12 Health & Fitness Trends That Are Actually Worth Your Time And Money

These health and fitness trends aren’t short-term fixes – they’re long-term solutions. Use them and finish 2019 healthier, happier and fitter than ever.


Kelleigh Korevaar & Megan Flemmit |

The DNA of this brand is focused on making better men; and as the end of the year (and shirtless season) is looming, it’s the perfect time to take stock, and then kickstart a journey of improvements and upgrades (no, you don’t need to wait for January 1st).

The only problem? Trends are great… until they’re not. Luckily for you, we’ve selected 12 solid, proven health and fitness trends that promise to help see you through the rest of the year and help you finish 2019 healthier, happier and fitter than ever. These health and fitness trends aren’t short-term fixes – they’re long-term solutions.

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From robots and bone broth to shorter workout classes and the most high-tech shoes on the market, we’ve sifted through the BS to bring you only the best in health and wellness. Because there’s no point wasting your time or money on things that don’t actually work.

And if you’re wanting to finish the year strong with your best body ever, why not a pick up a copy of the latest mag? It’s jam-packed with sound nutritious meals and workouts that will get you ripped in no time. You can get it here.

Related: The Best Mood-Boosting, Muscle-Building Foods For All-Day Energy

 

Work Out Quicker

If you’re constantly using the excuse “I don’t have time”, you’re in luck… and unfortunately, fresh out of excuses. The days of making sure you hit the gym for at least an hour are over. As summer is fast approaching it’s time to learn how to do the same in less time.

“If you do 15 minutes at the right intensity, that’s all you need,” says Pete McCall, certified strength and conditioning specialist and host of the All About Fitness podcast. With companies such as Ritual Gym – a Joburg-based gym that aims to have you worked out, washed up and out the door in half an hour – having come to SA in 2018, this isn’t another fitness fad.

Want to get on the trend? All it takes is increased intensity, shorter breaks, and a lot of mental fortitude. We’ve done the research and the heavy lifting so you don’t have to. Check out the training programme we’ve designed called SPEEDSHRED. Bonus: it also comes with an eating plan with tasty, easy-to-make muscle meals.

Related: This Bodyweight Training + Meal Plan Gets You Shredded In 12 Weeks

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The best part? You don’t need a gym membership. Plus, you can do it all in your lunch break. And you’ll want to: a recent study found that when you skip your lunch break, you’re actually losing out on R500 000. So rather use that time to build a better body.

Stay Connected

Fitness trackers have become smarter than ever. Thanks to Bluetooth technology, you can make calls and send messages without taking out your device. Similar technology can now be found in the soles of your shoes.

In 2017, a company called Lechal created shoes that would buzz you in the right direction. They implanted Bluetooth technology into the shoe innersole, and your footwear would buzz if you veered off course. It made staying on track easy: just input your route into Google Maps. Once on the route, your left running shoe would vibrate if you needed to turn left. The same with the right shoe.

It was initially intended to help people with visual impairments navigate more effectively, but the company soon realised the wider impact the shoes could have. The inbuilt GPS tracker allowed you to keep track of the wearer, be that a child or an elderly parent.

Related: We Found 7 Winning Fitness Gear Items Under R500

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Under Armour’s new generation of connected shoes (the UA HOVR), built with the runner in mind, takes this technology one step further. A high-fidelity sensor embedded in the midsole of the right shoe tracks a variety of metrics on your run, including stride length, distance, pace and splits. The data syncs to the MapMyRun™ app. Use it to improve your running time – it’s like having a personalised coach in your sole.

New to this line of shoes is the Gait Coaching feature. It analyses your current gait, and compares it to the ideal gait you should have. This helps prevent running-related injuries. No place to put your phone while you run? Leave it behind. Connected footwear tracks your run and syncs the data to your phone once you’re reunited with your device. With smart tracking becoming more popular than ever, it’s time to consider getting a pair. You might leave your watch behind, but you wouldn’t leave the house without shoes.

Train Like A Pro

Elite athletes train differently to us, for obvious reasons; but you can learn a thing or two from them, especially if you’re not as motivated as you expected to be and you’ve broken those January 1st resolutions.

Athletes are constantly chasing goals or preparing for a specific event, which helps keep them on track. They don’t aimlessly hit the gym, wanting a better looking body.

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Related: How To Dominate Your Next Obstacle Course Race

Pick an event or race and invest your time in training for that. We’re big fans of the Tough Mudder race that will be happening on 19 October in Elgin. And if you’re wanting to train for it pick up a copy of our September issue, where one MH staffer took the challenge (and found a workout you can include to obstacle-ise any gym).

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Plus, ditch your one day, one muscle group mindset. The gym equipment that looks like it’s straight from the 1990’s is being replaced by tools that were previously reserved for premium gyms and elite athletes. The Wattbike, Assault Bike, assault AirRunner and skierg can take your cardio from careless to crushing.

Your gym not quite keeping up with the trends? Try trainer Sean Garner’s row and burpee challenge, that will put your cardiovascular conditioning to the test.

Your goal is to row 500 metres in 1 minute and 40 seconds or less. For every second you go over that goal, you have to do that many burpees. For example, if your time is 1:45, you will have to get off the rower and immediately do 5 burpees.

Do this 5 times, resting 5 minutes between each 500m attempt. Your burpees happen during that rest time, so the slower you row, the more burpees and less rest time you have.

Be The Whole Package

The buzzword “mindfulness” was thrown around a lot in 2018. In such a fast-paced world, you need to prioritise holistic health and take care of your mind in the same way you take care of your body. With Nike teaming up with mindfulness app Headspace to create guided runs, meditation and mindfulness is part of mainstream fitness now.

And there’s good reason for that. A 2011 study published in the journal Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging found that mindful meditation can change your brain chemistry. MRI scans also showed a growth in the hippocampus – the area related to memory and learning. All it took was 30 minutes of meditation a day. We recommend replacing your nightly Netflix binges by setting a recurring alarm and blocking out half an hour – during a time when you’re the least busy and winding down. You’ll be more likely to do it then.

Related: Use These 4 Mindfulness Apps If You're Stressed All The Time

But it’s not just about mindfulness; it’s about your entire body. That’s why recovery is key. Gone are the days of hobbling into work and wincing every time you have to stand up from your desk to do something. With recovery tools such as foam rollers being introduced into mainstream gyms, and everyone popping magnesium tablets to avoid sore muscles, it’s never been easier to prioritise recovery.

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Measure Your Mesos

2018 was all about measuring your macros, with the IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) movements gaining major traction in the hashtags of fitness bloggers’ avo-toast Instagram posts. But if you’re still battling to wrap your head around macros, you’re out of luck and time. Because this year we moved onto about meso-nutrients.

In Greek, “macro” means large, “micro” means small and “meso” means middle. What we actually want to know, on top of the nutritional value, is the active compounds that make up the foods we’re eating.

Think of melatonin, the hormone produced in the pineal gland that helps regulate our circadian rhythm. A 2011 study in Critical Reviews In Food Science And Nutrition found that melatonin is also present in edible plants. Another study found that cherries contain melatonin as an active ingredient, and that when study participants ate cherries, they generally slept better. So if you’re battling insomnia, add foods that contain melatonin (or check out the sleep specs in the next point).

Related: 3 Supplements That You Really Need In Your Diet & And 3 That Are Just Wasting Your Money

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But what’s the takeout? Although it sounds complicated, the principle is simple: we want to function at optimum capacity, and we’re even turning to our diets and supplements to help us do that. And with the rise of nootropics, and more pharmacies stocking the pure active compounds on their shelves (melatonin, magnesium, curcumin, etc.), the health sector is placing importance on this too.

Invest In Your Sleep

This year, we’re no longer staying up late to binge-watch series or work late. We’re getting adequate sleep. A study in the College of Sport Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal shows that a lack of sleep results in loss of productivity, concentration and motivation. When it comes to exercise, your poor sleeping habits can hinder your ability to improve your fitness levels. A study in the journal Sleep showed that people who sleep for 6 or less hours have slower reaction times, and their reasoning capabilities are restricted. Both qualities are vital when training, to prevent injury from occurring.

Shorter sleep periods also affect your muscles’ recovery rate and performance. Want to reach peak athletic performance? It’s time to adjust your bedtime.

Related: The 2019 Men's Health Sleep Awards

Get more sleep by exposing yourself to less blue light. While any kind of light can disrupt your sleeping pattern, blue light is particularly harmful to your sleep schedule. It suppresses your body’s ability to produce melatonin, which in turn affects your ability to fall asleep. But avoiding blue light can be difficult in our current digital climate. Not only do artificial lights emit blue light – so do all your devices.

This doesn’t mean your sleeping patterns are completely screwed. You can sit in the dark for an hour or two before bedtime – or you can invest in a pair of SleepSpecs. They filter out blue light, allowing your body to produce melatonin. They work best if you wear them two hours before you’re going to sleep. You won’t have to limit your activity, as you can still read and watch TV with them on. They do reduce the range of colour you’re able to see, so don’t wear them while driving. Order them from www.sleepspec.com

Strip It Down To The Bone

Bone broth is the latest superfood to hit social media, thanks to its versatility and almost endless list of benefits. It’s packed with minerals and amino acids like collagen, glutamine, glycine and proline.

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Its most notable benefit, though? Bone broth promotes weight loss. A 2007 study in Appetite found that ingesting soup reduced caloric intake at the next meal. It’s also been found that amino acids can help stimulate muscle protein synthesis.

Not sure how to use it? Gina and Graham Neilson, chef-owners of 9th Avenue Bistro in Durban and creators of Dr. Broth (drbroth.co.za), a gourmet bone broth, have shared their chicken breast, bone broth lentils and baby spinach salad recipe.

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In a saucepan, mix together gently and simmer 1 cup of rinsed brown and green lentils in 750ml Dr. Broth Chicken Bone Broth on medium heat, until the lentils are soft and all the broth has been adsorbed. While this is happening, chop 1 onion, 1 carrot, 1 celery stick, ½ fennel bulb and 2 jam tomatoes. Use a separate sauce pan and sweat the chopped vegetables in 1Tbs of extra-virgin olive oil for a few minutes. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and a pinch of salt and cook a bit further until the tomatoes have broken down. When the lentils are ready, carefully stir them through the vegetables and season to taste. Season and grill 4 chicken breasts. For the salad: In a bowl, toss together 8 handfuls of baby spinach leaves, 2Tbs dry roasted almonds, 1Tbs extra-virgin olive oil and 2Tbs crumbled feta cheese. Serve the grilled chicken with a few healthy spoonfuls of lentils and salad. Serves 4.

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Unravel Your DNA

Your genes determine everything about you, from your eye colour to your height. Genetic testing is no longer just used to determine paternity. Now practitioners are using this information to offer personalised health and fitness solutions. All it requires is a simple swab of your cheek.

Struggling to lose weight? Fitness levels reached a plateau? Your genes are probably the reason. Companies like the 3X4 clinic and DNAnlysis use the sample from your cheek to determine your genetic make-up. Based on this, they can tailor fitness and health solutions. They can tell you whether your body will react better to high-intensity workouts or if you’re more likely to see results with an endurance activity such as running.

Related: Can You Manipulate Your Genes To Improve Your Lifestyle?

For years now, healthcare practitioners have been using genetic testing to establish whether patients were likely to develop life-threatening illnesses such as cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. And we can actually use our genes to take better care of our health and fitness.

Based on your DNA, practitioners can ascertain what you need for optimal health and nutrition. Learn how to manage your weight, improve your athletic performance and get clearer skin, all with one comprehensive summary.

Gone are the days when doctors took a “onesize-fits-all” or “trial-and-error” approach. Now you’re able to make smarter life choices based on your genetic code.

Stretch To Lift Heavy

You need to start lifting smart. We’re no longer just banging out rep after rep – we’re taking care of the muscles that allow us to do that. While proper form and a tight core are important in any lift, ensuring that your muscles can work through a full range of motion is vital to prevent injury.

The best way to do this? Stretch. Regular stretching can help you maintain flexibility that’s often lost with age and inactivity. It also helps you avoid back and neck problems that creep up when you spend long hours behind a desk. And when you’re lifting weights, it ensures that your muscles are warmed up properly. If you wonder why you can’t bench heavier than you do currently, it could be that your muscles aren’t warmed up or your range of motion is restricted.

Related: 5 Simple Yoga Poses To Improve Your Heaviest Lifts

Incorporate dynamic stretches before your workout, static stretches after your workout, and spend time doing yoga or pilates on your rest days.

If you don’t know where to start, or want to improve your technique, there are plenty of apps available to show you the ropes. Here at MH we like ROMWOD. Choose which muscle you want to focus on, and the mobility app recommends numerous workouts you can follow. Alternatively, pick your exercise of choice (overhead squats, thrusters etc), and receive a recommendation based on that.

We also like AAPTIV. This fitness app doesn’t just focus on mobility; it allows you to build a programme based on your goal (be that muscling up or losing weight). While you’re creating a programme, include some mobility workouts to warm up your muscles.

Eat To Sustain Yourself (And The Planet)

It’s hard to avoid plastic. Whether you’re taking leftovers to work or buying from supermarkets, your food comes in a plastic container.

But since plastics were first introduced in the 1950s, more than 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic have been churned out. And according to a study in the journal Science Advances, only 9% has been recycled, while 79% ended up in landfills around the world. Eight million tonnes end up in the earth’s oceans each year, killing 100 000 marine animals. And while plastic has devastating effects on marine life, the chemicals in plastic packaging are also harmful to human health. A review for the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) suggested that long-term exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA), the chemical used in the manufacturing of plastic, increases one’s likelihood of developing cancer.

In May 2003, South Africa introduced legislation that made it illegal for supermarkets to give away single-use plastic bags. Since then, consumers have been paying for their plastic bags. The idea was to encourage people to reduce the consumption of single-use plastics.

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In 2018, supermarkets increased their efforts to reduce plastic consumption. Plastic straws disappeared from counters, while Shoprite and Pick n Pay rolled out recyclable bags. It’s no longer enough just to eat healthily; we’re starting to eat in ways that are sustainable to the environment and the wildlife that inhabits it. Join the revolution by buying produce from your local farmer’s market, or shop at stores like ShopZero, which sells food with little or no packaging. You can also grow your own garden.

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Trust Your Gut

At this point, we’re about a year away from having kombucha-flavoured pre-workout. And while we can bash the hordes of influencers promoting kombucha on Instagram, we can’t bash the benefits. Forget the beer belly – gut health is all the rage right now.

The gut has been called the body’s second brain. But keeping the right balance of bugs isn’t as easy to calculate as kilojoules. If you can, avoid antibiotics, as they disrupt the diversity of your microbiome for years afterwards. Too much salt, alcohol, and drinking chlorinated water won’t do those bugs and your microbiome any good either.

Plus, if you thought brushing your teeth was just for good oral hygiene and to rock a killer smile, you’re wrong. Avoid a dirty mouth, as those bacteria can travel to your gut, causing imbalance and inflammation (that means brushing AND flossing).

Related: This Is How Exercise Can Affect Your Gut

Instead, eat whole grains, as they promote the growth of bacteria that strengthen your immune system. Aim for 30-60 minutes of cardio three times a week, and finish that off with some probiotics and krill oil. Plus, focus on your fibre intake. You want to hit at least 30 grams a day, which you can get from whole grains, fruits and veggies.

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Recruit A Robot

You might think artificial intelligence is just a concept dreamed up by the creators of Black Mirror, but in 2019, the extent of AI use in the healthcare industry is slowly transform the way it operates. Tests previously performed by doctors can now be done by a robot. This decreases the amount of time doctors spend with patients, while increasing the number of patients they can see.

In South Africa, entrepreneur Josh Lasker has co-created Abby, a robotic nurse (previously called “the Healthinator”). Abby is a free-to-use health kiosk that can run up to 12 health checks, including measuring height, weight, BMI, body-fat percentage and daily caloric intake. The 12 tests are administered in under two minutes, and require no human intervention. You then receive a ticket showing your results, and how these correspond to normal healthy values. Alternatively, patients can have their data sent to a secure web portal for them to access at a later stage.

Related: Watch Boston Dynamics’ Robot Do A Backflip Better Than You Ever Could

In an interview with Bizcommunity, Lasker spoke about their plan to roll Abby out this year to government and private institutions, as well as major retail locations, across South Africa. Abby will then be rolled out to other African countries.

With Abby, we see just how AI can be used to help citizens maintain their health and well-being. But the potential benefit of AI in healthcare extends beyond robotic nurses. The new generation of fitness trackers monitors heart rate, allowing doctors and caregivers the ability to detect life-threatening events – such as heart attacks and strokes – much earlier

As a result, patients can be treated much sooner. With access to the data provided by Abby and wearable technology, there’s no excuse for not taking control of your health.

 

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