If 2023 was all about probiotics, #hotgirlwalks, and ChatGPT-guided fitness plans, what can the next 12 months possibly have in store for us? Well, we’ve looked at some of the data-driven forecasts to bring you the key wellness and fitness trends for 2024.
Some interesting highlights include taking holidays to sleep, the resurgence of badminton and martial arts, and new ideas like rucking. Plus, expect more exciting research around the recovery effects of cold water exposure and the impact of ultra-processed food on our overall health and wellbeing.
The overarching trend for 2024 is how we continue to see our mental, physical, and social health as increasingly integrated. Gone are the days when we see our fitness, stress management, gut health, sleep, and time with friends as separate focuses in our lives. As each year goes by, we continue to understand how all these elements work together to make us feel balanced, happy, and healthy. So, let’s look at some exciting ways we’ll keep growing overall wellness in 2024!
#FitTok takes you somewhere new
Love it or hate it, TikTok is increasingly becoming a pivotal place to seek new inspiration for your workouts. As of October 2023, #FitTok had acquired an astonishing 61 billion views. While some fitness trends can sound a little faddy (#modelwalkchallenge, we’re looking at you), they can also help you put a new spin on your traditional training.
Think 2023’s ‘run until you see’ gamification exercise trend or under-desk treadmills for those looking to shake up their jogging time. Aiding this social media platform’s rise in the fitness world is its capacity for interactivity, like duets and collaborative challenges. Expect a bunch of fresh takes on exercise in the new year – once everyone is done with ‘cozy cardio’ this winter.
Badminton is blowing up
Step aside, padel. When it comes to racquet sports, there’s an old face returning to the main court. Originating from China some 2,000 years ago, badminton is the one where you hit a shuttlecock instead of a ball (in case you aren’t well acquainted with the sport). It peaked in popularity in the West a century ago, and while it has been in the Olympics for some time now, it looks set to be making a comeback now that we’re in the 20s again.
Badminton’s appeal lies in its relatively easy rules and faster, more physically demanding pace than tennis. It also has the added benefit of being the first alphabetical option on your Polar sports profiles. According to Pinterest, badminton looks set to be a new fitness trend for 2024, with an 80% rise in searches for badminton rackets and outfits in the past year.
Personalizing fitness with AI
If you didn’t use ChatGPT in 2023, where you even there? The rise of AI in the fitness space felt like it happened overnight, even though it had been predicted for years. With the increasing popularity of wearable tech over the past decade, it’s now possible to use your data to personalize everything about your approach to fitness and health. From using AI to tailor your nutrition plans to trying it as your running coach, it is empowering to not only monitor but optimize your health in whatever way works for you.
Polar is at the forefront of this, providing you with the metrics you need, such as heart rate variability (HRV), cardio load, energy used, and the quality and quantity of sleep you achieve each night. With new features added in recent months, such as skin temperature and daytime alertness, you’ll have the chance to gain an even deeper understanding of your fitness and wellness in 2024, providing you with more insights that you can enhance with AI.
We’ve seen many recovery techniques gain traction over recent years. From foam rolling to massage guns, it’s become an essential part of the training process for athletes at all levels. One that has grown enormously in popularity has been cold water exposure, primarily through ice baths or similar types of chilly immersion after training.
While some scientific research has been looking into its benefits, such as its ability to reduce muscle soreness, 2024 looks set to be the year where we gain a greater understanding of cold water exposure. For example, researchers in the UK will be conducting the largest, randomized, controlled trial to date on this subject to see if cold water exposure can treat anxiety disorders and depression, building upon their pilot study from 2022.
Speaking of mental health, you’ll be encouraged to think more about the connection between your mind and body next year. Fitness will no longer simply be about working out your muscles. Instead, it will focus more on your holistic health – appreciating the interconnection of your mental and physical health and how they can only be explained in reference to each other.
This comprehensive approach to wellness will mean more mindful options at your gym, like meditation sessions and even counseling. In turn, you’ll also see mental health services and apps beginning to encourage and offer exercises to improve your physicality. The key is growing a strong, balanced, resilient body and mind.
The rise of Reformer Pilates
Ever since rumors that Harry Styles is a fan of this equipment-focused workout, TikTok has been ablaze with videos of Reformer Pilates. Think traditional stretches associated with this yoga-esque fitness routine, except done on something akin to a rowing machine. In fact, now you can even try Rowformer, which is part-pilates and part HIIT with short bursts of rowing throughout your session (in case you need that bit more). In terms of fitness trends, this is one you won’t be able to escape in 2024, so why not join in?
The point of using this equipment (which looks like a bed with springs, pulleys, and sliding carriage) is to add some resistance to pilates exercises and support you during specific exercises where you may struggle. So, it can make things more intense or more accessible for you, depending on what you’re looking for with each move. The result will be a stronger core, better posture, and improved balance.
Get ready to ruck
Perhaps, like many other Polar users during 2023, you got outdoors and did some hiking. Invested in the proper footwear, checked out some local trails, and enjoyed being immersed in nature. If you’d like to take things up a notch, it’s time for you to try rucking. Nope, we’re not talking about fighting over the ball in a game of rugby but taking a loaded backpack with you on your hike.
If you have children and like to get them out to enjoy nature, you already know what this fitness trend entails. Whether carrying a toddler or a picnic lunch for multiple people on your back, you’re getting a full-body workout by making your muscles work that bit harder. Don’t come with any additional baggage? Add dumbbells, cans of food, or anything heavy to your bag.
Get ready to punch the air (or a bag) in 2024, as combat sports are on the rise again. Pinterest saw a 265% rise in searches for kickboxing, a 200% increase in interest for mixed martial arts training, and 190% more searches for karate kumite this year. The latter is the type of karate where you take on an adversary, which means a lot of people are ready to fight (in a competition, that is).
Combat sports like these can relieve stress through high-intensity, cardio-friendly exercises. They also improve your balance and sense of empowerment as you build defensive skills and techniques. Want something that balances the power of combat with the calm of breathwork and mobility? Give boxing yoga a try in 2024.
Take a rest stop
Expect to get away in 2024 – and get some sleep. Gen Z and Millennials are leading the holiday trend focussed on helping them rest and recover better. Whether you’ve been experiencing stress, burnout, or insomnia, using your precious time off from work and everything else in life to learn how to prioritize sleep hygiene is the kind of break you’ll no doubt benefit from for the rest of the year (pardon the pun).
You wouldn’t be the only one trying to take life a little easier, rather than rushing around on an exhaustingly touristy experience. Pinterest reported a 60% rise in searches for all things slow life this year, with 80% more interest in digital detox challenges and a 165% increase in people looking for anything related to ASMR sleep. So, feel free to have a few more early nights and lazy mornings in bed next year.
Paving the way to wellness in later life
One thing that’s clear from Polar’s 2023 year in review is that people in their 50s and 60s prioritize their health and fitness, with a particular dedication to time spent strength training, running, walking, and cycling. As we learn more about aging, longevity and staying fit and active, expect to see a societal shift in 2024 towards making the most of your health and happiness well into later life.
This new perception of life after 50 is being transformed by accessible, wearable tech, research-backed guidance, and the sense of community that many people find after embarking on their fitness journey. It’s inspiring for people of all ages when we think about the future, both next year and decades into the future.
Gen Z dance workouts
On the other end of the age spectrum, #DanceFitness has clocked up nearly a billion views on TikTok during 2023. If you’ve seen (or taken part in) one of the many dance challenges on that app, you’ll understand why Gen Z can’t get enough of sweating it out to music. It’s similar to how aerobic dance workouts and Zumba were fitness phenomenons for previous generations. Except now, you can capture and share it online, growing your sense of digital community.
According to recent research from Instagram, staying healthy (working out regularly, eating healthy, etc.) is one of the top priorities for Gen Z. Group training is also popular with this demographic, proving that in-person fitness experiences are also a priority for those who grew up on the internet. With gyms beginning to offer more dance classes, it’s a natural fit for those wanting inspirational tunes, guided workouts, and the chance to make an exercise buddy or two.
Undoing our ultra-processed diets
You weren’t alone if gut microbiome was a phrase you heard thrown about for the first time in 2023. While the phrase ‘you are what you eat’ has been around for decades, we are only now coming to understand the impact of how certain types of foods affect not only our weight and energy levels but our entire holistic health. One of the new words you’ll hear a lot about in 2024 is ultra-processed foods as we learn more about our gut health and how to make it thrive.
One of the most exciting developments in this area is the ongoing research on ultra-processed foods from PREDICT, the largest in-depth nutritional study in the world. Their findings so far have included that a diet rich in unprocessed, plant-based foods encourages the presence of gut microbes that are linked to a lower risk of illnesses such as heart disease.
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Please note that the information provided in the Polar Blog articles cannot replace individual advice from health professionals. Please consult your physician before starting a new fitness program.