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Shape Up for Summer the Healthy Way

Fad Diets and Last Minute Gym Sessions May Ultimately Only Do Harm

Bathing suits and beaches -- the allure of warmer months is right around the corner. For normally inactive people, rushing to the gym last minute to get in shape for summer could cause more harm than good to their bodies.

"The problem with this rushed approach to fitness is that the body doesn't respond to sudden exercise and unhealthy dieting in a favorable manner," said Sabrena Newton, ACE faculty member and ACE certified fitness professional.

"In fact, people who strive to get fit at the last minute risk injuring themselves from doing too much exercise too soon. The body needs time to adapt to a new exercise program through gradual increases in duration and intensity."

ACE suggests easy ways for consumers to get their bodies ready for summer in an appropriate amount of time with safe and effective exercise and eating habits.

* Avoid fad diets.

Manipulating food intake with fad diets that eliminate essential nutrients like carbohydrates only contributes to low energy and irritability. The easiest way to deal with diet concerns is to cut back portion sizes.

For example, eat two-thirds the amount you normally would at each setting and stock up on fruits and vegetables -- they are full of fiber, fill you up and satisfy your appetite!

* Steady wins the race.

If you are not currently exercising, start with a low-to-moderate intensity workout like walking or jogging.

Work up to at least 30 minutes three days a week and after four weeks you could even see a weight loss of nearly four to five pounds, while maintaining portion control in your diet.

* Strength training isn't just for body builders.

Try adding weight training to your current routine. Nothing too intimidating, but just 20 minutes of basic exercises two days a week will help firm and tone your whole body.

Strength training can also increase your metabolism causing you to burn more calories -- even at rest.

* There's no such thing as spot reduction.

Well-controlled, peer- reviewed research has yet to demonstrate it is physiologically possible to "spot reduce" (i.e., lose weight or take inches off a particular part of the body).

In fact, numerous studies have resoundingly refuted this claim. No amount of crunches or leg lifts will give you "six pack" abs.

ACE suggests eating a low-fat diet and following an exercise program that combines aerobic activity and strength training to effectively shape your body.

"If started early this process can really help you feel better, look better and develop safe exercise and eating habits for a lifetime," said Newton.

The American Council on Exercise (ACE), America's Authority on Fitness, is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the benefits of physical activity and protecting consumers against unsafe and ineffective fitness products and instruction.

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