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Aerobics/ROM Exercise machine

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Question
-Dear Todd,

Thank you for your comprehensive answer to my questions about the ROM.  I agree with most of what you write, especially the non-peer reviewed aspect and the transparent content of their "articles" which is simply promo material mindlessly published by lazy "science editors" who never do research but take the money from companies for this insidious form of advertising.

That said, is it remotely possible that there IS some truth to their concepts and it goes against the status quo so directly that it is all but impossible to get funding for proper studies and analysis?  This could be similar to the state of the "science of nutrition" which languished for generations before the proper studies were done to prove what was promoted as far back as the 1920's. Some of the more fringe herbs and healing techniques still face potential heavy denial and may yet prove to be quite valuable.

So $14K is ridiculous on the face of it, but maybe the principle is worth SOMETHING?

Also, did you use the ROM?  How did it make you feel after 4 minutes?

Thanks and keep up the good work!

ADAM------------------------



Followup To
Question -
Hi, Todd...

I read your concise review of the ROM exercise machine.  Could you elaborate a bit, please?

I look forward to your additional comments as I have ordered the free video but remain skeptical.

What specifically about their claims was "ridiculous", seeing how they have several scientific studies, by USC no less, to bolster their positions?

Also, Tony Robbins and some world class athletes (golfer David Duval) swear by it. Not that their opinion is sacrosanct, but it makes one think.

What was the extent of your "month long investigation"?  Did you actually try the machine for any period of time? What documents did you find to refute their own scientific claims?


Thank you very much for your extended opinion.

ADAM
Answer -
Adam,

The debate here is whether high intensity, short duration exercise is superior to moderate intensity, long duration exercise in improving health, weight and reducing the risk of chronic diseases.
First, let me site the American Heart Association Scientific Statement titled ”Exercise and Physical Activity in the Prevention and Treatment of Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease - A Statement From the Council on Clinical Cardiology (Subcommittee on Exercise, Rehabilitation, and Prevention) and the Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism (Subcommittee on Physical Activity)
http://circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/content/full/107/24/3109

Here is part of the first paragraph:
“Regular physical activity using large muscle groups, such as walking, running, or swimming, produces cardiovascular adaptations that increase exercise capacity, endurance, and skeletal muscle strength. Habitual physical activity also prevents the development of coronary artery disease (CAD) and reduces symptoms in patients with established cardiovascular disease. There is also evidence that exercise reduces the risk of other chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, depression, and cancer of the breast and colon…. This statement focuses on aerobic physical activity and does not directly evaluate resistance exercises, such as weight lifting, because most of the research linking physical activity and cardiovascular disease has evaluated aerobic activity.”

The “studies” on the ROM website are dated 1994-1996.  Certainly, if high intensity, short duration exercise proved to be as good or better than moderate intensity, longer duration exercise, then more studies and more current research would be available.  The evidence is just not there.

Before I get to their “studies”, did you look at their “Articles”?  They are nothing but advertisements in catalogs and magazines.   Are they kidding?

The first study they present, “Japanese Study 1996”, was not done with their machine, the ROM.  The study was titled “Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO2max.” and was published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 28(10):1327-1330, October 1996.  
http://www.ms-se.com/pt/re/msse/abstract.00005768-199610000-00018.htm;jsessionid

I do not know why they did not include a link to the actual study, except that they can insert their own commentary the way they present they information.  They had the nerve to say that the results would have been better if the ROM were used instead.  If you read what is put on their website, you would see the problem;
“In the moderate intensity group, seven active young males exercised on stationary bikes 5 days a week for 6 weeks at 70% of V02max for 60 minutes each session.  A second group followed a high intensity interval program.  Seven students exercised five days a week.  The subjects did seven to eight sets of 20 seconds at 270% of V02max.  The training protocol was altered one day a week.  On that day, the students exercised for 30 minutes at 70% V02max before doing 4 sets of 20 seconds intervals at 170% VO2 max.”

The study was done on “active young male physical education majors”.  I would suggest that their aerobic capacity was already pretty good and that exercising at 70% of their VO2max was not too strenuous for them.  Are you a young, physically active physical education major (age 18-21)?

They tout the “Ground Breaking Results” (their words, not from the actual study) as showing that the high intensity, short duration exercise increased the anaerobic capacity and the moderate exercise did not.  Well, DUH!  High intensity, short duration exercise is anaerobic exercise.  Moderate intensity, longer duration exercise is an aerobic exercise – the type of exercise known to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.  The results were no surprise and did not show any health benefit of the high intensity exercise over the traditional aerobic exercise.  Also, the full benefit of traditional aerobic exercise will not be seen in 6 weeks (the duration of the study) and certainly the benefits would surpass that of the high intensity protocol.  Since none of us work at an anaerobic capacity in our daily lives, there is no need to increase our anaerobic capacity and there are no significant cardiovascular benefits of improving the anaerobic capacity.  If the study subjects were more typical of the average person looking to buy a piece of exercise equipment, the aerobic benefit of the moderate intensity protocol would have been much, much better.  In my experience (15 years as a Clinical Exercise Physiologist), a sedentary person who starts a traditional exercise program can make gains in their aerobic capacity of 25-50% in 8-12 weeks.  That will not happen with high intensity, short duration exercise.

This study was not done on the ROM machine and the subjects doing the high intensity training were also doing 30 minutes of moderate intensity training a week.  This extra aerobic exercise falsely increased the aerobic benefit of the high intensity subjects.  Also, this does not correlate with what the ROM sellers state, that you can get “a cardio workout in only 4 minutes per day”.

The second “study” was done at USC.  Since this “study” was not submitted to a peer-reviewed journal, it must be looked at with a bit of skepticism.  If other experts in the field cannot read the entire study paper, the results may be considered “insignificant” or “biased”.  According to the paper on the ROM website, the ROM was tested against “a control group of six subjects who did basically no exercise during the study.”  Of course the “control” group made no gains in aerobic capacity (VO2max), body weight or body composition (body fat %).  The group using the ROM made less than a 6% improvement in aerobic capacity compared to those doing no exercise.  The difference in body composition showed a “trend for an improvement” in the ROM group.  A “trend” means that the difference was not statistically significant – this means that difference could have been simply by chance.  I sent an e-mail to the “author”, Dr. Robert Girandola, for his comments on the benefits of the ROM for the price of $14,615, but he has yet to answer.

I could not verify the existence of the final “study”, “Canadian Study 1994”.  The journal it supposedly was published in, “Metabolism” does not exist today.  The study title is not given, but a search of PubMed (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi) does not show that the author, Angelo Tremblay, PhD., published a paper on the subject in 1994.  The problem with this study is that both groups started with moderate intensity, longer duration exercise, then one group changed protocols to a high intensity protocol.  Also, the duration of the two exercising groups were different.  We have apples and oranges here and you cannot make an accurate interpretation with poor study design.  

Anyway, I'm getting tired of trying to defend what is already proven.  Believe what you want.  As they say, “There's a sucker born every minute.”  If you want to spend that kind of money on a piece of exercise equipment, I'll put some bungee cords on my stationary bike for your arms to pull on and charge you only $9,000 – and I'll guarantee you the same results as the ROM.  Honestly, a Schwinn Airdyne or a rowing machine would have the EXACT same results if used in the same way as the ROM.  Guaranteed!

Oh, yes, Tony Robbins and David Duval are not exercise or fitness experts.

Best wishes.

Todd

Answer
Adam,

Four minutes of exercise is better than none at all.  Four minutes of exercise ten times a day should give you similar health benefits as 40 minutes of continuous exercise.  Four minutes a day, in no way, will give you the same health benefits as 30-40 minutes of moderate intensity exercise.

The only thing the ROM people have correct is that 4 minutes of exercise is better than no exercise at all.

Dr. Robert Girandola from USC sent me the following reply this morning:

"Hello Todd: The study was NOT a published research study and I would never recommend the ROM for just 4 minutes, as compared to a 30 min aerobic workout. ALL I showed for them was that VERY unfit subjects can increase their aerobic capacity by working 5 days/week on the Rom for 4 min, but these were VERY unfit subjects.
bob g"

The concepts that you are wondering about are available for any college Masters or PhD candidate to investigate.  The results would be published and available for all to review.  These concepts were examined in the "studies" presented on the ROM website.  The results were not impressive and were predictable, so no significant further research has been done.  Large amounts of money are not needed.  College students and professors get grants to do whatever research they wish.  This is a dead end area.  The concept of one short term exercise bout is not ever going to be anywhere as beneficial as a moderate intensity, longer duration exercise bout.  This is scientific and physiologic truth.  If you wish to do several short term bouts of exercise with a total time or effort that equals a longer term bout of exercise, than the overall results should be similar.

Todd

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Todd Bublitz, RCEP

Expertise

I can answer questions on Cholesterol & Lipids, Cardiac Rehabilitation, and preventive cardiology. I can also explain the risk factors for cardiovascular disease and most cardiac diagnostic tests and procedures.

Experience

I have 17 years experience in cardiovascular disease prevention, rehabilitation and education. Researcher in cardiovascular exercise, cardiac function and cardiac testing. I developed and maintain Lipid-Clinic.com
Also run Nuclear Cardiology Research
Organizations
National Lipid Association
American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation
Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association
American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)

Organizations
National Lipid Association
American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation
Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association
American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)

Education/Credentials
Bachelor Degree in Exercise Physiology (Wellness Programming & Cardiac Rehabilitation)
ACSM Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist
ACSM Certified Exercise Specialist

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