These Will Be the Biggest Health Trends of 2022

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After the global shutdown of 2020, this past year signified a tenuous return to normalcy. Mass-participation marathons returned . Gyms reopened. We had a summer Olympics. Many of those who were working from home went back to the office—some more reluctantly than others . It seemed like we were, if not quite out of the woods, then at least glimpsing the light at the meadow’s edge. Now, however, the rise of yet another ominous variant suggests that such optimism could be premature. It’s a reminder that we’re still very much living in the age of the pandemic and that it continues to impact our collective psyche.

As in Decembers past , we reached out to frequent contributors and other prominent voices in the health and fitness space to ask for their predictions about the year to come. More often than not, their responses didn’t attempt to forecast specific fads, but reflected shifting perspectives about what constitutes a “healthy” lifestyle. As Outside ’s Sweat Science columnist Alex Hutchinson notes below, “all predictions reflect underlying desires or fears.” Hence, the following submissions are perhaps best read as reflections both on what is, and what ought to be. More People Will Embrace a Weight-Neutral Approach to Health

There will be more focus on behavior (like eating, movement, and sleep) as a way to boost or maintain health regardless of what a person’s body looks like, instead of just pushing weight loss or so-called “healthy weight” as the answer to everything. It’s not a new idea, but podcasts like Maintenance Phase and books like Anti-Diet have helped spread it to more people, and intuitive eating has become so popular that even big diet companies like Noom and Weight Watchers are co-opting its language to appeal to consumers who are finally realizing that most weight loss attempts are doomed to fail. (Although, to be clear, these companies are still very much selling weight loss.) Friends and family members have told me that they’re hearing far less weight loss talk in spaces that are traditionally very weight-focused, like gyms and school health classes, which I think speaks volumes.

— Christine Byrne (MPH, RD) Outside contributor and Raleigh-based private practice dietitian specializing in eating disorders and disordered eating Athletes’ Definitions of Success Will Continue to Evolve I’ve observed a growing trend of athletes across a number of sports—well-known elites all the way down to average-groupers—putting less emphasis on chasing results and not tying […]

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