You might not realize it, but if you’re getting fit or staying fit after 50, then you are riding the wave of one of the hottest trends in fitness around the world.
TWO trends, actually, according to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), which has released its 17th annual survey on the hot topics in the fitness industry.
Ranked No. 1: wearable technology, like smart watches and fitness trackers that can monitor heart rate, calories and other data.
No. 2: Strength training with free weights, like barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells.
No. 3: Body weight training, which uses the body for its source of resistance.
Now, each of the top three apply to the people over 50, right? You might wear a smart watch, and we know that strength training is essential for healthy aging, whether it’s with free weights or body weight.
But the fourth and fifth items on the list get right to it.
No. 4: Fitness programs for “older adults” made a comeback into the top 10.
No. 5: Functional fitness training focuses on improving balance, coordination, functional strength, and endurance for the everyday activities outside the gym.
This doesn’t surprise us, since we are big believers and advocates for fitness over 50, including functional fitness, whether you want to:
⦁ Achieve athletic excellence or just maintain a healthy weight…
⦁ Travel the world with confidence or just play with your grandkids…
⦁ Or simply feel better, move better, and look better while making your doctor and spouse happy.
If those are “trendy” concerns, then we are happy to be considered “cool.”
The list reflects some interesting changes fueled by the Covid-19 pandemic. For example, home gyms fell from No. 2 last year to No. 13.
“The health and fitness industry is returning to the basics,” said Walter Thompson, former ACSM president and lead author of the survey. That follows how fitness professionals pivoted during the worst months of the pandemic to provide service for people wanting to exercise primarily at home.
Take This as Encouragement
We hope this year’s list gives you a little extra encouragement to start exercise or to keep at it. We know it’s challenging either way sometimes, especially if you are starting out.
But this goes to show that you’re not alone as an “older” adult pursuing a healthy lifestyle! And we are here to help you feel comfortable, stay safe, and achieve results for the lifestyle YOU WANT TO LIVE.
Finally, it’s interesting to see how various regions and countries ranked the trends. For example, Australia ranked “Fitness Programs for Older Adults” first, and Spain led with functional fitness.
Europe put “body weight training” at the top, Mexico liked weight loss programs, and the United States matched the overall global ranking for the top spot, wearable tech.
Fitness over 50 knows no boundaries. Let’s get it!
Experts Rank Mediterranean Diet as the Best
For the sixth straight year, the Mediterranean diet has been ranked as the best overall diet for health and wellbeing, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Concerns about healthy aging came into play this time, the magazine said – including bone and joint health, and increasing quality of life.
The phrase “Mediterranean diet” has been around for a while now, and it’s based in the eating habits of the countries around the Mediterranean Sea, including Greece and Italy. It features simple, plant-based cooking, a lot of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and extra-virgin olive oil.
It encourages consumption of fish packed with omega-3 fatty acids, while calling for less chicken and dairy than the usual Western diet Americans favor. Red meat is used very little.
Various studies have said it helps lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, dementia, depression, and breast cancer. It has been linked to better bones and heart health, as well as longevity.
And, since it’s more of a style than a “don’t eat this” diet, the Mediterranean approach offers is easy for many to follow.
Which diet landed at the bottom? The “raw foods” diet, which was cited as having a lack of nutritional completeness and being difficult to follow.
The report ranks 24 eating plans in various categories, such as best “family friendly” diet. Be sure to scroll through the list to learn more about healthy eating options for you.
Healthy Recipe, Chinese-Style Hand-Shredded Chicken
Boneless skinless chicken breasts are versatile, high-protein, low-fat, and convenient to use, but can easily turn dry and tasteless if overcooked. This recipe, slightly adapted from one in “The Walks of Life,” relies on a simple poaching method that ensures tender, juicy, aromatic results. Once cooled, the chicken is shredded and dressed in a light soy-based dressing loaded with garlic and ginger (chilies if you like heat) then tossed with red onion slices, cilantro leaves, and toasted sesame seeds — a delightful, low-fuss way to ring in the Chinese New Year (January 22) or to whip up for a healthy entree any day or night. Serves 4. RECIPE HERE. – Susan Puckett
For the chicken:
⦁ 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (brought to room temperature 1-2 hours before cooking)
⦁ 6 cups water
⦁ 3 thin slices ginger
⦁ 1 scallion, halved crosswise
For the sauce:
⦁ 2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions (white parts only)
⦁ 1 heaping tablespoon garlic (3-4 cloves)
⦁ 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
⦁ 1 or 2 fresh Thai bird’s-eye chilies or a pinch of dried chile flakes (optional)
⦁ 3 tablespoons neutral oil
⦁ 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
⦁ 2 teaspoons Chinese black vinegar (or white rice vinegar or rice wine vinegar)
⦁ 1 ½ teaspoons oyster sauce
⦁ 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
⦁ ½ teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorns
⦁ ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
⦁ ½ cup thinly sliced red onion
⦁ ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
⦁ 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
⦁ Fine sea salt to taste
⦁ Prepare the chicken: In a medium pot, combine the water, ginger, and halved scallion and bring it to a boil.
⦁ Completely submerge the chicken into the water and allow it to return to a boil. Then immediately reduce the heat to its lowest setting, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes.
⦁ Turn off the heat and allow it to continue to steep in the hot liquid, untouched, for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath in a large bowl and set it beside the sink.
⦁ Check the chicken for doneness by piercing the thickest part of the meat with a sharp skewer to see if the juices run clear. If not, leave it in the water for 5 more minutes or so, then check again.
⦁ Transfer the chicken to the ice bath for about 5 minutes or until cool enough to handle, then shred the meat and transfer to a serving plate. (Reserve the flavorful broth, if desired, for cooking jasmine rice or other uses.)
⦁ Make the sauce: In a medium heatproof bowl, combine the scallions, garlic, ginger, and chilies (if using). Heat the neutral oil in a wok or small saucepan until shimmering, and carefully pour the aromatics in the bowl. Mix in the soy sauce, vinegar, oyster sauce, sesame oil, ground Sichuan peppercorns, and sugar.
⦁ To serve: Toss the chicken in the sauce, along with the onion, cilantro, and sesame seeds. Season to taste with salt. Serve cold or at room temperature.
Susan Puckett is an Atlanta-based food writer and cookbook author.