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Watching TV makes you slack during your workout

August 13th, 2009

Good article in the Toronto Star by Paola Loriggio about the trend towards high-tech gyms. For example: the Gold’s Gym in London, Ont. that just opened one of the country’s first “cardio gyms,” where users can watch cinema-sized screens in a dark room while sweating on their cardio machines. She lists some pros and cons; most interesting to me is the following:

There’s a reason workouts seem easier when you’re watching TV – it’s because they are.

Researchers at Elon University in North Carolina studied the effects of various distractions on exercisers, and found those watching television didn’t work as hard as those listening to music, or toiling in silence.

“They were working at a very, very low intensity,” says Paul Miller, one of the researchers involved in the study, performed in 2005-2006 and slated for publication later this year.

“I think they got so engrossed, they didn’t pay attention to physical cues.”

Music, in contrast, apparently helps people push harder. I’ve often wondered about this. I suppose if you were running on a treadmill, and knew in advance what pace you wanted to run, you could just set the treadmill at that pace and it wouldn’t let you slack. Still, it’s food for thought.


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