Get the Most from Exercise DVDs—Without the Hazards

Get the Most from Exercise DVDs—Without the Hazards

Medically reviewed in September 2020

You may be a fan of Jillian Michaels’ BodyShred or Shaun T’s CIZE Dance Workout, but over-sexualized, boot-camp-style exercise DVDs can backfire big time if you’re new to working out, have body-confidence issues or are dealing with injuries or physical restrictions.

Researchers at Oregon’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences recently examined 10 popular exercise DVDs. They found the running commentary often contains demotivating, hope-crushing, emotionally-hurtful declarations. Phrases included everything from “You should be dying right now,” (Fun?) to “Say hello to your sexy six-pack.” (Where?)

The researchers also found the super-body sexuality of instructors implies that the user should and can look like that—a guaranteed set-up for discouragement. And, they point out, there’s no scientific evidence to back up most claims of a routine’s safety or effectiveness.

But we don’t want you to give up on at-home exercise! So how can you choose a DVD that will suit your abilities, goals and body type? 

Be honest about YOU: Are you a beginner? A non-athletic senior? Do you have sore joints? An injury? If so, look for DVDs that target your needs or start with our free YOU The Owner’s Manual Workout at Sharecare.com.

Know your limits: Don’t feel you have to do everything on the DVD exactly as described. If a bend or jump is too much, do a modified version or skip it. You may eventually be able to achieve it—or not. It doesn’t matter. What matters is enjoying it, doing it consistently, and increasing your endurance and strength.

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