Health experts keep droning on about diet and exercise, but are they overlooking an easier, simpler way to lose weight? What if you could burn calories and slim down without breaking a sweat? That’s the promise of many “passive exercise” devices such as the Chi machine (a therapeutic massager) and the AbTronic (a muscle stimulating device). Just plug it in, strap it on, and watch the pounds melt away.
If you’ve seen the infomercials or read any of the Internet sites touting these products, it’s easy to think you’ve discovered a cutting-edge revolution in weight loss. But these devices aren’t anything new. In fact, claims for “effortless weight loss” are about as old as snake oil. The packaging and marketing have evolved over the decades, but one thing has stayed the same: The devices have never delivered on their promises.
“Unless you are exercising your muscles, you are not expending energy,” says William McArdle, a nationally recognized expert on exercise and weight loss. “And if you’re not expending energy, you won’t lose weight. It’s as simple as that.”
In other words, “passive exercise” is a contradiction in terms. No device can help you effortlessly lose weight. And yet people continue to