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Exercise Semantics

If you wanted to look like Cindy Crawford or Gerard Butler, you probably turned to the South Beach Diet to lose weight and look like a star. Arthur Agatston, M.D., the creator of the diet, went on to sell millions of copies of his first book and has just released an updated version of his diet, called The South Beach Diet Supercharged.

But this new “supercharged” version is drawing criticism from exercise experts around the country. The controversy lies with the new walking plan that is promoted in the book. It claims that their interval-walking program—where people alternate between walking slowly and quickly for about 20 minutes—will get people to burn more calories than regular walking, and you’ll allegedly burn even more calories throughout the day. But some experts are saying this is misleading and that current research doesn’t support Agatston’s claims. Plus, when it comes to burning calories, every body is different.

Doesn’t this all sound like semantics? Common sense should probably tell you that 30 minutes of relatively moderate exercise won’t burn the same number of calories as 60 minutes of moderate exercise. But Agatston is trying to motivate people to get moving and eat better to lose weight. Isn’t that more important than the debate over exactly how many calories are burned?

Do you think Agatston is misleading his readers by suggesting interval walking burns more calories? Or does it not matter since his overall goal is to get people moving more? [USA Today]

Posted: 5/1/08