Consumers Should Exercise Caution on Fitness Machine Claims, Expert Says
exercise equipment advertisers make bold claims about their
products’ benefits – claims that should be taken with a
grain of salt, according to an expert in the September/October issue of
a journal of the American College of Sports Medicine.
David Swain, Ph.D., FACSM, says if an assertion sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
is still no ‘miracle machine’ that will give you the body
of a fitness model in just a few minutes per day," Swain said. "The
tried-and-true machines that have been around for the longest, like
treadmills, have remained staples of the fitness industry for a
Swain says consumers should be especially wary of these claims:
calorie burn. It’s impossible to burn, say, twice the number of
calories on a specialty machine as on a treadmill. The body has a
natural limit on how many calories can be burned in a given exercise
fast. Brief bouts of high-intensity exercise can improve maximum power
more than low-intensity exercise, but cannot improve all areas of
fitness in just a few short minutes.
zones. According to the intensity zones on some machines, you
don’t have to work as hard to burn fat. But Swain says that
weight loss – or what some interpret as "fat burning"
–comes from total calorie expenditure. It’s the combination
of intensity and duration that counts.
reduction. Spot-reduction is a fantasy, Swain says. Machines that only
train the abdominal muscles won’t remove fat from the stomach;
only total-body exercise and weight loss willeventually yield those
addition, Swain notes that many machines’ reported caloric
expenditures are inflated. Most inflate the calories by including
resting energy consumption, and use of the machine is a big factor in
calorie burn. For example, holding on to the handrails of a steeply
inclined treadmill reduces calorie expenditure – but the calorie
report on the machine doesn’t reflect that change.
should focus on overall health and accumulating at least 150 minutes
per week of moderate-intensity activity, or at least 75 minutes per
week of vigorous-intensity activity," Swain said. "More is needed for
weight loss, but the real benefits of exercise are decreased risk of
disease and improved quality of life."
The public can find tips for meeting the physical activity recommendations at www.acsm.org/physicalactivity.