Thursday, February 5, 2009

Stand Up Straight On The Elliptical

Kate's post about Gym Diva's got me thinking about another archetype I see at the health club: The Incognito Slacker. This person (hey, no judgement, some days I am her) would rather let her form crumble so she can keep the intensity high and tell herself she's kicking butt in her workout than take it down a notch and do the session with proper form. The one I see virtually every morning is a fit, middle-aged woman who always hits the treadmill post-swim and cranks up the treadie to a blistering pace. Within a few minutes, she's grasping the console, holding on for dear life and slapping her feet against the whizzing belt. It always makes me nervous because her hair, still wet from the pool, splatters water all over the treadie and I worry about her dangerous footing and her brink-of-disaster form. Hey, it works for her and it makes her happy, but I also wondered if she was gaining anything with this super-speedy-but-about-to-fall ritual (like, um, elevated calorie burn?).

Unfortunately, the only benefit you get from exercising like this is an ego boost. "Leaning on the rails of the elliptical--or most any exercise apparatus--will decrease caloric burn," says Barry Bates, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Oregon. "The proportion of decrease depends upon the magnitude of lean." Why? Because when you lean on the rails, stick your butt out on the StairMaster, or hold onto the treadie display as you run, you're not recruiting as many muscles to complete the activity. Adds American Council on Exercise spokesperson Robyn Stuhr, M.A.: "Leaning heavily onto hand rails during exercise also disrupts normal patterns of movement, promotes poor dynamic posture, can create muscle imbalances and increases the risk of an overuse injury. Sturh recommends you stand up straight--no matter what machine you're on--with your belly button pulled into your spine, your breastbone high and your shoulders relaxed. Ahhhh, that's better, isn't it? Photo grabbed from Posted by Liz

Photo grabbed from stock.xchng.

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