Is This The End of Fitness DVDs?

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14_IMG_042120130404_KavaGorna-openerPhotographed By Kava Gorna.
Have you ever bought a much-lauded workout DVD only to watch it languish, unused, for years? Or, have you actually slipped on your spandex and hit "play" on that fitness film, only to spend the whole routine talking on the phone or prepping dinner instead?

Well, there might be a science-backed reason why you're not dying to get fit via DVD. New research published online by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research finds that live workouts — you know, the kind that involve actual face time with an instructor — deliver better results.

For the small study, 20 moderately active, college-age females completed two identical exercise sessions: The first was done with a personal trainer, and the other with a DVD. Researchers monitored energy expenditure and heart rate during both sessions, and they found that both stats were significantly higher during the live workout. (We'll have to wait until the full study is published for exact numbers.) And, 89% of the participants preferred the live workout to the DVD.

The reason why might simply (and obviously) be that working out with a trainer allows for immediate feedback; he or she will nudge you to push harder and tweak your form, both of which improve your performance. Plus, you’re visibly held accountable for your efforts; it’s much easier to slack off when the coach isn’t there to keep a watchful eye. Also of note, the study participants never exercised as a group, which might also be a viable (and motivating) option if you can’t spring for a personal trainer.

Of course, there are plenty of fitness DVDs we love, and when we’re crunched for time, they can be a quick-and-easy way to get moving — and any physical activity is better than nothing at all. But, this study proves a little accountability can go a long way. So, whether it's a trainer, a group class, or even a little friendly competition with your treadmill neighbor, consider taking a break from flying exercising solo.