Brisk walking allied to the use of an abdominal muscle stimulation machine can improve fitness and body appearance, according to a study carried out by researchers at the University of Ulster.
The researchers from the University's School of Health Sciences tested a 32-strong group of normally sedentary women, drawn from within the University, over an eight week period.
One group engaged solely in taking 30-minute walks five times a week; another group carried out the walks while wearing an electrical muscle stimulation device; and, the third group (the control group) continued with their normal lifestyle.
Each of the participants was tested before, during and after the eight week period to measure their height and body mass; blood pressure; fitness on a treadmill and ability to perform stomach crunches.
The study found that those who wore the device while walking achieved:
The greatest decrease in body mass. A reduction in waist and hip measurements. The greatest increase in abdominal muscle strength and endurance. An improvement in stomach appearance and clothes fit.
Dr Marie Murphy, the principal investigator on the study, said: "Improved muscle tone, particularly in the abdominal region, is a frequently cited motive for engaging in exercise programmes.
"The health benefits of brisk walking in reducing cardiovascular risk have been well documented. We were examining, as part of a sponsored research programme, the efficacy of a combined programme of brisk walking and abdominal muscle stimulation on fitness, health, body composition and body self-perception among sedentary women. The answer appears to be 'Yes' according to the results of the study".
She added: "Importantly, we discovered that those who undertook exercise – with or without the muscle stimulation device - had greater self-esteem and more satisfaction with their bodies at the end of the study period".
Source: Eurekalert & othersLast reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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