Popular health and fitness practices come and go. Fads like waist trainers and shake weights aren’t so different from crushed velvet scrunchies or gaucho pants— very trendy, and occasionally short-lived. But of course, there are some things that stick around and keep you happy, healthy and fit.
2016 is going to introduce us to a whole new wave of fads. Technology is quickly advancing, foodies are getting more creative and personal trainers are using social media as a major business platform. The times, they are a changin’.
With 2015 behind us, plenty of predictions are being made regarding what ’16 has to offer. Here are ours.
1. Personalized Medicine
‘One Size Fits All’ medicine- your typical, Western medicine practice- has been a subject of criticism from reformists for years. They claim that illnesses, diseases and handicaps could perhaps be better treated in ways that were more specific to the patients suffering from them.
Personalized medicine uses a patient’s genes to determine how susceptible they are to getting certain diseases or how well they’ll respond to certain medicine, and treats the patient accordingly. It seems like this practice could gain some serious traction in 2016.
In his State of the Union Address held last January, President Obama announced his Precision Medicine Initiative, focused on ‘patient-powered research’ to help advance the development of individualized medicine. And although the plan was announced in 2015, Obama called for $215 million to be allocated to the plan in 2016. So looks like this year could be the year. That’s not to say that personalized medicine will fully take over typical Western medicine in 2016. But keep an eye out for its increasing application.
2. Personal Trainers in Your Smartphone
Social media has completely transformed the way humans interact with one another. And plenty of savvy businessmen and women have harnessed this change. Instagram hit 400 million users last year, allowing professionally-trained and certified personal trainers to access potential clients across the globe. This is a colossal change, considering the traditional client pool used to only include clients in their immediate area. How does this help you?
Personal trainers have begun to a) put up videos, tips, and motivational posts on their pages, free of charge and b) offer subscription or one-time-payment access to exclusive training and nutrition plans. Instagram ads are also now for sale, so the more fitstagrams you explore, the more likely you are to see another’s ad in your feed. Which of course is good for the advertiser, but can also expose you, the advertisee, to plans you could love.
Plenty of apps, both free and paid, are taking this mobile personal trainer concept to the next level. Now you can get a workout plan, a healthy recipe, an idea for how well you slept, a yoga flow sequence, etc. without any human interaction at all. Whether or not that’s a good thing is up to your own discretion. Either way, this development shows no signs of slowing down this year. Keep a tab open on innovations in the world of health and fitness apps.
3. The “Healthifying” of the Food Industry
The big name food companies that monopolize supermarket shelves are starting to pick up on the average consumer’s growing interest in health and lessening interest in artificial ingredients. General Mills announced that by 2017, artificial colors and flavors will no longer be present in its cereals. Tyson Foods announced that by September 2017, none of its chickens will contain human antibiotics. Campbell’s Soup recently announced that it will be the first major food company to label all of its American products for the presence of GMO ingredients.
Moral of the story- 2016 could very likely be the year that this trend continues and big name food companies start to hop on the good-for-you bandwagon. Seems like your favorite antioxidant drink was ahead of the curve on this one (*brushes off shoulders*).
4. Meal Planning Services
The ultimate health conundrum that the typical American faces is how to trade convenience for health when choosing what to have for dinner. In the name of this never-ending debacle, services that bring healthy, nearly-prepared meals to your door are quickly gaining popularity. Blue Apron, Hello Fresh and Plated are some of the front-runners in terms of size and popularity, but many locally-based services are starting to pop up as well.
A semi-similar service called Kitchensurfing brings fresh ingredients to your home, but it also brings the chef. So if cooking just totally isn’t your thing, or even if it is but your schedule doesn’t allow the time, you don’t have to sacrifice that home-cooked dinner. It’s perfectly likely that services such as these, local and country-wide, will continue to emerge in 2016.
5. Wearable Technology
At this point, you must have at least heard the term FitBit- or maybe you’ve had one for a while now. Wearable fitness trackers are experiencing exponential popularity growth. Companies are even starting to provide these fitness trackers to employees in order to encourage a fitter workplace á la Michael Scott. 2016 isn’t the first year of wearable tech that tracks your steps. But it is the year of advanced wearable tech. Think devices that track your heart rate around the clock, automatically go into workout mode in response to your heart rate & movement, monitor your GPS activity, etc.
Beyond monitors that you wear around your wrist and/or chest, scientists have begun to develop clothing that responds to exercise. A lab at MIT recently unveiled what they call a ‘material user interface’ (MUI), a wearable “skin-like film” that self-ventilates in accordance with the body temperature of the wearer. Before we tell you what the key behind this incredible technology is, take a deep breath and have an open mind. Ready?
Bacteria. An organism called Bacillus subtilis natto was found to expand and contract based on the amount of moisture available to it. It’s this characteristic that developers have harnessed to cause the opening or closing of the vents in the fabric, depending on body temperature and sweat volume. The project, known as BioLogic, could potentially be used in various other ways- the lab suggests lamp shades that self-adjust their brightness or teabags that signal when your cup is ready. Stay tuned.