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What’s the magic of Leg Magic?

Friday, April 03, 2009 Posted by Peter Janiszewski, PhD

According to the always entertaining infomercial (which you can watch here), Leg Magic is “the short-skirt and shorter short solution!”


What follows are statements from the official Leg Magic website and my reactions:


“Most workout programs can’t target the areas you really want them to – your inner and outer thighs, buttocks, and abs.”


That’s like saying most exercise programs don’t target the thenar muscles of your hand which are so critical for professional videogaming. In fact, it is even worse, because I would argue that most workout programs (i.e. walking, running, biking, swimming, etc.) would work those very muscles – and would likely be much more effective in utilizing the abs and buttocks than the Leg Magic.


“Leg Magic uses a unique lateral gliding motion, combined with gravity, to get right at those problem areas.”


Oh, so gravity is the ‘magic’ ingredient! Those problem areas in most overweight and obese individuals – including the token overweight woman in the infomercial - are not limited to the inner and outer thighs! For most individuals, excess adiposity throughout the body is an issue, and with regards to your health is particularly hazardous when deposited around your midsection. More importantly, while you can (to a certain degree) selectively hypertrophy certain muscle groups by doing specific and isolated exercises (i.e. bicep curls to increase the size of your arms), you cannot selectively reduce fat from one area or another. What does this mean? You may in fact increase the strength and size of your thigh abductors and adductors by using the Leg Magic, but if these muscles are covered by plentiful adipose tissue, it likely won’t make that much of a difference when trying on those “short skirts.”


“It also increases your heart rate, so you’ll burn calories more efficiently and lose weight faster.”


So does typing on a keyboard! In the infomercial they make a big deal about the fact that the movement induced by Leg Magic is short and controlled. Is this ideal for burning calories and losing weight, if that is your goal? Absolutely not! I remember a biomechanics lecture from my undergraduate years where the professor was discussing efficiency of movement and caloric expenditure. In that lecture he more or less stated that if your goal is to expend as many calories as possible – be as uncoordinated and inefficient as you can be while performing your activity. Anyone remember Phoebe from the show Friends running? That is how you burn a lot of calories, not by the “short, controlled movements” of Leg Magic.


“Even better, you can accomplish all this in just a 60 second workout, a few times a day.”
Yes there are benefits to accumulating short bouts of activity throughout the day. But 60 second workouts done 3 times per day still amount to only 3 minutes of exercise no matter how you spin it. Additionally, I can’t imagine that with such an isolated movement you will be able to exercise at anything above a low intensity. Keep in mind that health authorities suggest that you accumulate at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per day. In other words, if you follow the Leg Magic Program you will fall severely short of current physical activity recommendations.


In addition to this, Leg Magic has all the token features of a gimmicky fitness product, including a supplementary nutritional guide and an exercise program (two things that may actually work, but that you don’t have to buy from the manufacturers of Leg Magic). The infomercial also shows a bar graph from a “University study” which indicates Leg Magic can induce a 21% fat reduction. Of course, no reference or any details are ever provided, so we can only guess about the veracity of these statements.


Probably the only useful thing that comes with the Leg Magic package is the pedometer, which, as Travis has done, can be purchased from Radioshack for around $20.


While Travis and I often criticize many home-based exercise and fitness products due to their outlandish claims, lack of evidence based support, and questionable marketing ploys (see Slender Shaper, Air Climber), the simple truth is that home exercise equipment can be effective. Unfortunately, you never see any late night commercials for a treadmill, a stationary bike, an elliptical, or even better – a sidewalk or stairs. That is, the things that we know work will never be peddled on late-night television as there are countless manufacturers of legitimate exercise equipment and advertising Joe’s Treadmills will undoubtedly increase sales of Jim’s Treadmills. However, if I develop ‘Thumb Exercise Pro’ to help target those muscles which, as I previously joked, are critical for professional videogaming – I would have the only gimmick specifically targeting that muscle group and thus I would reap all the financial rewards of duping the lay public.


Take home message – don’t get duped!


Have a great weekend,


Peter


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2 Response to "What’s the magic of Leg Magic?"

  1. Anonymous Said,

    Thanks for the article!

    I'm actually thinking to get a Leg Magic - not to loose fat (I'm thin enough), but to build up muscles in my legs and my behind.

    Would that work or is the machine simply nonsense for this?

    Thanks, Cal

    Posted on September 9, 2009 at 1:48 PM

     
  2. Peter Janiszewski, PhD (Cand.), MSc Said,

    Hi Cal - Honestly, I think you would be much better off regularly going for a jog if your goal is to build muscles in your legs. Also doing some walking lunges around the house will do the trick. Skipping the elevator and using the stairs is also great for the legs and behind. The best part - none of these strategies cost you anything!

    Posted on September 23, 2009 at 3:46 PM

     

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We are PhD students in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. Our research focuses on the relationships between obesity, physical activity, and health risk. This blog is our attempt to consider the many "cures" for obesity that we read about on a daily basis. Enjoy.

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The opinions expressed here belong only to Peter and Travis and do not reflect the views of any organization. Any medical discussion on this page is intended to be of a general nature only. This page is not designed to give specific medical advice. If you have a medical problem you should consult your own physician for advice specific to your own situation.

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