At-Home Fitness Video could be Harmful, Study Says

By Cheri Cheng - 08 Jan '16 16:31PM

Trying to get fit with the help of at-home DVDs can potentially lead to psychological harm, a new study is reporting.

In this study, the researchers headed by Brad Cardinal, a kinesiology professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University analyzed 10 popular fitness DVDs that involved an instructor. They focused on the imagery and the motivational words said by the instructor.

They found that these tapes tended to hyper-sexualize the body and perpetuate body norms that might not be realistic for everyone. The instructors were typically white, slim females who wore very little clothing

The team also found that not all of the motivational statements used were helpful. One out of every seven statements could be considered to be demotivating, which can, in turn, harm the person's mindset about body image and exercise. Examples of these types of statement included "you better be sweating" and "you should be dying right now."

"These findings raise concerns about the value of exercise DVDs in helping people develop and commit to a workout program," Cardinal commented in the press release. "There are a lot of exaggerated claims through the imagery and language of 'do this and you'll look like me.'"

The researchers hope that their findings can increase awareness for people who like to use at-home fitness videos or are interested in starting them.

"Buyers should beware when making these purchases," Cardinal said. "Remember that we all have different body shapes and styles, and our bodies may respond differently to the exercises being shown. Don't expect to get the same results as what you see on the screen or compare yourself to others."

The study's findings were published in the Sociology of Sport Journal.

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