• [Article 77]20 Fun Fitness Facts for 2014

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    There are so many fun fitness facts out there that just aren’t true! ..or mostly not true. We’ve compiled a list of what we think is the best, most interesting, fun and brow raising fitness and exercise facts out there! We hope that you enjoy our list! If you have any you would like to add, please use the comments below!

     

    1. Laughing out loud reduce cortisol levels and improves your bone density
    2. You cannot target fat loss
    3. Exercising releases endorphins and makes you feel happier
    4. It is far more expensive to eat healthier than to eat junk food
    5. Approximately 80-82% of people on average that start a fitness program will quit soon after
    6. Even if you’re ‘skinny’, you may still have a high body fat % which is unhealthy
    7. When you run, your body puts 6 x the pressure on your feet (no wonder they get sore)
    8. Recent studies have suggested that every time you go for a one hour walk your life expectancy increases by 2 hours
    9. If you train with a partner you are far more likely to succeed
    10. People that get sufficient vitamin D on average weigh far less than those that don’t
    11. After the age of 30, women lose minimum 0.5% muscle mass every year
    12. If your partner is active, you are 85% more likely to be regularly active also
    13. On average, we breathe about 700 gallons of air every hour!
    14. Studies suggest it takes 70 muscles in our body to speak a single word
    15. The strongest muscle in the body is the heart
    16. The more muscle that you have, it is said that the more calories you will burn at rest
    17. Laughing out loud reduce cortisol levels and improves your bone density
    18. Muscle does not weigh more than fat, it is simply more dense
    19. Exercise a stimulant for the nervous system and improves mental health
    20. Exercising in the morning will make you more energised for the rest of the day.

     

     

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  • [Article 81]7 Most Effective Exercises

    So you want to lose weight, define your abs, don’t want to buy or use those expensive machines AND want to do this at home! So, what can you do to accomplish this? Oh, and because your significant other wants to accomplish the same, are there different plans or ways for men and women? Of course, you both have busy lives so you cannot devote hours every day to reach these goals. Is this possible? And if it is, how do you accomplish it?Fitness experts have repeatedly guided people to accomplish these goals and show that it is possible to reach these goals with appropriate advice about exercise techniques. However, most do not say it is easy and most say you have to be consistent. They usually give these exercises and exercise strategies as their favorites because they seem to be most effective to accomplish these goals. In addition, a healthy diet is also important, but that is presented in other articles. The focus of this article is exercise — the seven favorite, most effective ones to reach your goals. People can do all of these at home, at work, on vacation, or almost anywhere without any elaborate equipment (except for a good pair of gym shoes and a consistent will to reach your goals!).

    Obviously, any exercise program depends on the underlying health status of the participant. Be certain that your health is appropriate for exercise prior to attempting a new program.

    Interval training: This refers to doing almost any type of exercise at a variable pace. For example, if you are walking or doing push-ups, vary the pace of the exercise. You can walk normally for a minute or so, and then speed up a bit, and then return to normal speed several times. For exercises like push-ups, do a few slowly and do others more quickly and, like walking, repeat these faster and slower intervals several times. Interval training helps the body to adjust its aerobic system (heart rate, breathing, and metabolism) to burn more calories to lose weight and strengthen muscles. While some purists may say interval training is not an exercise, others say yes it is because it is a mind over matter exercise that makes you aware that the body can adapt to increased physical demands that will be required to reach your goals.

    Walking: A walk is one of the best exercises to begin with in any exercise program. Men and women can do this together as a calorie-burning cardiovascular exercise. One hour of interval walking can burn about 500 or more calories; it takes about 3500 calories to lose a pound so you could lose a pound for every week you walk for an hour. A word of caution: Beginners should start walking about 5 to 10 minutes at a time and slowly increase their times by about 5-minute intervals to allow the cardiovascular system and muscles time to adapt to the new demands.

    Squats: This exercise is an excellent calorie burner because squats use the largest muscle groups in the body (quadriceps and hamstrings or the thigh muscles and the gluteals or buttocks). Squats are exercises that consist of an up and down motion of the body that resembles the motion of getting out of a chair. In fact, some trainers suggest that a person new to trying to do squats can practice by getting up and down from a chair. The proper way to begin is to keep your back straight, feet spread apart about shoulder length with both arms extended, knees over the ankles and then go downward with your butt just touching the chair; then return to your original standing position. Eventually, stop using the chair and you’ll be doing effective squats. Some people with knee discomfort may be concerned about doing squats; they should check with their doctor or orthopedist but some knee problems result from quadriceps problems and squats may help resolve them. Also, avoid bending your knees to 90 degrees or less.

    Lunges: Lunges work the same large muscle groups as the squats, but can work additional leg muscles and improve balance. Lunges are done by taking a big enough step forward that the knee forms about a 90-degree angle. However, you must to keep your spine in a neutral position (upright position, no bending forward). Your trailing leg, at the same time, should have its knee come close to the floor and have the toes accept significant body weight. Then, return to a standing position and repeat with the other leg. After you master the lunge, you can vary the exercise by placing the advanced leg to the right or left to mimic more variable movement, such as the angles you might encounter during a nature hike.

    Push-ups: The basic push-up is the classic exercise to strengthen the upper body (chest, shoulders, and triceps) and core (abdominal muscles). Beginners can first do push-ups by spreading their fully extended arms slightly more than shoulder width apart with their hands against an unmovable object like the edge of a kitchen countertop. Then bend your elbows until your chest almost touches the edge of the counter op, allowing only your toes to bend and keeping your back and legs in a straight line. Then push your body away from the countertop until your arms are again fully extended. As you progress, you should use lower stationary objects (for example, a stationary bench) and eventually do the push-up with your hands on the floor.
     

    Abdominal crunches: The standard abdominal crunch is an excellent way to strengthen and define those abdominal muscles (commonly termed a “six pack” but not so commonly seen in many men and women!). There are two ways to start; either with you lying on the floor or on a non-slip rug with your hands placed lightly behind your head (never pull your head up with your hands or arms) and with your knees bent so your feet are flat on the floor. Other experts suggest doing the same with your knees bent and your feet not touching the floor. When you keep your feet off of the floor, it helps you avoid arching your back, a problem that can actually weaken the abdominal muscles. The “crunch” is done by not arching the back. The lower back is pushed downward and then contracting the abdominal muscles and tucking in your chin slightly, lift your neck, shoulders, and back off of the floor. Some experts suggest you hold the raised position for a second or so before returning slowly to the starting position. A variation to strengthen and define the oblique abdominal muscles uses the same technique except you must twist your abdomen to the right or left before lifting the head, shoulders, and back. Although many people think the way to lose belly fat is to do crunches, it is not. Belly fat that covers up those “six packs” is reduced by burning more calories than you take in, so, paradoxically, if you want that “six pack” to show, the fluid six packs (beer) must go, along with other caloric foods.

    Bent-over row: This exercise can give the last groups of muscles (back and biceps) a good workout. Beginners can start by sitting on a bench, but the exercise is usually done while standing. You should stand with your feet shoulder-length apart, with knees bent, and hips flexed forward at hip level. Tilt the pelvis forward slightly, contract the abdominal muscles, and extend (straighten) the upper back. Hold your hands straight down beneath your shoulders and make a fist. Then flex your elbows so that your forearms and hands come all the way up and in toward your body. Pause for about a second or two, and return your flexed arms to their previously extended position. People soon add small weights instead of just making a fist. However, you don’t have to buy anything, just find two similar shaped items that weigh the same (for example, two books or two bottles of a sports drink) and there you have the weights you need!

     

    If you are still not exactly sure how to do these exercises, most can be viewed in diagram formats on the internet or in videos online. Before engaging in these exercises, you should be healthy enough to complete them. Your primary care doctor or your orthopedist should be able to help you if you have any doubts or questions. There are other good exercises for people to do, but these 7 seem to be the best, when done in a series, one after another. Almost all of the exercise experts suggest that if you do these 7 exercises properly, you should be on your way to firming up and losing weight. However, there is no guarantee you will reach the goals. You must remember that a healthy diet is as important as exercise and together, they both give you the best way to lose weight and gain or define musculature.

     

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  • [Article 80]Top 3 Fitness Challenges ~ Legs, Abs, and Arms

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    Even the most die-hard fitness fanatics have trouble finding the motivation to work out from time to time. Whether you’re looking for something to kick your butt back into shape or your just plain bored with your usual fitness routine, sometimes you just need a bit of a challenge.

    We’ve put together a list of our three most popular fitness challenges, complete with the most effective exercises for arms, legs, and abs to shake up your usual program.

     

    Top 3 Fitness Challenges~ Legs, Arms, and Abs:

     

    Summer Legs Challenge
    Beautifully toned and defined legs, can now be yours 365 days a year!  The Summer Legs Challenge is designed for 7 days. This legs fitness program may be completed at home or the gym.

     

    Summer Arms Challenge
    Summer or not, there’s no better time to get those beautifully toned and defined arms. Any of these arms fitness routines can be done at home or in the gym.

     

    30 Day Ab Challenge
    There’s more to being in shape than just arms and legs workouts. Beautiful defined abs are possible for anyone and at any age. There’s more to creating toned and defined abs than crunches…a lot more. This abs fitness challenge is designed for 7 days and is loaded with abs exercises that are sure to get you the toned tummy you’ve dreamed of.

     

    Looking to jumpstart your fitness routine fast? Try our 6 Week Emergency Makeover Program. Get the  6 Week Emergency Makeover Program and The Skinny Ms. Recipe Collection bundle package. 

    To stay up to date on all the latest workouts and fitness tips from Skinny Ms., be sure to like our Facebook page and follow us on Pinterest.

    Let us know how your fitness challenges are going! Leave us a comment below.

     

     

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  • [Article 79]25 Easy Ways To Fit In 10 Minutes Of Exercise

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    Here are simple, practical ways to work exercise into your day even when you’re short on time:

    Around the House

    1. When you go outside to pick up your morning newspaper, take a brisk 5-minute power walk up the street in one direction and back in the other.

    2. If you’re housebound caring for a sick child or grandchild, hop on an exercise bike or do a treadmill workout while your ailing loved one naps.

    3. Try 5 to 10 minutes of jumping jacks. (A 150-pound woman can burn 90 calories in one 10-minute session.)

    4. Cooking dinner? Do standing push-ups while you wait for a pot to boil. Stand about an arm’s length from the kitchen counter, and push your arms against the counter. Push in and out to get toned arms and shoulders.

    5. After dinner, go outside and play tag or shoot baskets with your kids and their friends.

    6. Just before bed or while you’re giving yourself a facial at night, do a few repetitions of some dumbbell exercises, suggests exercise instructor Sheila Cluff, owner and founder of The Oaks at Ojai and The Palms, in Palm Springs, CA, who keeps a set of free weights on a shelf in front of her bathroom sink.

    Adapted from Fit Not Fat at 40-Plus

    While Waiting

    7. Walk around the block several times while you wait for your child to take a music lesson. As your fitness level improves, add 1-minute bursts of jogging to your walks.

    8. Walk around medical buildings if you have a long wait for a doctor’s appointment. “I always ask the receptionist to give me an idea of how long I have left to wait,” Cluff says. “Most are usually very willing to tell you.”

    9. While your son or daughter plays a soccer game, walk around the field.

    10. Turn a trip to a park with your child into a mini-workout for you. Throw a ball back and forth and run for fly balls.

    At Work

    11. Walk to work if you can. “I walked to work for months, 1 1/2 miles each way,” says Mary Dallman, PhD, professor of physiology at the University of California, San Francisco, and she really saw results.

    12. If you dine out on your lunch hour, walk to a restaurant on a route that takes you a little bit out of your way.

    13. If you have a meeting in another building, leave 5 or 10 minutes early (or take some time afterward), and do some extra walking.

    14. On breaks, spend 5 to 10 minutes climbing stairs.

    15. If you’re pressed for time and must wait for an elevator, strengthen your core with ab exercises. Stand with your feet parallel and your knees relaxed. Contract the muscles around your belly button. Then elevate your upper torso, and release. Finally, contract your buttocks for a few seconds.

    16. Use a ringing phone as an excuse to stretch your back. Stand with your feet astride. Imagine that you are encased in a plaster cast from your waist to your head. Gently tilt the lower part of your pelvis backward. Contract your abdominal muscles. Then gently tilt your pelvis forward.

    When You’re Watching TV

    17. Put away your remote and change channels the old-fashioned way—by getting up and walking to the television set.

    18. Dance as if you were 16 again. Put on a music program or MTV. Then dance like crazy, advises Peg Jordan, PhD, RN, author of The Fitness Instinct. “Free yourself to think of movement as something that you have a right to do,” she says.

    19. During commercials, jog in place. A 150-pound woman can burn up to 45 calories in 5 minutes. Or try our Couch-Potato Workout.

    20. Do leg exercises and lifts with small weights while you watch The Weather Channel, cooking shows, movies, or the news.

    While Traveling

    21. Pack your sneakers and a fitness DVD. Call ahead to make sure your room has a DVD player. If it doesn’t, ask to rent one from the hotel.

    22. If you’re traveling by car, stop twice a day for short, brisk walks and some stretching.

    23. During layovers at airports, avoid the mechanized “moving carpets” that transport travelers from concourse to concourse. “If you’re in between flights, walk around the concourse as much as you can,” suggests Cluff.

    24. Book a hotel room between the fifth and eighth floors, then ignore the elevator. Better yet, take two stairs at a time. (Check with the hotel first because for security reasons some hotels do not allow guests to use stairs except for emergencies.)

    25. Do calf stretches while riding in elevators.

     

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  • [Article 78]The Top 10 Fitness Myths You’re Probably Wrong About

    Think water flushes toxins out of your body? Think it’s crucial to stretch before a workout? Think again.

    Here, the most popular fitness and diet myths you’ve bought into — and why they (and you) are wrong.

     

    Myth 1: Drinking water can help you lose weight

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    Fact: Many sources tout drinking copious amounts of water to be the all-curing panacea of the Gods. If you’ve heard that drinking lots of water improves your skin tone, or that it flushes toxins from your body, you know what we’re talking about. But the fact of the matter is, the evidence for such catch-all health benefits is lacking.

    Doctors at the University of Pennsylvania have found that both the aforementioned “benefits” simply aren’t true. Another myth is that drinking lots of water will make you less hungry. Sorry to tell you this — you may eat less because you’re too busy trucking back and forth between the bathroom and dinner table, but that’s about it.

    Oh, and that whole “recommended eight glasses a day” thing? Also false. You should drink only when you’re thirsty, and this is done just to replace the amount of water a healthy adult loses every day — about four to six glasses.

     

    Myth 2: Stretching before working out is crucial to preventing injury

    Fact: Stretching after a workout can be beneficial, but stretching before a workout actually doesn’t increase your range of motion. In fact, some studies suggest that stretching destabilize muscles, making them less prepared for strenuous exercise, especially if you’re doing something like weight-lifting. Instead, do a warm-up, which gets your blood pumping.

     

    Myth 3: Vegetarian diets are healthier than meat-inclusive ones

    Fact: Sure, eating lots of veggies is healthy. But in general, cutting out an entire food group — even if it is one that can be high in saturated fat — is bad idea. Meat is a key source of iron, which keeps your energy levels up, allows you to think clearly, and produces enzymes that fight infection. Moreover, researchers at Pennsylvania State University have shown that iron deficiency increases a woman’s risk for postpartum depression.

    Vegetarians often try to get their iron fix through lentils, beans, fortified cereals and tofu. However, you’re still missing protein. Make sure to eat eggs, dairy products, or soy at every meal to get your animal-friendly dose.

     

    Myth 4: Lifting weights will make you look bulky

    Fact: If you’ve been avoiding the free weights for fear of becoming the Incredible Hulk, no need to flee anymore. When it comes to increasing muscle size, testosterone is key. Men have 20 to 30 times the more testosterone than women, which is why they can bulk up so noticeably. But for you to reach Arnold Schwarzenegger proportions would require you to do far more weight-lifting than the average woman, plus have some sort of hormone imbalance (either genetic or synthetically induced, as with steroids).

    In fact, “strength training will help you lose weight faster and keep it off in the long run,” notes Jeffrey Janot, PhD, an assistant professor of exercise physiology at South Dakota State University in Brookings. If you also do cardio, it’ll help you retain muscle as you drop fat, as well as prevent your metabolism from slowing. So don’t focus all your efforts on the elliptical machine — some bicep curls could actually help you reach your ultimate goal.

     

    Myth 5: Sports bras are just to prevent painful bounce

    Fact: Wrong — sports bras are to prevent painful bounce and permanent breast sag. That’s right — it’s not just old age and gravity that’ll weigh your chest down. High-impact activities, like jogging or aerobics, can stress your Cooper’s ligaments (the connective tissue that keeps breasts firm), causing your breasts to sag more quickly.

    According to the American Council on Exercise, compression bras work best for smaller-busted women; the more well-endowed (typically a C cup or larger) should opt for an “encapsulation” bra that supports each breast separately. Replace workout bras every six months to a year.

     

    Myth 6: A hot bath will prevent muscle soreness

    Fact: Cold water is a better bet, says Marty Jaramillo, CEO of the I.C.E. Sports Health Group. “Immersing yourself in chilled water is like an ice pack for your entire body,” he says.

    When you exercise, your blood vessels open wider and stay that way for at least an hour afterward. Soreness occurs when waste products like lactic acid settle in your muscles through these dilated vessels. Colder temps constrict vessels, limiting the amount of waste product that accumulates, explains Jaramillo.

     

    Myth 7: Running is counterproductive to strength training

    Fact: Sounds like you need to find a new trainer! “Running is definitely not counterproductive to building muscle, unless you’re looking to dramatically increase muscle mass,” says Gregory Florez, CEO of FitAdvisor.com. “In fact, as a weight-bearing exercise, running helps develop more lean muscle mass in the lower body — which also keeps your bones healthy.”

    That doesn’t mean it’s a substitute for strength training, though. “Include lower-body strength moves like squats and lunges and upper-body moves like push-ups and pull-ups to reduce injury risk, increase stamina, and boost metabolism,” adds Florez.

     

    Myth 8: Holding weights while doing cardio increases calorie burn

    Fact: Yes, but not enough to make it worthwhile. The added intensity of holding weights while doing cardio does bump your calorie burn slightly, but it can also lead to elbow and shoulder injuries. “The risks outweigh the benefits,” says Douglas Brooks, an exercise physiologist in Mammoth Lakes, California. “You’ll expend more energy if you increase the weight you carry, but excessive or uncontrolled movements can damage the joints or cause muscle injury.”

    A better option for blasting extra calories: Increase your speed or resistance level on either the treadmill or the elliptical machine.

     

    Myth 9: Fresh fruit is better than frozen fruit

    Fact: Actually, no. “With shipping and storage, fresh fruit can often sit around for as long as two weeks before it hits your supermarket,” says Suzanne Henson, RD, director of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s EatRight Weight Management Program. “During that time, it can lose a lot of its nutrients, especially vitamin C.”

    In contrast, frozen fruit is often picked and frozen at the peak of freshness. It’s also a better choice for concocting smoothies. But watch out for frozen fruits in syrup — it packs extra calories.

     

    Myth 10: Doing crunches and ab workouts will get rid of belly fat

    Fact: You can do crunches till you pass out, and you still might not get a six-pack. Why? If you have a high percentage of body fat, your abs will be covered with — you guessed it — fat. And no, doing ab exercises won’t necessarily make you lose that belly fat, either. The truth is, you can’t spot-train (otherwise, wouldn’t we all be running around with flat stomachs and slim thighs?). In order to get visibly toned abs, you have to first reduce your overall body fat, which means plenty of cardio, coupled with strength training for faster results. After that, the fruits of your labor should start becoming apparent.

    Originally published on FitnessMagazine.com, December 2008.

     

     

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  • [Article 76]11 Facts About Fitness

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    1. The human body has 650 muscles.
    2. The only exercise you should hold your breath for  is underwater swimming.
    3. The heart is the strongest muscle in the body.
    4. Nearly 50 percent of all young people ages 12-21 are not vigorously active on a daily basis.
    5. For every pound of muscle gained, the body burns 50 extra calories every day.
    6. Only 13 percent of men are physically fit.
    7. More than 30 percent of children ages 6 to 11 are overweight, and over 15 percent are obese.
    8. On average, a person walks 70,000 miles in their lifetime.
    9. Roughly 4,000 children and teenagers begin smoking every day.
    10. Exercise makes you feel more energized because it releases endorphins into the blood.
    11. Movement in exercise helps relieve stress by producing a relaxation response which serves as a position distraction.

     

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  • [Article 75]Top 10 Fitness Facts

    Want to be sharper at work? Feel less tired at home? Spend some quality time with your spouse? How about enjoying a cookie without guilt?

    If you answered “yes” to all of these questions (and who wouldn’t?), exercise is the answer.

    Being physically active offers benefits far beyond the obvious. (Of course, an improved physique and a clean bill of health aren’t too shabby, either.)

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    If you’ve been looking for the motivation to begin an exercise program or get back into working out regularly, here are 10 fitness facts that may help inspire you to get off the couch.

    1. Exercise Boosts Brainpower

    Not only does exercise improve your body, it helps your mental function, says certified trainer David Atkinson.

    “Exercise increases energy levels and increases serotonin in the brain, which leads to improved mental clarity,” says Atkinson, director of program development for Cooper Ventures, a division of the Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas.

    All that makes for a more productive day.

    “It is clear that those who are active and who exercise are much more productive at work,” says Todd A. Astorino, assistant professor of kinesiology at California State University-San Marcos.

    Improved productivity not only makes you a better worker, it makes things better for everyone in the workplace. Companies with less wasted work hours and less sick time end up with lower health care costs — and an improved bottom line, Astorino says.

    2. Movement Melts Away Stress

    As much as it may stress you out just to think about exercising, once you actually start working out, you’ll experience less stress in every part of your life.

    “Exercise produces a relaxation response that serves as a positive distraction,” says Cedric Bryant, chief exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise. He says it also helps elevate your mood and keep depression at bay.

    You’re not the only person who will benefit from more happiness and less stress in your life. When you’re less stressed, you’re less irritable, Atkinson says — and that could improve relationships with your partner, kids, and co-workers.

    3. Exercise Gives You Energy

    You might be surprised at how, say, popping in a workout tape for 30 minutes in the morning can change your whole day. When endorphins are released into your bloodstream during exercise, says Astorino, “you feel much more energized the rest of the day.”

    And when you improve your strength and stamina, it’s easier to accomplish everyday tasks like carrying groceries and climbing stairs. This also helps you feel more energetic over the course of the day.

    A common excuse among Atkinson’s clients is that they’re too tired to exercise, he says. While exercise may make you feel more tired at first, he says, that won’t last long.

    The physical tiredness you feel after working out isn’t the same as everyday fatigue, he says. Besides, once your body adjusts to exercise, you’ll have more energy than ever.

    4. It’s Not That Hard to Find Time for Fitness

    The key, says Atkinson, is to use your time more wisely. Think about killing two birds with one stone.

    Take your kids to the park or ride bikes together, and you’re getting physical activity while enjoying family time, he says. Beyond that, go for a hike, take the kids swimming, or play hide-and-seek, tag, softball, or horseshoes in the backyard.

    At work, he says, schedule a meeting on the jogging track or on the golf course.

    Also, forget the idea that you have to trudge to the gym and spend an hour or more doing a formal workout. Instead, you can work short spurts of physical activity into your day.

    “Everyone has 20 minutes,” Atkinson says. “Everyone has 10 minutes to jump rope, and sometimes that’s better than 20 minutes of walking or running.”

    Indeed, squeezing in two or three bouts of 15 or 20 minutes of activity is just as effective as doing it all at once, says Astorino. Vacuuming the house in the morning, riding bikes in the park with the kids in the afternoon, then taking a brisk walk in the evening can add up to an active day.

    Recent U.S. government guidelines say that to lose weight and keep it weight off, you should accumulate at least 60 minutes of exercise a day, says Astorino. But half an hour a day is all you need to reap the health and disease-fighting benefits of exercise.

    5. Fitness Can Help Build Relationships

    Think of what exercising with a partner can do for a relationship, whether it’s with a spouse, a sibling, or a friend you used to go to lunch with once a week.

    Not only that, says Astorino, but exercise is always more fun when there’s someone to do it with. So plan to walk with your spouse after dinner every night. Meet your sister or that friend for tennis or an aerobics class instead of lunch.

    Besides, Astorino says, people who have exercise partners stay with their programs and reach their goals more often than those who try to go it alone.

    “For long-term weight loss, you need to have social support,” Astorino says.

    6. Exercise Helps Ward Off Disease

    Research has shown that exercise can slow or help prevent heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis (bone loss), and loss of muscle mass, says Astorino.

    It also helps ease some aspects of the aging process.

    “Because exercise strengthens the muscles and joints, it is going to reduce your odds of having some of those aches and pains and problems most adults have, mostly because of the inactive lives they lead,” Bryant says.

    Provided you don’t overdo it, he says, exercise can even boost immune function — so you spend less time down with a cold or flu.

    “There isn’t a major health problem where exercise cannot have a positive effect,” says Byrant.

    7. Fitness Pumps Up Your Heart

    Not only does exercise help fight disease, says Bryant, it creates a stronger heart — the most important muscle in the body. That helps makes exercise — and the activities of daily life — feel easier.

    “Your heart and cardiovascular system will function more effectively,” says Bryant. “The heart will build up less plaque. It will become a more efficient pump.”

    And “when the heart becomes stronger, it pumps more blood per beat, so at rest, the heart rate is lower,” says Astorino. “It’s not going to have to beat as fast” to expend the same amount of effort.

    Within only a couple days after you start exercising, Astorino says, “the body readily adapts to the stimulus it’s getting and it becomes easier. You will feel less fatigue. It will not take as much effort when it comes to breathing. You shouldn’t have as much pain or soreness.”

    8. Exercise Lets You Eat More

    Pound for pound, muscle burns more calories at rest than body fat. So the more muscle you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate. And, of course, you also burn calories while you’re actually exercising.

    All this means that “cheating” with a cookie once in a while isn’t going to take you back 10 steps. “Can you eat anything? No,” says Atkinson. “But you can afford to enjoy some of the things you really like when you exercise regularly. You can better get away with those things in moderation than you can when you’re not working out.”

    9. Exercise Boosts Performance

    After a few weeks of consistent exercise, you may feel your clothes fitting differently and see that your muscle tone has improved, Atkinson says.

    You may also notice your newly pumped-up muscles in other ways, especially if you’re a recreational golfer or tennis player, or like a friendly game of pick-up basketball, says Atkinson. Exercising consistently will strengthen your muscles, increase flexibility, and improve your overall performance.

    “Your muscles will work much more efficiently and you’ll gain a greater sense of endurance,” says Bryant. In addition, he says, your reaction time and balance will improve.

    10. Weight Loss Is Not the Most Important Goal

    Weight loss is the reason many people exercise in the first place. But it’s certainly not the sole benefit of an exercise program.

    Bryant says the long-term goal of weight loss is sold too heavily to people starting fitness programs, and that can be discouraging. People have trouble sticking with something if they don’t see results quickly.

    “Really, they should think about the level of functioning in the activities of daily living,” says Bryant. “That can serve as the motivation to keep them coming back for more.”

    So whatever weight loss goal you have when starting a fitness program, don’t make it your only goal. Strive to feel better, to have more energy, to be less stressed. Notice the small things that exercise does for you quickly, rather than getting hung up on the narrow goal of the number on a scale.

    “With a goal of losing weight and enhancing health, exercise has to become a part of a person’s life, not an afterthought,” Astorino says.

     

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  • [Article 74]10 Workout Secrets From the Pros

    Experts and successful exercisers reveal the top tips and tricks they use to get the most from their fitness routines.

    Getting and staying fit can be a challenge. For many of us, it’s hard just to get up off the couch. So what’s the secret of people who have managed to make exercise a way of life?

    1. Be Consistent

    Chase Squires is the first to admit that he’s no fitness expert. But he is a guy who used to weigh 205 pounds, more than was healthy for his 5’4″ frame. “In my vacation pictures in 2002, I looked like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man at the beach,” says the 42-year-old Colorado resident. Squires decided enough was enough, cut out fatty food, and startedwalking on a treadmill. The pounds came off and soon he was running marathons — not fast, but in the race. He ran his first 50-mile race in October 2003 and completed his first 100-miler a year later. Since then, he’s completed several 100-mile, 50-mile, and 50k races.

    His secret? “I’m not fast, but I’m consistent,” says Squires, who says consistency is his best tip for maintaining a successful fitness regimen.

    “The difference between my success and others who have struggled is that I did it every single day.” — Chase Squires 

    “It all started with 20 minutes on a treadmill,” he says. “The difference between my success and others who have struggled is that I did it every single day. No exercise program in the world works if you don’t do it consistently.”

    2. Follow an Effective Exercise Routine

    The American Council on Exercise (ACE) recently surveyed 1,000 ACE-certified personal trainers about the best techniques to get fit. Their top three suggestions:

    • Strength training. Even 20 minutes a day twice a week will help tone the entire body.
    • Interval training. “In its most basic form, interval training might involve walking for two minutes, running for two, and alternating this pattern throughout the duration of a workout,” says Cedric Bryant, PhD, FACSM, chief science officer for ACE. “It is an extremely time-efficient and productive way to exercise.”
    • Increased cardio/aerobic exercise. Bryant suggests accumulating 60 minutes or more a day of low- to moderate-intensity physical activity, such as walking, running, or dancing.

    3. Set Realistic Goals

    “Don’t strive for perfection or an improbable goal that can’t be met,” says Kara Thompson, spokesperson for the International Health Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA). “Focus instead on increasing healthy behaviors.”

    In other words, don’t worry if you can’t run a 5K just yet. Make it a habit to walk 15 minutes a day, and add time, distance, and intensity from there.

    4. Use the Buddy System

    Find a friend or relative whom you like and trust who also wants to establish a healthier lifestyle, suggests Thompson. “Encourage one another. Exercise together. Use this as an opportunity to enjoy one another’s company and to strengthen the relationship.”

    5. Make Your Plan Fit Your Life

    Too busy to get to the gym? Tennis star Martina Navratilova, health and fitness ambassador for the AARP, knows a thing or two about being busy and staying fit.

    Make your plan fit your life, she advises in an article on the AARP web site. “You don’t need fancy exercise gear and gyms to get fit.”

    If you’ve got floor space, try simple floor exercises to target areas such as the hips and buttocks, legs and thighs, and chest and arms (like push-ups, squats, and lunges). Aim for 10-12 repetitions of each exercise, adding more reps and intensity as you build strength.

    6. Be Happy

    Be sure to pick an activity you actually enjoy doing, suggests Los Angeles celebrity trainer Sebastien Lagree.

    “If you hate weights, don’t go to the gym. You can lose weight and get in shape with any type of training or activity,” he says.

    And choose something that is convenient. Rock climbing may be a great workout, but if you live in a city, it’s not something you’ll be doing every day.

    7. Watch the Clock

    Your body clock, that is. Try to work out at the time you have the most energy, suggests Jason Theodosakis, MD, exercise physiologist at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. If you’re a morning person, schedule your fitness activities early in the day; if you perk up as the day goes along, plan your activities in the afternoon or evening.

    “Working out while you have the most energy will yield the best results,” Theodosakis says.

    8. Call In the Pros

    Especially if you’re first getting started, Theodosakis suggests having a professional assessment to determine what types of exercise you need most.

    “For some people, attention to flexibility or to balance and agility, may be more important than resistance training or aerobics,” he says. “By getting a professional assessment, you can determine your weakest links and focus on them. This will improve your overall fitness balance.”

    9. Get Inspired

    “Fitness is a state of mind,” says fitness professional and life coach Allan Fine of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. One of Fine’s tricks to get and stay motivated is to read blogs or web sites that show him how others have been successful. “Who inspires you?” he asks.

    10. Be Patient

    Finally, remember that even if you follow all these tips, there will be ups and downs, setbacks and victories, advises Navratilova. Just be patient, and don’t give up, she says on the AARP web site: “Hang in there, and you’ll see solid results.”

     

     

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  • [Article 73]15 Best Workout Tips of All Time

    Want to know the secrets to getting a toned, trim body in record time? We did too, so we went straight to the top personal trainers, exercise physiologists and fitness instructors for the ultimate moves and motivation tricks to kick a fitness routine into high gear. Put a few of these tips into action each week and you’re guaranteed to see faster results!

    1. Tone Up on the Treadmill
      “Save time at the gym with this 10-minute cardio/sculpt session: Hop on a treadmill holding a three- to five-pound dumbbell in each hand, and set the speed to a brisk walk. Do a one-minute set each of shoulder presses, biceps curls, triceps extensions, side laterals, front laterals and standing triceps kickbacks one after another as you walk. I’s an amazing upper-body challenge that also gets your heart pumping. Do this series two or three times each week. As you improve, work up to doing four-minute sets.”
      –Michael George, trainer and owner of Integrated Motivational Fitness in Los Angeles

     

    1. Power Up Your Runs
      “Adding wall sits to the end of every run will strengthen your quads, hamstrings and glutes, improving your speed and endurance. Lean against a wall with your feet shoulder-width apart, then squat until your knees are bent at 45 degrees. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds; work up to doing 10 sets. Add a challenge by including heel raises: Lift your left heel, then the right, then lift both together twice.”
      –Mindy Solkin, owner and head coach of the Running Center, New York City

     

     

    1. Chart Your Progress
      “Stay motivated using a fitness report card. Jot down these subjects: Cardio, Muscle Conditioning, Flexibility and Attitude. Set goals (for example, doing 10 “boy” push-ups) and grade yourself A through F at least four times a year. When you see how much you improve, you’ll want to stay in great shape.”
      –Ken Alan, Los Angeles–based personal trainer

     

    1. Try This All-in-One Toner
      “A side-step squat with wood chop works your arms, torso, abs, back, legs, inner thighs and butt. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart holding a three- to four-pound medicine ball in your hands. Bend your arms up so that the ball is at eye level over your right shoulder. As you bring the ball toward your left knee, step out with your left leg and bend it no further than 90 degrees, keeping your right leg straight. Return to the starting position. Do 10 to 15 reps and repeat on the other leg.”
      –David Kirsch, trainer and author of The Ultimate New York Body Plan (McGraw-Hill, 2004)

     

    1. Break Out the Shovel
      “Why pay someone to clear snow from your driveway? Besides burning nearly 400 calories per hour, shoveling snow develops muscular endurance and power. But be safe: Minimize the amount of snow on each shovelful, and bend from your knees and hips, not your back.”
      –Tom Seabourne, Ph.D., exercise physiologist and sports psychologist at Northeast Texas Community College in Mount Pleasant, Texas

     

    1. Work Out During Your Workday
      “Sit on a stability ball to strengthen your core, and keep dumbbells or exercise tubing at your desk. Squeeze in 12 to 15 reps of exercises like dumbbell curls, overhead presses and ab crunches; aim for two or three sets of each. This gives you more free time to fit in fun workouts like biking or tennis.”
      –Gregory Florez, personal trainer and CEO of Salt Lake City — based FitAdvisor.com

     

    1. Take This Jump-Rope Challenge
      “The best cardio workout is the jump-rope double-turn maneuver. It’s intense: You’ll burn about 26 calories per minute! Do a basic jump for five minutes, then jump twice as high and turn the rope twice as fast so it passes under your feet twice before you land. This takes timing, patience and power. But you’ll get in great shape just by working at it.”
      –Michael Olajide Jr., former number one world middleweight contender and cofounder/trainer at Aerospace High Performance Center in New York City

     

    1. Give Yourself a Break
      “You don’t have to be a fitness saint to get results. Follow the 80/20 plan: Eighty percent of the year, you’ll exercise regularly and eat well. Know that you’ll slip 20 percent of the time due to holidays and work deadlines. When you accept that fitness isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition, you’re more likely to stick with it for life.”
      –Maureen Wilson, owner/personal trainer/instructor, Sweat Co. Studios, Vancouver, B.C.

     

    1. Get a Jump on Weight Loss
      “Add plyometric box jumps to your workout to improve your cardiovascular stamina and leg strength — you’ll really sculpt your hamstrings, quads and glutes. Find a sturdy box that’;s at least one foot high [like a Plyo Box, $139.95; 888-556-7464; performbetter.com]. Starting from a standing position, explosively jump to the middle of the box, then jump back down. Repeat 20 times.”
      –Michael George

     

    1. Don’t Skimp on Carbs
      “Your body needs them to fuel a workout, so reach for fruit or high-fiber crackers an hour beforehand. If you’e exercising for 90 minutes or longer, include some protein so that the carbs break down more slowly, giving you longer-lasting energy. Your best bets: low-fat cheese and crackers, trail mix or half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”
      –Cindy Sherwin, R.D., personal trainer at the Gym in New York City

     

    1. Maximize Your Crunches
      “Don’t relax your abs as you lower your chest away from your knees during a crunch — you get only half the ab-toning benefit! To get the firmest abs possible, you need to sustain the contraction on the way down.”
      –Steve Ilg, founder of Wholistic Fitness Personal Training and author of Total Body Transformation (Hyperion, 2004)

     

    1. Intensify Your Push-Up
      “Squat-thrust push-ups get you in great shape because they work your upper body, core and lower body and improve agility, strength and endurance all at once. From a standing position, bend down, put your hands on the floor shoulder-width apart, and jump your feet back into plank position. If you’re strong, cross your ankles; otherwise, jump your feet wide apart. Do a push-up, then jump your feet together or uncross your ankles. Jump your feet back to your hands and stand up. Do eight reps total, rest for one minute, and repeat.”
      –Keli Roberts, Los Angeles — based trainer

     

    1. Paddle Your Way to Flatter Abs
      “Go kayaking to get a taut stomach — it’s ideal because much of your rowing power comes from your core. Mimic the motion and resistance of the water at home by looping an exercise band around the bottom of a table leg or other fixed object. Sit on the floor with legs extended, knees slightly bent; grasp one end of the band in each hand. Rotate your torso to one side as you bring the elbow back slightly, then switch sides. Do three sets of one to three minutes each.”
      –Barbara Bushman, Ph.D., associate professor of health, physical education and recreation at Southwest Missouri State University

     

    1. Make Over Your Running Routine
      “Unless you’re training for a marathon, skip long, slow, distance running — sprinting builds more muscle. Add a few 10- to 60-second sprints to your run, slowing down just long enough to catch your breath between them.”
      –Stephen Holt, 2003 ACE Personal Trainer of the Year

     

    1. Super-Sculpt Your Butt
      “Get great glutes by targeting the muscles and connective tissues buried deep in your body. To hit them, do high-intensity squats, such as jump squats. Then, blast off butt flab with cross-country skiing, bleacher running and stair climbing.”
      –Steve Ilg

     

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  • [Article 72]9 Fitness Tips for a Killer Body

    Use these kick-ass tricks from Malin Akerman’s trainer, former Navy SEAL Logan Hood, to get a killer body of your own

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    HOW TO MOVE

    Do it in threes
    “Any workout has three variables: weights, intensity, and volume,” Hood says. To keep your body guessing, focus on one variable per workout: Increase the weight but lower the number of reps one day; lower your standard weight but add a set the next; use your standard weight but do more reps faster on another.

    Don’t give up on the pullup
    Pullups, which strengthen the lats, biceps, middle back, and shoulders, are an effective upper-body exercise. Can’t squeeze one out? Hood suggests doing plank pulls: Lie with your chest under a weight bar set to knee height on a squatting rack. Grab the bar with an overhand grip and, keeping your body in one line, bend your elbows and pull your chest toward the bar. Lower back to start; do 10 reps.

    Row your boat
    Before you strength train, spend 10 minutes on a rowing machine to get blood flowing to all the muscles and joints in your body. “It’s better than a treadmill or a stationary bike because it engages your upper body and core, not just your legs,” Hood says.

    Short-circuit your routine
    Blast fat with a circuit that includes strength training and cardio: Do a set of push-ups, jump rope for a minute, do a set of squats, jump rope again; continue to alternate strength and cardio. “You’re building muscle while keeping your heart rate high,” Hood says.

    HOW TO MUCNH

    Minimize refined carbs
    Out: most breads, cookies, chocolate, white rice, nearly every cereal, honey, and anything with corn syrup or sugar. “As soon as you swallow a refined carb, it starts to spike your blood sugar, which produces excess insulin, a hormone that can be responsible for holding on to fat stores,” Hood says.

    Eat five times a day
    That means three meals and two snacks: one between breakfast and lunch, and one between lunch and dinner. “You’ll have a steady stream of energy; plus, less food more often isn’t as taxing on your digestive system as three big meals,” explains Hood, adding that five daily feedings stabilizes your blood sugar, so you won’t have crazy mood swings or hunger pangs.

    Up your protein
    Hood suggests a Zone-inspired diet–a balance of protein, complex carbs, and fat in every meal and snack–to protect against insulin overload. The benefit of high-quality protein, like chicken, turkey, and low-fat Greek yogurt: It contains amino acids, which help muscles recover afterworkouts.

    Limit your liquids
    Ditch juices, vanilla lattes, and sodas–all have unneeded sugar and calories. “You drink for three reasons,” Hood says: “If you’re thirsty, drink water. If you need stimulation, drink black coffee. If you want to take the edge off, choose a vodka martini or a similar non-mixed, simple drink. In other words, no mojitos.”

    Yes, that means diet soda, too
    Although the science on the fake sweeteners used in diet sodas is still undecided, Hood is against them. “The sweeteners may elicit an insulin spike or, at the very least, psychologically prepare you for something sweet, but there are no calories to back the signal,” he says.

     

     

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