Thursday, February 18, 2010

"No Crunches, No Sweat, No Dice!"

As a nation of consumers we are always trying to find the new hit product, whether its weeding our gardens, cleaning our kitchens, or getting in shape there is a gadget for everything. Each year Americans spend billions of dollars on products sold on TV, a good portion of which are one type of fitness device or another. A major trend in this area over the last few years has been electronic ab belts or stimulators, I am sure we have all seen the commercials, I know I have. They all promise six packs or washboard abs! How do I get abs like that model? Just wear this belt around your waist for ten to thirty minutes a day and viola instant abs! Even better you can wear this belt whenever and wherever you want! It fits comfortably under any type of clothing so you can even where it to the office and get abs while you work! In fact many belt manufacturers even recommend wearing the belts around other muscle groups such as biceps and calves; this must be a miracle. Wouldn't we all like this to be true, it is no wonder why these products sell. If you could have those types of results by simply wearing a belt, wouldn't you at least give it a shot? I hope not.

Sadly enough as the motto goes no pain, no gain. As with many other products seen on TV the elaborate claims seem to fall flat on their face when put to the test. The University of Wisconsin tested one such belt for eight weeks, wearing the belt for forty five minutes, three times per week. What were the results? Absolutely no changes in either weight, body fat, or abdominal strength. So why would Americans spend 100 million dollars a year on gadgets like that? That's exactly why the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) is now investigating these companies in a project called "Project Absurd". The claims made by the marketers are in fact so absurd that in fact the FTC has sued for "false and misleading claims". However in a much different setting these types of machines to have a purpose. EMS or electrical muscle stimulators are used by physical therapists to help stimulate muscles which are atrophied or at risk of being so. These however are much more powerful than any device sold over the TV and are usually quite painful to use. This is around the same amount of stimulation that would actually be necessary to create muscle but with the level of pain it inflicts it would not be plausible. So how can you get your washboard abs, its actually really simple. Eat healthy and monitor the amount of calories you take into your body. Hit the gym or bust out some ab exercises on your floor at home. Finally, do some cardio because no matter how big or powerful your abs are it won't do you much good if there still hidden by that spare tire of yours.

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