Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Exercise Equipment Claims

In the ACSM Health and Fitness Journal an article similar to the ones I have been writing about claims on meds, diets and supplements discusses claims for exercise equipment. The first point made is one we hear often. If it sounds too good to be true then it probably is not true.

You may have seen advertisements for machines that claim to burn more calories than a treadmill. According to the ACSM these claims are rarely justified. The ad may say for instance that there was a clinical study, but that tells you no more than a clinical study about a medicine tells you. That it was done does not mean it found anything to be true. Often times the promotion states that the two machines were used at the same speed and the one burned more calories than the other, but it doesn't add that the intensities of the two machines were different.

It is also said in this article that machines that boast being low impact are not really the machines that we would want to use unless we had a medical condition such as osteoporosis. In fact, the ACSM states, "most clients should be encouraged to judiciously include impact-generating exercise."

The ACSM also clarifies that "fat burning" exercise is not the answer to weight loss, but that the number of calories burned from any source are what matters. The formula for weight loss that the ACSM advises is this: intensity X duration X frequency. If you can do a low impact activity longer and more often then it may be best for you, other wise, moderate intensity activity is best.
Also validated or invalidated as the case may be, are the calorie burned amounts offered by machine readouts. Even when you can enter your weight and age and your heart rate is monitored the machines can be off by as many as 1000 calories! Remember what has recently been said, calories are hard to burn. Do not expect 30 minutes on the treadmill to burn 200 hundred calories.
Any machine that claims to reduce the size of a specific body part, like your abdominal area, should signal warning bells. No one can spot reduce. Often when an ad claims inches off your waist the fine print includes that results are not typical and that results are dependent on exercise AND diet.
Look for peer reviewed research if you are on the fence about one of these claims. And remember, you want something that is clinically proven with statistical significance. The research should involve a large group of people and have a comparison group that did not use the same equipment.

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