All across the nation fitness is playing a more important role in people's lives. Elementary school students in Lyuliang, Shanxi province, get the blood flowing with some basketball drills. [Photo/Xinhua] Exercise for weight loss predicted to be nation's top fitness trend for 2021 With the number of obese people in China continuing to rise, burning those extra calories is top of the nation's fitness agenda for the coming year. That's according to a new report published by Shanghai University of Sport, which highlights 20 fitness trends for the year ahead. Entitled China Fitness Trends for 2021, the reports lists exercise for weight loss as the top trend to expect, with healthy diet and aerobic exercise ranked second and fifth respectively. "Exercising for weight loss was ranked 19th in the China Fitness Trends for 2018, and the ranking has improved significantly to show that demand for fitness has changed," said Li Yongming, a representative of the report's research group. The most recent government statistics, published on Dec 23, show that over 50 percent of China's adult population are overweight or obese－an increase of about 20-40 percent on the 2015 data. Almost 20 percent of China's children and teenagers are classified as overweight or obese－an increase of about 10 percent from 2015. "The increasing trend of more obese people in our country, including adults, teenagers, and children, and an increasing awareness of the chronic disease caused by obesity, are major reasons for the high ranking of exercise for weight loss," said Li, who is also a professor at Shanghai University of Sport. "Also, the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020 made people realize the importance of health and immunity," Li added. "And with people's physical space limited while quarantining at home, weight gain was an issue, so that in turn has promoted the ranking of weight-loss exercise." Yao Ning, CEO of the certification agency of fitness company 3HFIT, further pointed out that nearly 30 to 40 percent of gym-goers purchase private courses for reducing fat, especially women. "But this is not a very healthy trend because there is no direct relationship between weight loss and health," Yao said. "This is what our industry needs to change, to advocate that the body shape formed by the premise of body function improvement may be the most ideal body shape for you," he added. Jointly produced by Shanghai University of Sport and The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), China Fitness Trends has been published annually since 2018.It aims to provide a reference for domestic fitness-related enterprises, clubs, universities, and medical institutions to adjust the curriculum, personnel training and equipment research and development for the year ahead. All across the nation fitness is playing a more important role in people's lives. A girl juggles a shuttlecock with her feet in Chongqing. [Photo/Xinhua] Based on 3,368 questionnaires, conducted from Aug 1-31 by practitioners in the fitness industry, the results show that aerobic fitness, health guidance, lifestyle medicine, training and certification of sports and health practitioners are emerging fitness trends. During the media conference, Walter Thompson, a former chairman of ACSM, released the 2021 Global Fitness Trend Survey. It ranked online fitness training as the top global trend in the sector. Barbara Ainsworth, another former chairman of ACSM, believes the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on fitness. "In countries that have had long lockdowns, with indoor facilities closed, online and outdoor activities have become the main way to exercise," she said. "The ranking of weight-loss exercise in China is not consistent with the rest of the world, but it is in line with our national conditions," said Zhao Guangsheng, deputy director of the Shanghai Administration of Sports. "With living standards improving, obesity is becoming more common." Li pointed out that there is a lag between China's trends and global patterns. "For example, the global report highlighted wearable devices and exercise for the elderly this year, but we haven't begun to notice these trends yet," Li said. "But this kind of lag could serve as a good indicator for our future trends."