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Welcome to the E-Exercise Revolution

Now you can get your workouts courtesy of your PC or iPod

WEDNESDAY, July 26, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- If you've been way too sedentary lately, you're not alone. More than half of Americans aren't active enough to meet the U.S. government recommendation for exercise -- at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity most days of the week.

Excuses run the gamut, but getting bored is a biggie.

And now, that excuse is becoming pretty passé.

Anyone with a computer or a handheld device like an iPod can take advantage of all the new avenues to fitness, including virtual personal trainers, podcasts and video streaming.

Exercise is now coming to you.

Consider the possibilities: PumpPod is a portable, digital training program that is purchased and downloaded from an Internet site and designed for use in iPods, Treos and color Blackberries. You can pick from 43 programs, including yoga, aerobic conditioning and strength training.

Virtual personal trainers, another coaching option from cyberspace, have been around a while, but are growing in number. Some sites -- a quick Google search will turn up a bunch -- offer streaming videos that offer "hardcore training" designed to produce "deeper cuts and grooves." Other sites provide personalized programs and encourage you to track your progress online.

Even traditional exercise experts say there is a time and place for this wired approach to workouts. "Certainly there is something [good] that can be said for using these forms of media," said Fabio Comana, an exercise physiologist and spokesman for the San Diego-based American Council on Exercise.

The new delivery systems for exercise instruction are best for experienced exercisers, including those who have fallen into a rut or become bored with their typical routines, he said.

For less-experienced exercisers, Comana recommends starting with some "face-to-face time" with a personal trainer before switching to the online or other high-tech programs.

"The trainer needs to understand your needs and your goals," he said. A trainer can also help you to focus your goals, so that instead of nebulous ones such as "I want to get into shape," the trainer can help you be more specific, such as "I want to be in shape to run a 5K in three months."

After a few sessions with a trainer, the e-sites can be helpful, Comana said.

"This type of technology is certainly very cost effective," he said. Virtual trainers, for instance, charge a fraction of what real-life ones do, according to the American Council on Exercise. Personal trainers who offer face-to-face sessions charge between $35 and $100 an hour, depending on location, according to council spokeswoman Kristie Spalding. Virtual trainers can run a fraction of that cost, sometimes as little as $10 a month.

But online exercise instruction, just as in-person approaches, requires a savvy consumer. Here are tips from the American Council on Exercise to help you find good virtual exercise advice and programs:

  • Find out who is operating the site. Look for background information about the staff and be sure the personal trainers have a college degree in an exercise-related field or are certified by the American Council on Exercise or similar organizations, such as the American College of Sports Medicine or the National Strength and Conditioning Association.
  • You should be able to access a sample workout plan before paying for one. Look it over and be sure it's clear. Visual instruction, such as streaming video, is typically easier to understand than text-only instruction.
  • Find out how you can contact the site if you have questions. And see if there are bulletin board-type capabilities so you can talk with other consumers who use the site.

More information

To learn more, visit the American Council on Exercise.

SOURCES: Fabio Comana, exercise physiologist and spokesman for the American Council on Exercise, San Diego; Kristie Spalding, spokeswoman, American Council on Exercise, San Diego; U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta
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