1. Metabolic flexibility
The latest diet buzz is around achieving good “metabolic flexibility” – the ability of the body to easily switch between fat and carb burning. Research shows that those who have good metabolic flexibility are better able to lose and maintain weight and are at a lower risk of diseases such as diabetes.
“Our metabolism has the key to unlock our health and wellness. If we take care of it by making it more flexible, everything else follows – higher energy, weight management, lower blood sugar,” says GP Dr Emeka Okorocha.
Along with several studies looking into the benefits of metabolic flexibility, functional medicine practitioner Will Cole – one of Gwyneth Paltrow’s team of experts – discusses the concept in his latest book Intuitive Fasting (he also has a quiz on his website, drwillcole.com, to find out how flexible your metabolism is). Meanwhile nutritionist Rhian Stephenson has an online seminar on the subject in February (artah.co).
The way we eat now, with a generally high carb, high sugar diet combined with snack culture has meant that our bodies rely on carbs and sugar to get us through the day. With obesity levels still high, tThe key to achieving metabolic flexibility is by adapting carb intake, intermittent fasting and exercising (particularly HIIT). There are measuring tools, too, such as Lumen, which charts the carbon dioxide in your breath to indicate whether your body is burning carbs or fat. It then suggests ways to get you back in the fat burning zone (lumen.me).
2. Spud milk and ‘zalmon’
In 2022 you might be asking for your latte with a shot of potato milk as the humble spud embraces the alt-milk world. Plant-based foods are only set to increase. Since the release of Netflix’s much-talked about documentary, Seaspiracy, more of us are looking for alternatives. Vegan sashimi ‘zalmon’, usually made with tapioca starch, is on the rise, along with mushroom bacon from the company MyEats.
3. Dream retreats
Researchers at the Harvard Medical School found in a poll that 29 per cent of people had experienced particularly vivid dreams during the pandemic – a “dream surge” which has led to a rise in dream therapy. From apps to courses and retreats, seeking help to decipher what it all means is on the up. Tree Carr, who runs a retreat, says that she has seen a huge spike in people wanting to know more about their dreams. When you “begin to decode them, you realise your unconscious mind is helping you to balance something out in your waking life,” she explains (luciddreamtree.com).
4. Hyperbaric chambers
Typically, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a treatment where you get into a pressurised chamber and breathe in pure oxygen: Mohamed Salah, Cristiano Ronaldo, Michael Phelps and LeBron James are known fans. But now others are jumping on the trend to boost breathing capacity: “The air we breathe is comprised of oxygen levels of 20.9 per cent. However, inside a hyperbaric chamber, the air is able to reach 95 per cent oxygen. This increase in oxygen levels helps to oxygenate the blood and encourage new blood vessel formations,” explains Samson Garwood, assistant head of fitness at Lanserhof at the Arts Club (theartsclub.co.uk/lanserhof).
5. Mindful moving
Analysis by Bupa notes an 80 per cent increase in searches on Google for “mindful moving”, which studies confirm can improve our well-being and even reduce depression. Apple Watch recently upgraded its tracking function to allow users to track two mindful workouts, Pilates and Tai Chi, as well as introducing meditation programmes that you can do as you run or walk.
Other wearables are now concerned about our stress levels: while our Fitbits, WHOOP bands and Amazfit devices now measure things like heart rate, blood pressure and breath rates, and often suggest breathing exercises, a new device developed by Swiss scientists uses droplets of sweat to track the cortisol (stress hormone) in your body.
Other high tech advances in the fight against stress include the first smart ice bath, Monk, launching later next year, which will bring the mental health benefits of cold water swimming without the pond weed (monk.global).
6. Heavy hooping
The surprising fitness trend storming TikTok is weighted hula hooping: the hashtag #weightedhulahoop has had more than 200 million views and counting. But unlike many social media trends, this one is actually good for you. A 2019 study published in Obesity Facts found those who used a weighted hula hoop for just under 13 minutes a day for six weeks lost just over 3cm from their waist, along with abdominal fat, compared to those who just walked 10,000 steps per day.
During lockdown, high tech spin bikes from Peloton, Echelon and the AI-powered CAROL were a lockdown sensation. But next year the focus will shift from spin bikes to kit that blends more seamlessly into the fabric of your home. “MIT has developed a prototype smart carpet with 9,000 pressure sensors that can identify 15 exercise-related actions,” says Sarah Housley, head of consumer technology at the trend forecaster WGSN.
Peloton Guide, launching in 2022, uses AI-enabled camera technology that connects with the TV and tracks your movements (to make sure you’re doing the exercises correctly), as well as tracking your activities through the week, to assess which muscle groups you use regularly, feeding this into its algorithm to personalise its workouts.
HILIT – high intensity low impact training – harnesses the cardio and fat-burning benefits of HIIT, meaning you still have to push yourself. But, according to Lydia Arnoux, barrecore teacher and personal trainer, it “reduces the risk of injury”. Think swimming and cycling over running and lunging and push-ups instead of jumping jacks – just make sure they are performed fast.
This kind of exercise can maintain and build muscle, and is particularly useful for women post-partum or older people, as we “naturally lose muscle mass and our joints may get a little sore”, Arnoux adds.
9. Al-desko fixes
Working at home has had a major impact on our posture, with a study published last year pointing out that it “may promote the onset of musculoskeletal disorders. Working in a sedentary position for prolonged periods increases the risk of neck pain and/or low back pain.”
Gym John Reed is launching a Mobile Flow class to combat these laptop-at-kitchen-table twinges, targeting “those with weakness and imbalances that occur as a result of prolonged periods of sitting, or those who find themselves working in a hunch position – which is more common with working from home due to not having the right chair or office equipment.” The low-intensity movements are designed to release tension in strained parts of the body, such as the hip flexors.
Working at home also means working out at home for many and, as omicron has taken over, several gyms have upped their online class offerings once more. Like hybrid working, expect hybrid workouts to be a feature of fitness for some time to come.
The Daily Telegraph