Blog Posts by FITNESS Magazine

  • How to Relieve Stress Naturally

    Laura Doss/Fitness MagazineBy Chee Gates

    Your misplaced wallet. A dead car battery. Stress is a thug we encounter almost hourly. The question is, do you have what it takes to stand up to the bully? If you're like most people surveyed last year by the American Psychological Association, you may be losing the good fight: Sixty percent said stressful situations left them irritable, 53 percent felt fatigued, and 52 percent were unable to sleep at night.

    Stress takes a toll on more than just your mood. All that tension puts a whammy on your waistline, thanks to the stress-related hormone cortisol, which rises during anxiety-inducing events and makes you crave fatty, sugar-packed foods. Those excess calories are more likely to be stored in the gut as visceral fat, the type that's been linked to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and gastrointestinal cancers. Visceral fat also increases the production of cortisol, perpetuating the cycle (as if you need any further assistance).

    Moreover, "chronic stress releases

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  • The Dirtiest Spots at the Gym

    Brian Klutch/Fitness MagazineBrian Klutch/Fitness MagazineBy Maridel Reyes

    You hit the gym regularly to be healthy and fit. Yet you may be getting more than flat abs and strong arms there. Gyms are hotbeds of germ activity, researchers say. Norovirus, which causes stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea, can survive for a month on the surface of exercise machines. The fungi responsible for foot infections multiply at a blinding pace in the shower. And microbes like MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can lead to dangerous skin infections, lurk in the locker room. To help you stay safe, FITNESS asked top experts to ID the biggest danger zones in the gym and to share the best germ-beating strategies.

    Related: The 7 Worst Health Habits Ever

    Hot Spot: Free Weights, Weight Machines, Exercise Balls
    Germ Meter = High

    Because so many people handle it, this equipment is rife with bugs and viruses that can lead to colds and other infections. "I've even found MRSA on an exercise ball in a gym," says Philip Tierno Jr., PhD, a clinical professor

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  • The Anti-Diet: How Not Dieting is the Key to Losing Weight

    Denise Crew/Fitness MagazineBy Sally Kuzemchak, RD

    Put your calorie-counting, food-journaling ways on freeze. Here's new thinking on exactly how to eat to lose.

    Related: 10 Strategies to Lose Fat and Keep It Off

    The Intuitive Eating Approach
    Jill Carlson, 36, had issues with ice cream. So the Chicagoan, who had lost and regained 60 pounds through a series of different diets, did something drastic. Instead of following conventional weight-loss wisdom and banishing Ben & Jerry's Cake Batter from the house, she filled her freezer with it, stocking 10 pints and giving herself permission to eat it. At first she did -- a lot. But after a couple of months the sweet treat sat untouched. "It lost its sparkle," she said. "I knew at that point that ice cream -- or any food -- no longer had an unhealthy grip on me."

    Jill is among the growing number of women who are turning their back on typical diets. They're making peace with food and their weight, using what experts have dubbed a no-diet approach.

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  • Running Gear: When to Save Vs. Splurge

    James Michelfelder/Fitness MagazineBy Colleen Moody

    We know. It's hard to spend so much money on something you're just going to get sweaty in. And sometimes it's okay to be cheap! "A general rule of thumb I follow when buying my running clothes is that the closer it is to your skin, the better quality it should be," says Jessica Matthews, exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise and certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor. Read on for her advice about smart spending.

    Related: How to Find Your Perfect Workout


    Bottoms
    When shopping for shorts, keep your eyes out for some serious savings. "Tons of brands are making running-specific shorts with fun additions like mini pockets for your keys," says Matthews. "You can definitely save and still get a good value, so long as they don't ride up." But if you prefer running in tights, splurge for the better quality. "You can feel the difference between a pair that's made right versus one that's not," says Matthews. Choosing a pair that's

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  • 5 Seasonal Allergy Remedies

    Karen Pearson/Fitness MagazineKaren Pearson/Fitness MagazineBy Paige Greenfield

    After months of indoor exercise, it's finally warm enough to ditch the treadmill and hit the trails to get your sweat on. You lace up your sneakers, step outside and -- ah-ah-ah-choo! -- hay fever puts a damper on your spring fever.

    If you've noticed more sneezing recently, you're not alone. Scientists have seen a two- to threefold increase in some common adult seasonal allergies since the 1970s; the condition affects approximately 46 percent of people in the United States today. They pinpoint "spring creep" as the culprit. No matter what Punxsutawney Phil predicts, spring arrives earlier than it did 20 years ago, extending the growing season by 10 to 14 days, according to data from the U.S. Global Change Research Program. That's great news if you want your tomato plants to grow like gangbusters but not so swell for your sinuses. "Pollen hangs around longer because warm weather does, and today it lingers much longer than it used to," explains Kim Knowlton, senior

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  • Danger in the Air: How to Protect Yourself from Lung Cancer

    David Arky/Fitness MagazineDavid Arky/Fitness MagazineBy Hollace Schmidt

    Lung cancer is earning a scary new reputation as a disease that can strike fit young women who've never smoked. Here's what you need to know to protect yourself.

    Related: How to Protect Yourself from Lung Cancer

    Lung Cancer and Nonsmokers: Know Your Risk

    Kathy O'Brien of Westfield, New Jersey, thought her eyes were playing tricks on her. She was driving her three kids to school two years ago when she noticed that the stop sign was blurry. Her eye doctor sent her to a retina specialist, who spotted six tumors in her left eye and four in her right. The next day -- after a battery of tests including an MRI and a CT scan -- Kathy was in an oncologist's office, blindsided by news that was beyond shocking: She had stage IV lung cancer. "Never in a million years did I think I'd hear some­thing like that," says Kathy, who had recently run her fifth marathon and had become certified as a Bar Method exercise instructor. "It seemed impos­sible because I had never smoked."

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  • Sole Mates: Tips to Finding the Right Running Buddy for You

    Laura Doss/Fitness MagazineLaura Doss/Fitness MagazineBy Colleen Moody

    Let's face it -- running is a great way to stay in shape, but there are some days when it can get pretty boring. If you've hit a plateau despite trying new territories and techniques, it might be time to add something to your workout: a running buddy.

    Running with a partner can help the clock tick faster, while boosting your mile time. But not all friends make great pals to pound the pavement with. Blue Benadum, a California-based running coach, marathoner, and Lululemon brand ambassador, shares some important things to keep in mind when finding someone who's at your speed.

    Related: 15 Best Marathons for First-Timers to Run

    1. Define Your Levels and Your Goals
    Before you set off on a group trot, Benadum suggests sitting down sans buddy and figuring out what your goals are. "If you're running for the social aspect, to help you get outdoors, and to enjoy the process of the experience, you'll be looking for someone a little different than if you are training for an

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  • The 10 Best and Worst Foods for Sleep

    Karen Pearson/Fitness MagazineBy Melissa Romero

    Ah, sleep. It's something we relentlessly crave, but we never seem to get enough of it. Aside from the daily stressors in life, there's one big thing that can keep you from snoozing -- your diet. Here, the best and worst foods to eat for sleep.

    Related: The Top 10 Foods for Flat Abs

    Best: Cereal and Milk
    Your go-to breakfast staple can also moonlight as the perfect pre-bedtime snack. Eating a combination of carbohydrates and protein enables our bodies to produce the "happy hormone" serotonin, which in turn produces melatonin, a neurotransmitter that has a calming effect, explains Danielle Omar, a DC-based registered dietitian. Just stay away from sugary cereals to avoid getting a sugar high right before bed. Other safe nighttime snack bets include cheese and crackers, cottage cheese and fruit, or oatmeal with milk for a similar soothing effect.

    Worst: Protein

    While protein is a vital part of our daily diets, too much of it means less sleep at the end of the day.

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  • 7 Signs You're Way Too Stressed

    Andrew Parsons/Fitness MagazineAndrew Parsons/Fitness MagazineBy Stacey Colino

    Yeah, a toxic day at work or a major fight with your boyfriend can give you a killer headache. But did you know that other symptoms like painful periods, memory problems, and hives could also be due to stress? "Anxiety can cause hormonal, immunological, and muscular changes that can occur silently at first," explains Bruce Rabin, MD, PhD, medical director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Healthy Lifestyle Program. "People often aren't aware of them until they produce uncomfortable, disruptive symptoms." Don't ignore the seven signs; they're your body's way of telling you to relax.

    Related: Beat Stress, Weigh Less: Calorie-Burning Yoga Workout

    Sore, Bleeding Gums
    Tension weakens your immune system, which can allow bacteria in the mouth to gain more of a foothold and eventually cause gum irritation and inflammation, explains Kimberly A. Harms, DDS, consumer advisor for the American Dental Association.

    Nix It: Now is not the time to slack off on the Read More »from 7 Signs You're Way Too Stressed
  • Heal Better: Smart Workout Pain Solutions

    Denise Crew/Fitness MagazineDenise Crew/Fitness MagazineBy Richard Laliberte

    A real pain in the butt (hamstring, ankle, or shoulder) doesn't have to put your active routine on ice. Here are smarter ways to ease the aches.

    Related: How Healthy Are You? 10 Quick Self-Checks

    How to Overcome Workout Pains and Injuries
    A few years ago Megan Brady, 36, signed up for a half-marathon near her town of Waterloo, Iowa, and launched herself into a training program. But during a six-mile run five weeks before the big race, she had an uh-oh moment. "My right hamstring suddenly felt tight and started cramping," says Megan, who put on her game face and kept running. She hoped the pain would go away once she got home, but no such luck. Her leg ached for weeks. "Whenever I stood up, I'd have to limp because I was so sore," she says. "When I'd start running, the pain would get really intense."

    Megan, an athletic trainer at a local university, knew what the problem was: tendinitis, an overuse injury that would heal only if she rested her muscles for at

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