Tags: Obesity | exercise | watching | tv | desk | elliptical

New Machines Promise Weight Loss While Watching TV

Thursday, 23 Jan 2014 03:52 PM

By Nick Tate

It may sound too good to be true, but Penn State researchers have found that using a compact elliptical device can help some people lose weight while they are sitting at a desk or watching TV.
The findings, by Penn State College of Medicine researchers, suggest what might be called extremely low-intensity exercise may offer a new line of offense in the war on obesity, particularly for Americans who spend long hours at the office or in front of the television.

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"Adults in the United States spend more than 11 hours per day sitting while doing things like watching television and working on a computer," said Liza Rovniak, assistant professor of medicine and public health sciences. "Evidence suggests that this sedentary lifestyle has contributed to average weight gains of one to two pounds per year among U.S. adults over the last 20 years."
While health experts recommend moderate and vigorous physical activity to shed pounds, low-intensity workouts — combined with usually sedentary patterns — can help, particularly for individuals who don't have time to get to a gym or exercise.
For the study, the researchers tracked 32 individuals who used a low-cost compact elliptical device while sitting in a standard office chair. They monitored the participants' heart rate, calories burned, and other factors. They also asked about their interest in using the device while watching television, using a computer, reading, during a meeting, and in general.
The results showed 86 percent of the participants could expend enough energy in one hour a day to prevent weight gain. They also calculated that daily use of the devices could produce a weight loss of 5.2 pounds per year, Rovniak said.
"Since watching television and using a computer are among the most common reasons people sit, the compact elliptical device might hold potential as a way to increase people's daily caloric expenditure," Rovniak said.
"By continuing to explore how best to use elliptical devices and other energy expenditure strategies across diverse settings, it may ultimately be possible to reach enough people to alter rates of chronic diseases associated with inactive lifestyles."
The study was funded, in part, by the National Institutes of Health.
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