Entries in Work Out (3)


Sense-Able Clothing Reminds Exercisers to Work Out Right

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Bees do it.  Cellphones do it.  And now workout clothing does it too.  Buzz, that is.

Say your stomach pooches out too far while doing a core exercise in a Pilates class.  The sensors in the Move tank top spot your mistake and emit a mild electric shock reminding you to tighten up those abs.  Same thing if your hip pops out at the wrong angle during a leg toning series.  When the correction is made, the clothing delivers three buzzy "attaboys" to the area so you know you're back in alignment.

The garment, which was presented this July at the Wearable Technologies conference in San Francisco, has four stretch-and-flex sensors woven out of conductive fibers and embedded into its front, back and sides.  The sensors are strategically placed to help correct the most common errors people make during a mat Pilates class.

Made from the same materials as regular exercise clothing, it isn't bulky or uncomfortable, and most of the garment can withstand the spin cycle.  The battery and other components that can't be washed are removable.

The tank also transmits workout information to your smart phone via Bluetooth and has an app that analyzes your technique and critiques your performance.  You can download short animated movies that show you where you tend to go wrong, then offers suggestions on how you can improve.

Jennifer Darmour, the tank's designer, says the idea came to her when she realized how much money she was spending on Pilates classes, which can run upward of $200 an hour for a private session.  She started to think of ways to help speed up the learning process.

"I thought putting sensors in the clothing could give feedback to help you improve your technique a lot faster," Darmour who is a technology expert, says.  "It's not meant to replace an instructor but it can certainly help you understand the technique even when the instructor isn't around."

Scientists are on board with the concept.  Joseph Paradiso of the Massachusetts Information Technology Media Lab in Cambridge, Mass., believes this type of technology can be a great teaching tool, particularly for an activity like Pilates in which the movement is meant to be very precise.

"There is only so much information we can take in with our eyes and our ears and these types of sensors can be very effective at picking up mistakes and offering feedback.  When they are in the right place they help you instinctively make corrections," Paradiso says.

The Move system is unique to the Pilates world, but so-called wearable technology is a hot clothing category.  IMS Research, a British research firm that tracks statistics for the global electronics industry, reports that more than 14 million wearable devices were shipped last year, most of them in the fitness and medical category.  By 2016, they predict the market will hit $6 billion in revenue.

While the Move tank is still in the development phase and won't hit the shelves for at least a year, consumers will find there's certainly no shortage of workout gear that helps track stats, enhance performance or offer a measure of protection.

Shoe inserts, wrist watches and clip-ons serve as high-tech pedometers to track, download and analyze the mileage and speed of runners and cyclists.  A waistband called the Lumobelt uses a sensor system similar to the Move tank to remind those with back pain to stand up straight.  There's even an "invisible bike helmet" you wear around your neck like a scarf that deploys like an airbag over your head if you're in a crash.

Darmour is working on incorporating sensor technology into other types of gear where the sport calls for precise technique.  She hopes in the future, she'll also have clothes that zap golfers, baseball pitchers and yoga lovers whenever they make a wrong move.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


The Best Exercise for Your Lifestyle

Jupiterimages/Goodshot/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For years infomercials have played off the elusive dream of one-stop fitness -- a contraption or exercise routine that provides a total body workout to those big and small, young and old.

This one-size-fits-all approach is misguided, according to exercise experts.  We should be exercising according to the kind of life we lead -- each person is going to bring different exercise needs to the table according to their personal preference and physical capabilities.

ABC News asked leading fitness experts and kinethseiologists to weigh in on which exercises are a best fit for people of various ages, stages of life and level of fitness.  As always, experts recommend consulting with a physician before starting any exercise program.

The Couch Potato, aka the Exercise Newbie
-- Expert Favorite: Walking plus weight lifting

Former couch potatoes should resist the temptation to jump on the treadmill, fitness experts warn.  Exercise tolerance -- the amount of exertion one's body can handle -- "is not something to be messed with," says Jason West, clinical assistant professor in the exercise and sports medicine department at the University of Tulsa.

For people who haven't been active in a long time, "they're almost like a kid in their training age.  Their room for gain is huge, but they're going to have muscle soreness or injuries if they don't start slow," he says.

West recommends starting with a walking program, supplemented with some weight training on machines.  Because lifting free weights requires balancing the body while lifting, weight lifting machines are a good place to start because people can "just sit in a comfortable position and focus on one muscle group," he says.

The Single Parent on a Tight Schedule
-- Expert Favorite: Housework Training

For parents who don't feel that they can dedicate a chunk of time to a workout, Billy Davis, director of personal training at Complete Body and Spa in New York City, suggests embracing household chores and playtime with kids as a way to amp up activity levels.

For parents who feel they can squeeze a trip to the gym into their busy schedules, West suggests circuit training using the weight machines.  Rotating around exercises that use different muscle groups cuts down on the recovery time between sets.

The Mommy-to-Be
-- Expert Favorite: Prenatal Yoga

Pregnant women should never try to work out harder than they did before becoming pregnant and in general should look to low-impact, low-intensity forms of exercise such as walking, pregnant yoga, and swimming.

Into the second and third trimesters, women should choose exercises that support the abdomen and lower back because there will be a shift in her posture due to the extra weight, says Davis.  "Seated and lying exercises, no heavy squats, and more walking, less running."

The Ex-Jock
-- Expert Favorite: Lower-Intensity Weight Lifting

Former athletes, even those who have been "on the bench" for a decade, do have an advantage over those who were always sedentary, says West.  There will be some carry-over of their former fitness, but they're still going to have to start with the basics if they want to excel at sports again, he says: flexibility, cardiovascular training and resistance training.

"You can go back and lift again, but you're going to be working with less weight than you remember and you're going to need more recovery time than before," says Davis.  As long as they build up in intensity slowly, the sky's the limit in terms of the kinds of exercise they can pursue.

The Generic Jogger in Need of a Boost
-- Expert Favorite: Weight Training

Those who jog quasi-regularly are usually in good cardiovascular shape, but they can be surprisingly low in muscle strength or flexibility, experts say.  This makes casual runners a prime candidate for a little weight training to build up the muscles that support their running, such as those in the back and stomach.  Especially after age 40, injuries from running will be muscular and skeletal, says Peter Walters, associate professor in the Applied Health Science Department at Wheaton College, so building up the muscles with strength training will make someone less likely to injure themselves during their weekly jog.

For casual runners who want a jumpstart, West recommends high-intensity interval training (HIT).  It's running, only amped up: "sprint for 30 seconds and rest for 30-90 seconds and then repeat," he says.  The same principle can be applied to biking or other kinds of aerobic exercise.  Studies show that people who do this kind of high-intensity interval training boost their aerobic capacity more than those who exercise five times as long at a slower, steady pace.

The Retiree With Arthritis
-- Expert Favorite: Aqua-Aerobics in a Heated Pool

Low-intensity, low-impact exercises that don't require a lot of balance are key for those suffering from arthritis.  This is why hands down the best exercise is working out in a heated pool with styrofoam dumbbells.  On land, lifting weights can lead to strain or injury if they are dropped, and only work the muscles in one direction.  Moving a Styrofoam dumbbell underwater provides resistance in every direction, while the warmth of a heated pool keeps the muscles and joints loose and less prone to injury, says West.´╗┐

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Unfit to Be Tried: 7 Fitness Approaches to Avoid

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- When you have precious few resources to dedicate to your health routine, you want to make sure that everything you do counts. What a bummer to find out you've been following a routine that's a waste of time or spending your hard-earned cash on a practice that will never work.

Here, we give you the low down on seven diet and fitness practices you may think are beneficial but alas -- they aren't.

Pick it Up

The first electronic cardio machines that appeared in gyms in the 1970s featured low-intensity, long-duration, "fat-burning" programs.  Many still do today, even though Neal Pire, a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine, says this slow-and-steady approach to working out can be a real time-waster.

"You do burn a higher percentage of fat during a long, slow workout but you burn more fat and calories overall when you push the intensity," he says.  Pire recommends doing interval training where you alternate periods of hard and easy cardio.  According to Pire, this helps ratchet up the calorie burn while helping you avoid injury and burnout.

Stretching the Truth

For many exercisers, the pre-workout toe touch is still a ritual -- but Pire says this one is a real no-no.

"Numerous studies show that stretching a cold muscle decreases its endurance and power and makes you feel like you're working harder," Pire cautions.  "More importantly, it ups your risk of injury."

Instead, he advises saving your stretching for the end of your workout when your muscles are at their most supple. "The average person only needs about five minutes of stretching.  All it takes is one move for each major muscle and hold each stretch for about 30 seconds."

Long is Wrong

Developing "long, lean" muscles or "strength without bulk" are promises you'll often see advertised by studios and trainers who teach yoga, Pilates and dance -- even though Pire says it's impossible to change the length of your muscles.

"You are born with a certain body type, and no matter how much or what kind of exercise you do, your muscles will develop into their natural length and shape," he says.

Pire thinks this myth got started (and is still perpetuated) by instructors in the Pilates and yoga world who are naturally predisposed to willowy physiques.  "They may have the mistaken impression that this is the result of their training but don't realize it won't translate for many of their clients."

Burn to Earn

Who doesn't think that succumbing to the temptations of a KFC Double Down -- 540 calories, if you were curious -- can be fixed by taking a kickboxing class?

Katy Bowman, director of the Restorative Exercise Institute in Ventura, Calif. refers to this as the "burn to earn" mentality and speculates that it's one of the reasons so many of us no longer fit into our jeans.  "When you believe that a bout of exercise grants you "permission" to eat an extra portion of food, the extra caloric intake is less about hunger and more about the mind's desire to eat."

You do need to exercise for long-term weight maintenance, but it's nearly impossible to burn off a full day's worth of eating -- especially if you overindulge.  Bowman advises keeping an exercise and diet log so you can't escape the fact that one extra doughnut is equivalent to an hour's jog.

Down the Drain

Heeding the advice to be more active is wise but doesn't require a special drink.

In fact, Felicia Stoler, a registered dietitian and author of Living Skinny in Fat Genes, warns that guzzling sports drinks may pack on the pounds.

"They're not for someone who is doing a light 15-20 minute workout or no workout at all and they really aren't any better for you than the soft drinks they're meant to replace," she says.

Not only that, studies show that sports drinks may soften tooth enamel even more than sodas, leading to cavities and tooth decay.  Stoler's recommendation?  Limit all sweet drinks including sports drinks and fruit juices.  Stick to plain water instead.

Sustaining a Myth

Organic has become synonymous with healthy -- yet that's not always the case, especially when you stray from the produce section.

Take the Organic Classics line of frozen foods made by Fairfield Farm Kitchens.  According to Center for Science in the Public Interest, only three of the nine entrees are low in artery-clogging saturated fat or sodium.  Many non-organic choices are healthier -- and cheaper.

Slapping on organic label to junk food doesn't make it virtuous either.  Sugar -- whether derived from organic cane juice, agave syrup, table sugar or high fructose corn syrup -- still delivers 16-20 calories per teaspoon and is virtually devoid of nutrition.

Downsize Your Meals

Eating six small meals a day is a standard aspect of many diet plans.  However, some experts now say this tactic can backfire.

Jonny Bowden, author of The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, believes Americans suffer from "portion distortion."

"For many, a small meal is 500 calories, so at the end of the day they've eaten over 2500 calories -- certainly not enough to lose weight and, often, enough for them to gain," he says.

Recent studies, he says, also show that some people who eat constantly will experience continuously elevated insulin levels; this may promote fat storage further exacerbating their weight issues.  "They'd be better off waiting longer between meals to give their insulin production a break."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio´╗┐

ABC News Radio