Slimming Electric Belts and Russian Bells: Are They Fitness Rip-Offs or Fitness Bargains?
Slendertone Flex Electric Belt
Have you ever heard of a belt that can help you get skinny? One that claims it can get you in shape? And what about the latest fitness craze -- using Russian weights to get extra fit? Possible? Here's what we found in two of our latest investigations.Slendertone Flex
Claim: "Use your Flex Abdominal Toning Belt for just 30 minutes a day, five days a week, and in just weeks, your abs could be firmer, stronger, and more toned. Satisfaction Guaranteed!"
Facts: The Food and Drug Administration regulates electrical muscle stimulators; however, most stimulators are intended for use in physical therapy and rehab. This is what the FDA Web site has to say about EMS products: "The FDA has cleared many electrical muscle stimulators for prescription use in treating medical conditions. Doctors may use electrical muscle stimulators for patients who require muscle re-education, relaxation of muscle spasms, increased range of motion, prevention of muscle atrophy, and for treating other medical conditions which usually result from a stroke, a serious injury, or major surgery. Again, the effect of using these devices is primarily to help a patient recover from impaired muscle function due to a medical condition, not to increase muscle size enough to affect appearance." And yes, it is true that the Slendertone Flex has been "cleared by FDA for toning, strengthening, and firming abdominal muscles."
According to Fabio Comana, MA, MS, an exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise, "Any time a group of muscles performs more work, it should offer some benefits. If this is used on very de-conditioned individuals with weak abdominals, the muscles will be stimulated to contract and will get stronger" as long as the muscle does more work than usual.
Fiction: The following is taken directly from the FDA Web site: "Using these devices alone will not give you 'six-pack' abs. Applying electrical current to muscles may cause muscles to contract. Stimulating muscles repeatedly with electricity may eventually result in muscles that are strengthened and toned to some extent but will not, based on currently available data, create a major change in your appearance without the addition of diet and regular exercise." Also, according to the FDA: "No EMS devices have been cleared at this time for weight loss, girth reduction, or for obtaining 'rock hard' abs."
The price: About $200
Concerns: "Spot reduction is a myth, and people often confuse improved abdominal endurance and strength with getting a washboard stomach. We all have a washboard, but for most, it is covered with a layer of fat tissue that has to be shed in order to show the six-pack," says Comana.
Bottom Line: If you want washboard abs, this belt will not do it for you. Try ab work, cardio, and a healthy, calorie-lowering diet.
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