Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

The pack of cyclists pedals through Tuscany's countryside during the 9th stage of the Giro d'Italia, Tour of Italy cycling race, from Sansepolcro to Florence, on May 12, 2013.

The Associated Press

When forecasting fitness trends for a new year, it’s hard not to think of Clubber Lang’s ringside interview before his championship tussle with Rocky Balboa.

“Prediction?” Lang snarls in response to a reporter’s question.

Yes, Clubber. A prediction.

Story continues below advertisement


One year, it’s boot camps; another year it’s deep-tissue massage; another year it’s Zumba. One way or another, the hottest new fitness trends usually involve creative new ways of suffering – and of somehow convincing people to enjoy the ordeal, at least until the next trend comes along. It’s a safe bet that 2019’s top fitness stories will follow a similar pattern.

But beyond the trendy headlines, there will be other, more subtle topics rippling through the fitness world. As scientists continue to search for new clues about how to get more fit and perform better, here are four areas of controversy we’ll hear more about in 2019.

The new sports psychology

Sports psychology has been around for more than a century: an 1898 study on why cyclists ride faster when competing with others is often cited as the field’s starting point. But its advice over the years has sometimes been difficult to distinguish from the enthusiastic but light-on-science slogans of the motivational self-help literature.

That’s changing, though, with growing interest in rigorous studies of how our minds can influence performance. Perfectionists, it turns out, get more shin splints; your score on a questionnaire about emotional intelligence can help predict your half-marathon time. Findings like this will help sports psychologists give better and more personalized advice; but more importantly, they’ll help convince skeptics that the mental game matters.

Eliud Kipchoge, centre, in his Nike Vaporfly 4% running shoes with fellow runners at the Tiergarten in Berlin, on Sept. 13, 2018.

MUSTAFAH ABDULAZIZ/The New York Times News Service


In September, Kenyan runner Eliud Kipchoge set a new marathon world record of 2:01:39, sparking a wave of excitement about the possibility of a sub-two-hour marathon. But to some observers, Kipchoge’s performance came with an asterisk, because he wore a new Nike shoe with a stiff carbon-fibre plate embedded in a thick foam midsole. Tests have shown that the shoe reduces energy consumption while running by an average of 4 per cent – so was his record merely a triumph of shoe technology?

Similar debates have played out elsewhere. Chris Froome attributed his victorious breakaway in cycling’s Giro d’Italia to a secret new sports drink his team called “beta fuel.” Skiers at the Winter Olympics used special headphones to apply electric brain stimulation to supposedly enhance skill acquisition. Debates about the appropriate role of technology in sport aren’t new, but as the pace of progress accelerates, defining “fair” will take on greater urgency.

Story continues below advertisement

Handling heat

In laboratories around the world, sports scientists are grappling with a pressing question: How do you run a fast marathon in temperatures that could top 30 C? It’s now clear that the 2020 Olympics, which will be held in the midst of Tokyo’s sweltering summer, will be among the hottest on record, and that has sparked a surge of heat-related athletic research.

It’s not just Tokyo, though. The 2022 World Cup is slated for Qatar. And with rising global temperatures, the combination of hard exercise and extremely hot days will become increasingly common – so this is one area of elite sports research that we’ll all benefit from.

Runner’s not-so-high

Yes, Ross Rebagliati now sells legal pot for “the athlete in all of us.” But the bigger fitness-related cannabis story is the emergence of cannabidiol (better known as CBD) oil, a cannabis derivative that promises some of the same benefits without the high, as an athletic recovery aid. One recent analysis predicted that the market for hemp-derived CBD could hit US$22-billion by 2022, eclipsing the rest of the pot market.

There’s just one thing missing from the picture: scientific backing for the claims of pain relief, reduced inflammation, better sleep, and so on. Given the amount of money at stake, expect to see a deluge of CBD-related athletic studies – some of them, hopefully, not funded by the pot industry.

Alex Hutchinson is the author of Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance. Follow him on Twitter @sweatscience.

Live your best. We have a daily Life & Arts newsletter, providing you with our latest stories on health, travel, food and culture. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies