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Workout Devices Get Rated

Experts Argue Pros, Cons of the Latest Exercise Equipment
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Inversion/Gravity Tables

Bryant: These have been marketed to people with back problems and for exercise. When the body is inverted, or turned over, the spine supposedly gets some relief from stress of gravity. People perform abdominal exercises and others from the inverted position. His concern: "The blood pressure in your eyes and blood vessels in the head and neck area are increased, which could be dangerous for individuals with heart disease, stroke, or glaucoma risk factors."

Fichera: "I was advised never to exercise in the inverted position. Inversion puts a lot of pressure on the lower back. Men especially have this problem because they hold a huge portion of their weight in the upper body region. When they are inverted, the pressure shifts to the lower body, which can put pressure on the spine. For a certain percentage of the population, this could be very hazardous. There are other ways to strengthen the spinal muscles."

Kangoo Jumps

Bryant: "These aren't shoes, they're devices you wear on your feet. The intent is to lessen impact associated with weight-bearing exercise. Some preliminary research conducted at a couple of universities has shown they may be right. But one concern might be that it alters a person's gait, which could cause other orthopedic problems."

Fichera: "It looks like these are good for softening high impact, but it would not generate results an athlete is training for. It also looks like it would throw your posture off and potentially create an injury. When you land, it's not guaranteed you will land properly. I'm not sure it's safe for older or heavier people."

Indoor-Cycling Bikes

Bryant: These are "pretty effective -- they can be adjusted to match individual body dimensions. The speed can also be adjusted. However, most people don't know exactly how to adjust these bikes. There are bike-fitting and ride-along videos to teach you. One of the best out there is Le Mans Webmaster -- it helps keep you motivated."

Fichera: Indoor-cycling bikes "provide a very smooth form of low-impact exercise. But I don't think they have the variability in resistance that a standard bike has. Also, in classes you are pushed way beyond your comfort zone. To get results, you have to feel some degree of discomfort or burn. I can't see someone doing it in their own home."

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