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Exploring exercise trends (part 1 of 2).

Each year Google releases its most searched terms, and this year they have "exercise'' as a category. In this column and the following one I'm going to explore five workouts: the Insanity Workout, CrossFit, Ab Workouts, 7-Minute Workout and Kettlebell Workouts. I've spent a lot of time on each one, and one common theme seems to be high intensity and getting the most bang for your buck. Another trend is using your own body weight to provide resistance for weight training.

Insanity Workout

What Is It? It's an intense 60-day workout on DVD by the producers of P90X, Beachbody (www.beachbody.com). There's no equipment -- you use your own body weight for resistance. One of the keys is doing interval training at high intensity.

From the producers: "Fitness expert and college track and field star Shaun T has taken traditional interval training and turned it upside down. Instead of long periods of moderate exercise with short bursts of intensity, you'll perform long periods at maximum intensity with short periods of rest. Each workout keeps you constantly challenged as you alternate between aerobic and anaerobic intervals performed at your max. The result: Burn up to 1,000 calories in an hour and get the most insane body in 60 days.''

Health Benefit: Burns lots of calories and gets you in great shape without joining a gym.

Health Consequences: If you're not ready for this, it could cause injury. Some reviews posted online indicate that people have been hurt. Also, I'm concerned about sticking with this program because it's so intense.

From one Amazon.com user: "I read many reviews before doing insanity about it being a high-impact workout with repetitive jumping and motions that can cause deterioration in spinal discs. Oh, how I regret not paying attention to that ahead of time. I'm 34 and was in good shape before I started insanity and have always been athletic. I've never had back pain before but now I'm stuck.''

Here's another: "I've been working out for over 20 years (I'm 35, 5'9'', 155 lbs., male) lifting weights, running, swimming, cycling, hiking, skiing and practicing yoga. I've never had any serious injury due to any of my exercises. However, I had to stop walking up and down stairs around week 5 of this program even with icing my knees after every workout. I finally decided to stop the workout completely when I could not do the moves during the workout without joint pain (not the "good'' burning pain from working out).''

Bottom Line: I love the idea of using your own body weight to get in shape; however, it's too bad there isn't a beginner's version. You need to be in shape -- it's not for the average person or those with special needs.

CrossFit Workouts

What Is It? A combination of weights, kettlebells, calisthenics, gymnastics and other fitness and exercise modalities -in a rapid-pace, nonstop, timed, high-intensity workout. American Council on Exercise describes CrossFit (www.crossfit.com) as "a form of functional training that utilizes constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movement patterns to improve efficiency in performing the activities of daily living.'' CrossFit has WOD, Workout of the Day, which has developed a cult-like following. Also, CrossFit is now a competitive sport (http://games.crossfit.com/).

Health Benefit: You can burn more calories than with traditional workouts. Women can burn 13 to 15 kcal per minute, and men can burn 15 to 18 kcal; by comparison, traditional exercise burns 9 kcal per minute for women and about 11 kcal for men. "High-intensity, multijoint movements comprise the bulk of CrossFit exercises, and the overall degree of stress placed upon the entire body will certainly promote systemic neuroendocrine adaptations to improve fitness and one's overall capacity to tolerate stress (assuming adequate fueling and recovery between sessions),'' says a report by a fitness expert at ACE.

Health Consequences: According to CrossFit, the workouts will "wreck you.'' They are known to work you so hard that you could throw up or even, in some rare cases, develop rhabdomyolysis (where muscle breaks down, leaks into the blood and can compromise the kidneys). ACE's report states that "instructing individuals to complete as many repetitions as possible using the same intensity creates an issue, regardless of intent. As fatigue builds, technique will suffer, so at what point do we draw the line in the sand and acknowledge that the risks outweigh the benefits? Asking individuals to know their own limits seldom works in a competitive environment.''

Bottom Line: I see the allure of CrossFit, but unless you're young, without injury and very athletic, you should probably try something simpler, like taking a long walk, doing yoga and strength training.

Next Week: Ab Workouts, 7-Minute Workout and Kettlebell Workouts

Charles Stuart Platkin is a nutrition and public health advocate and founder of DietDetective.com. Sign up for the free Diet Detective newsletter at www.DietDetective.com.
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Title Annotation:Weeklies
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Jan 24, 2014
Words:814
Previous Article:Saturday/1.
Next Article:'Walk Thru the Old Testament' Feb. 7-8.
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