may surprise you
May 8, 1996
Web posted at: 9:00 a.m. EDT
From Correspondent Andrew Holtz
ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- In the quest to maintain a slim physique and a healthy heart, many people have found exercise machines a convenient way to burn off calories. But which machine is best? According to a study in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association, treadmills easily outpaced an exercise bike, a rowing machine, and a cross-country skiing simulator.
Researchers at the Milwaukee Veterans Administration Hospital asked volunteers to do a series of workouts on different machines, each time exercising at what felt like the same intensity. Researchers used a special device to measure the number of calories burned.
"The treadmill allowed the individuals to burn as much as 200 kilocalories per hour more than the bicycle ergometer, which came out having the lowest energy expenditure," said Dr. Martin Hoffman of the Medical College of Wisconsin.
In other words, the average medium-intensity treadmill workout burned 700 calories per hour, compared to just 500 calories per hour on the exercise bike.
Why would there be such a difference in workouts that felt equally intense? "We don't have a complete answer for that, but certainly one of the factors involved is the amount of muscle mass that is used in the mode of exercise," Hoffman said.
From the layman's point of view, one exerciser said, "I can enhance my workout and burn more calories."
Calorie burning is not the only thing to consider when choosing a workout. For example, the researchers point out that someone with arthritis or poor balance may have trouble using a treadmill. Fitness experts say you should pick an exercise machine you enjoy enough to stick with, because the greatest benefits from exercise come over the long run.
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