The purpose of this memo is to provide an analysis of three Nordic Track advertisements. The analysis tends to explain if the advertisements were able to convey the message through the appropriate claim, evidence, and reasoning. The analysis also discusses if the advertisements provided clear and attractive arguments in establishing the claims.
Burn 5X Calories - Just by Walking
The treadmill workout is considered to be an effective calorie burning exercise plan. Treadmill exercise imitates walking or jogging on the natural flat ground surface. The "Burn 5X calories - just by walking" advertisement states one can burn 74 calories on a flat surface by walking for 20 minutes at 2 mph; however, the same person can burn higher amount of calories walking on the treadmill at different levels of upward angle of inclination at the same speed, and for the same time. The Nordic Track claims that one can burn 5 times higher calories on a 40% inclined surface than on a plain surface. From the attached picture it can be derived that one would burn 3 times higher calories on 18-degree inclined surface, 4 times higher calories on 27 degree inclined surface, and 5 times on 36 degree inclined surfaces. To provide reasoning, Nordic Track uses the statement that it is a fact that walking on an inclined surface requires more muscle activity, and that is why one can burn more calories on an inclined surface than on a flat surface. Walking on the inclined surface requires more muscle activity is truly an accepted fact, but it does not prove Nordic Track's claims of the given relationship between angles of inclination and calorie burning values. There is no evidence that demonstrates that, at 36 degrees or 40% inclination, one can burn 396 calories in 20 minutes by walking at 2 mph speed.
The reasoning of this claim should be classified as an Argument from ignorance unless Nordic Track provides authentic information about the relationship of surface inclination and calorie burning values. The same advertisement also claims that inclined surface not only burns calories but also builds and shapes different parts of body muscles. As evidence, Nordic Track has provided results of the study conducted by the Utah State University. The result displays that body muscles are more active while walking on a 25% inclined surface than on a flat surface; however, some parts are more active and other parts are less active. For example, quad muscles are 6 times more active while calf muscles show 1.3 times more activeness. It is important to note that Utah State University study does not state about the walking speed and length of time used in their experiment. On the other hand, Nordic Track in their reasoning applies the Utah State University results to their parameters, which are 20 minutes walking at a speed of 2mph. Nordic reasoning attempt may be categorized as Oversimplifying fallacy since argument omits information in establishing a link. Though Nordic attempted to present a clear and attractive argument to demonstrate that Incline Trainer can help burn 398 calories in 20 minutes by walking at 2 mph on a 40% inclined surface but failed to do so due to lack of authenticated evidences and logical reasoning.
It was mentioned above that Treadmill workout imitates walking on the natural ground surface. During a walk or jogging over a natural flat surface human foot strikes the ground, and ground energy are transmitted back to the leg. The physics of this phenomenon implies that if the ground energy is absorbed and kept in a foreign material then less force will be transmitted back to the leg, which in the long run is better for the joints. This concept of physics is used in cushioning of Treadmill exercise equipment. Nordic Track claims that Reflex cushioning is a unique solution that provides comfort during the workout while keeping the joints protected. This claim is supported by the Nordic statement that the proposed cushion underwent the rigorous test for countless hours under maximum load. The above argument should be classified as Ad Homonym and Oversimplifying fallacies. The argument is Ad homonym because the statement "Nordic tested it for countless hours under maximum load" does not necessarily mean that it is the perfect cushion unless backed by some statistics and comparison against industry-accepted values. It is Oversimplifying because it is well known that a cushion absorbs shock; however, it is not clear why Reflex cushion is better than any other cushion. The argument does not have any important information to link the claim. Nordic attempted to explain in the reasoning section of the advertisement by stating that most of the Treadmill cushions are made of the single isolator, which is spread only in the middle of the section, but Reflex Cushioning is spread along the entire length and suspends between two isolators. However, without statistics, this statement remains as an Oversimplifying fallacy. Nevertheless, it must be noted that the advertisement has presented an attractive and explanatory photographic image that clearly displays the outer structure of the cushion and perhaps implies that it can work like a car's suspension mechanism and extend comfort during the workout.
What Can the Incline Trainer Do For You?
The attractive part of this advertisement is the sexy body of Jillian Michaels that everyone would dream to have, especially women. This advertisement through this photograph claims that one could achieve a beautiful body like Jillian Michaels if one would use Incline Trainer manufactured by Nordic. In this advertisement, Nordic used Jillian's photograph both for the claim and evidence. The logic used to derive the claim from the evidence is Jillian's personal statement. Jillian describes that at 25% or 23-degree inclination one can burn 3 times higher calories, and at 40% or 36-degree inclination one can burn 5 times higher calories than one would burn on a flat surface. Jillian just repeated the information given in the Nordic's advertisement "Burn 5X calories - Just by Walking." Jillian has the legal right to make the above statement without giving any proof. However, if Nordic decides to use her statement for using as reasoning in order to justify the claim, then the company has to provide additional research information that supports Jillian's statement. Otherwise, it becomes a fallacy type as an Argument from authority category.
Nordic used three parameters to describe calorie-burning values. They are variable angles of inclination from the horizontal surface, a constant value of walking or jogging speed, and a constant value of exercise duration time. However, further research showed that calorie burning with this equipment depends on surface angle variation, speed variation, and exercise duration variation (Healthy Living). It is true that combination of these three parameters can bring tremendous effect in the use of a treadmill. Nordic did not use this opportunity in any of its advertisements. Calorie burning is closely related to heartbeat rate. At a higher heartbeat rate more oxygen is pumped to the muscles, and the larger amount of oxygen causes burning of more calories when one exercises. This phenomenon can be achieved through the combination of above-described parameters. The "Burn 5X Calories - Just by Walking", and "What Can the Incline Trainer Do For You?" advertisements stressed more on the angle of inclination and stated that 40% inclination can burn 5 times higher calorie with compare to walking on a flat surface at the same speed and duration. However, a primary question remains unsolved; if 40% inclination is safe for treadmill exercises since all available research data are limited to 15% inclination. One can achieve a much better result at a safer inclination by increasing speed and duration. The 200-pound person walking 4 mph for one hour will burn 608 calories when the treadmill is set to a 5 percent incline, 862 calories when it is at a 10 percent incline, and 1,106 calories when it is at a 15 percent incline (Healthy Living). Nordic advertisements need to consider this memo and improve their advertisements with more reliable and comparable facts.
Healthy Living. (n.d.). The speed and the incline of the Treadmill and the effect of burning calories.