Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Yesterday afternoon I came across a device known as the Air Climber. Developed by former American Aerobics Champion (yes, that is an actual title) Brenda Dygraf, the Air Climber is a stepping machine that is small enough for home use. However, this isn't your grandmother's stepping machine - this stepping machine is powered by "Air Technology"! The promotional video (available on our blog) says it all:
"...one of the biggest breakthroughs in workout technology! Instead of boring workouts, now you can have fun - on a cushion of air! With one of the most effective weight loss and body shaping programs ever [emphasis added]."
That's right, one of the most effective programs ever. How effective is it? Well the video goes on to show a graph from a "University Report" claiming that people burn an average of 493 calories an hour using the Air Climber. Now it's unclear who this average includes - is it lean individuals, endurance athletes, overweight and obese individuals? In all likelihood, it's probably male college students, because these are the typical subjects who get roped into "University Reports". I feel it is important to point out that in a recent study in our lab, overweight and obese men were typically able to burn that same number of calories by walking for one hour on a treadmill at half of their maximum capacity. This means that one of the most effective weight loss programs ever is roughly as effective (in relatively healthy, overweight men) as walking at a very leisurely pace. Wow!
There is a similar video available here, which fails to mention how many calories were burned by the average person in the "University Report" and instead claims that "a University Study proves that the Air Climber burns over 900 calories an hour!", which is apparently the greatest number of calories burned by anyone in their study. Unfortunately they once again fail to mention the population used in the study, as well as the intensity of the exercise. Like most steppers, the resistance level of the Air Climber can be adjusted, and one would assume that individuals can perform each resistance level at a variety of speeds. So the claims of the Air Climber are a bit like me saying that a treadmill can be used to burn over 1000 calories an hour - it's certainly true that some people can burn that many calories in an hour on the treadmill, but most people won't. And even among people who can do it, they probably won't want to go that hard every single day.
The final claim of the Air Climber is that it can result in weight loss of up to 10lbs in 10days. Now you need to burn roughly 3500 calories to lose one pound of fat. That means that the "average" person in their "University Report" would have to exercise for 7 hours a day to lose 10lbs in 10 days! Of course the small print explains that everyone who has seen these types of results has followed a low calorie eating plan, which you would expect to be the reason for most of the weight loss. And I should point out that most health professionals would never advocate losing that much weight that quickly.
Now all this is not to say that the Air Climber could not be useful. Anything that gets people moving is, in my opinion, a good thing. However, I don't think many people are going to enjoy this over the long term (how many people have old fashioned non air-powered steppers gathering dust in the basement?), and I don't see why you should spend $119.97 plus shipping and handling for something that is roughly as effective as walking.
If you are interested in purchasing the Air Climber yourself, please click here.
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