In this http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/17/are-crunches-worth-the-effort/ article the author http://www.yourpublicmedia.org/content/profile/featured/gretchen-reynolds asks the question “Are Crunches worth the Effort?” She goes on to state emphatically, “The researchers had expected that the volunteers with the sturdiest cores would outshine the others on the tests of physical performance.” In fact nowhere in the study did the researchers express having any prior bias or opinion about the outcome. Researchers, at least those who have not been co-opted by industry, go into studies with open minds. She shows her ignorance of the academic research process along with the fact that she herself has no background in fitness beyond writing about it, however erroneously.
Crunches were not only not a part of the study http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20179652 but were never even mentioned in the study. The study was done at Indiana State University, which is an athletic powerhouse with 8 nationally ranked teams, by its Athletic Dept. Funded by the NIH whose mission is; “NIH is the nation’s medical research agency—supporting scientific studies that turn discovery into health” and published in its site http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/guide/ .Note the study refers to “performance” a couple of times including the title. What the study wanted to know is whether elite athletes could improve their performance by placing special training on the core. Elite athletes, their coaches and trainers are always looking for something which will improve their performance by fractions. Olympic, world and National records are measured in fractions. A fraction of an inch in a long jump or pole vault, a fraction of an second in a sprint is what drives so many to use steroids or any other method to improve their performance. The ISU study summarizes with “Although training for core and functional movement are important to include in a fitness program, especially for injury prevention, they should not be the primary emphasis of any training program.” Here they are speaking to the elite athletes, their coaches and trainers, saying core and functional movement ARE IMPORTANT, but that the elite athletes will not see any significant improvement in their performance by doing a training program designed specifically around the core.
That is a far cry from saying, as she implies, that the average NYT reader would not benefit by going from out of shape with a pot belly to a trim and fit waistline . The readers of the NYT are ill served by such misleading and potentially health damaging twisting of fact should they follow such irresponsible advice.