Today we are bombarded with an incredible amount of information. If you want to research new fitness programs, you quickly find that there are a lot of program claims being made based on studies and reports. As you wade into this sea of information, you can avoid being fooled or confused by following these tips to evaluate the ideas being presented, and make an educated choice on what programs to pursueLook for the context of the reportMany news outlets present new information on exercise programs out of context. The usual method is to describe the info as a “startling new report” or a “breakthrough” of knowledge. The reality is that many programs or approaches have been studied by multiple groups over the years, these prior studies help to put new studies in the proper light. If a new study suggests you can increase your calorie burn by doing certain exercises or eating certain foods, but there are 20-30 other studies that show the opposite, you may want to be cautious about adopting an approach that runs counter to widely accepted approaches.Consider the source of the informationLook to see if the research was done by a reputable organization, such as a government lab, research university or association. If the results were generated by a little known institute, this may be a front for a company that sells the products used in the research study. If the study is presented as independent research, this gives confidence that the conclusions of the study are not biased.Don’t assume the action results in the effectMany studies use the words “associated with” or “linked to” when describing an action such as eating oatmeal with an effect like reduced cholesterol. These words do not mean that oatmeal can reduce cholesterol. There may be other factors at work. Be careful in accepting the claims presented in studies.See if the study results are compared to other groupsStudies for nutritional supplements will often make statements about a test group taking the supplement for a period of time, along with a specific diet and exercise program, and then make big claims for the effect of the supplement. Dig a little deeper and see if the study also compare to a control group that did the same diet and exercise program without taking the supplement. This approach provides a stronger basis for claims about the effect of the supplement.Check the mathYou may read of a study where results say the chances of heart attack or heart disease increase by 50 percent. Unless you know the number of people who participated in the study, the time period for the study, and how the key factors were measured, this type of statement can be misleading or overstated. Try to find the original study report to get a better handle on these types of claims.Check the length of the study and the subjectsMany clinical trials last for years, even decades. If a study was conducted over a four week period, that may not be enough time to truly understand the factors being examined in the study. In addition, the age of the participants may not really represent the greater population. Also, if the subjects are animals, the results may not translate well to human experience.People may exaggerate their results in study surveysEven in an anonymous study, people often want to show they are making progress following the prescribed diet or activity. To this end, when it comes time to fill out the survey, they overestimate their exercise and underestimate how much they ate. Just keep this in mind when you see a glowing report on a new program.Anyone starting a new exercise program or diet wants to go with a winning program. However, you need to be cautious about jumping on a hot program with lots of media attention. Get the underlying info, the original study or report, and understand the claims being made. If you do your homework, you should be able to start your new exercise program on the right foot!