Workout Devices Get Rated
Experts Argue Pros, Cons of the Latest Exercise Equipment
Bryant: "This is a system that involves resistance rods or
bands. It's been around awhile and is good for resistance training. It's
reasonably compact and can be used to do a variety of exercises. More
experienced users might be more critical -- they won't experience what they get
in a gym. But for the average user, it would be good for resistance
Fichera: "The Bowflex is a superb strength-training
machine. When you use those cables, it forces you to challenge primary muscles
in the shoulder, chest, and triceps as well as support muscles. In fact, it
allows you to challenge all major muscles in the body. The machine itself
provides smooth range of motion and is the most versatile machine around. I
highly recommend it."
A word of caution: Grabbing cables from behind could mean a
pulled muscle. "But if you have a workout partner, he can pull the cable in
front of you to get you started," Fichera tells WebMD.
Bryant: "The Gazelle really tries to provide low-impact
exercise, but the swinging movement is not necessarily great because it can be
quite uncomfortable. The advertisements really play up the successively wide
range of motion you can get. But it could be difficult -- even problematic --
if you do it repeatedly. They also tend to over-hype what you can expect to
Fichera: "This [As Seen on TV product] is advertised as a
low-impact exercise machine, but what you get is almost no impact. It
does provide very smooth range of motion. The problem is, your body
performs actions that are not natural. They can potentially be dangerous
because of extra stress they put on hips, knees, ankles, and lower back. Also,
it's not made for very tall people."
Bryant: These have been marketed to people with back problems
and for exercise. When the body is inverted, or turned over, the spine
supposedly gets some relief from stress of gravity. People perform abdominal
exercises and others from the inverted position. His concern: "The blood
pressure in your eyes and blood vessels in the head and neck area are
increased, which could be dangerous for individuals with heart disease, stroke,
or glaucoma risk factors."
Fichera: "I was advised never to exercise in the inverted
position. Inversion puts a lot of pressure on the lower back. Men especially
have this problem because they hold a huge portion of their weight in the upper
body region. When they are inverted, the pressure shifts to the lower body,
which can put pressure on the spine. For a certain percentage of the
population, this could be very hazardous. There are other ways to strengthen
the spinal muscles."
Bryant: "These aren't shoes, they're devices you wear on
your feet. The intent is to lessen impact associated with weight-bearing
exercise. Some preliminary research conducted at a couple of universities has
shown they may be right. But one concern might be that it alters a person's
gait, which could cause other orthopedic problems."
Fichera: "It looks like these are good for softening high
impact, but it would not generate results an athlete is training for. It also
looks like it would throw your posture off and potentially create an injury.
When you land, it's not guaranteed you will land properly. I'm not sure it's
safe for older or heavier people."