Garmin specializes in GPS technology, making some of our favorite wearables for the outdoors such as the Forerunner 955, and it's no secret that they have a lot of data regarding how often you lace up your shoes, where you go and how long you're out there for. Luckily for us, they've compiled this information in to a newly published report, which reveals the top fitness trends for 2023.
The 2023 Garmin Fitness Report reveals the activities that saw the biggest rise over the last year, and once again it looks like people are getting moving more than ever, and recording their workouts on their GPS watches. From hitting the trails to recovering on the mat, here are the trends we're most excited about, plus beginner's guides for getting started and staying motivated.
1. Bouldering is big
The biggest success story of 2023 is bouldering, which saw an increase of a whopping 68 percent among users, along with indoor climbing, which grew by 62 percent. How much of that massive uptick is down to an increase in participation, and how much can be attributed to climbers finally getting to grips with their sports watches is hard to say, but we're pleased to see that this adventurous activity is popular.
Bouldering requires little in the way of gear – all you really need are a pair of climbing shoes if you're climbing indoors – no partner, and can be done outside or inside, making it one of the most versatile activities around, and it's a great workout to boot.
2. Running is king
Unsurprisingly, running had a moment during lockdown, and it would be understandable if you thought the sport's popularity might ebb a little now the world has opened back up; but you'd be wrong.
Running was the most popular activity overall among Garmin users, with all types of running on the rise. Track running might have seen the biggest increase, up 76 percent on the previous year, but we'd be lying if we said we weren't most excited about the 11 percent growth in people pulling on their trail running shoes and hitting the soft stuff. Trail running makes you work harder and may be better on your joints than running on tarmac, and the views are always better.
3. Walking and hiking keep growing
Running is great if you want to pick up the pace or are short on time, but there's nothing better than slowing down and soaking up the views. We were thrilled to see that walking was the second most popular activity overall, and both walking and hiking were up seven percent among users.
Regardless of whether you're lacing up your hiking boots for a day hike, loading up your tent and sleeping bag for a backpacking trip or just donning your favorite road running shoes for a walk along the canal, there are tons of benefits to walking and hiking, from spending time in green environments to improving your relationships. Walking keeps you in a lower heart rate zone compared to running, which is better for burning calories, and is accessible to nearly everyone, so why not try to get more steps in this year?
4. Mindfulness matters
With so many people more running and exercising, there's plenty of scope for an increase in injuries and overtraining syndrome, so we were excited to see that activities which focus on recovery and mindfulness are also on the rise.
Yoga, an activity that can help improve both mobility and strength as well as stress reduction, saw an increase of 23 percent among Garmin users while breathwork was up by 33 percent. Knowing how to breathe while running can improve your performance, and deeper breathing can lower your blood pressure and help with stress and anxiety, according to a 2023 study.
No matter what your chosen activity for 2024, it seems that unrolling your yoga mat and taking a few deep breaths from time to time can deliver some big benefits.
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Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.