Blog Posts by FITNESS Magazine

  • The 9 Dirtiest Spots at the Gym

    Brian 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 12 Dirtiest Places in Your World

    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

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  • 5 Ways to Style Yourself Slimmer

    Lisa Loftus/Fitness MagazineLisa Loftus/Fitness MagazineBy Colleen Moody

    Turn heads no matter what shape you are. Try these styling tips from TODAY Style Editor Bobbie Thomas to look slimmer instantly.

    Related: Save or Stash? Your Fall Denim Guide

    Know Your Type
    The first trick to styling yourself slimmer is to determine your body shape. "Most women's bodies mimic one of a few basic shapes -- pear, inverted triangle, straight, or hourglass," says Thomas. "Once you know which shape you are, aim to keep your upper and lower halves balanced. For a full-hipped, small-chested pear this might mean a dark, simple shape on the bottom and a playful, bold blouse on top. Broad-shouldered triangles might consider more of a fitted top and a fun, flared skirt. Hourglass and straight body types can invest in belts to highlight or create waistlines."

    Graze, Don't Cling
    We're talking about how your clothes fit, not about the buffet table or your current fling. "When it comes to T-shirts, tops, skirts, pants, and dresses, fabrics that gently graze your

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  • The Dirty Secret of Outdoor Exercise

    Lynda Churilla/Fitness MagazineLynda Churilla/Fitness MagazineBy Karen Houppert

    I love to be outside. So it makes sense to exercise outdoors -- and I do, several times a week, despite living in the gritty heart of Baltimore, which has the dubious honor of being part of the 14th most polluted metropolitan area in the country. I try my best to avoid the often hot, humid metropolis, crammed with bumper-to-bumper traffic. Instead I go to a nearby park and power walk my dog on wooded paths or jog around the reservoir. There I can pretend that I'm circling a lagoon on a Maine island, that the sound of the adjacent highway is really the rush of a mountain stream complete with a flock of honking Canada geese, and that the whoosh of passing cars is a gentle ocean breeze. I exercise my imagination and my body at the same time -- a holistic fitness routine that works.

    Sort of. Sometimes.

    It works until I am choked out of my fantasy by a layer of hazy gray smog stretching to the horizon before me and I find myself hunched over, gasping for one good deep

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  • The New Rules of Fitness

    Danielle St. Laurent/Fitness MagazineDanielle St. Laurent/Fitness MagazineBy Alyssa Schaffer

    Think you know the drill on shaping up and slimming down? Think again. Find out how the latest science is rewriting the rule book on everything, including maximizing your fat burning and acing your running form, so you can finally reach your goal.

    Related: The Right Way to Do a Squat, Lunge and More

    Should You Eat Before a Workout?
    Old school: Exercising on an empty stomach will burn more fat.
    New rule: Have a 150-calorie jump-start meal an hour or two before your workout.
    Ever force yourself through a workout, even though you were starving, simply because you thought you would tap into those fat stores faster? Next time, eat up. The latest research in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that exercisers who ate breakfast before treadmilling for 36 minutes had a significantly higher fat-burning rate for as long as 24 hours compared with those who ate post-workout, even though both groups consumed the same number of calories

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  • Beat Cravings for Good: Say This, Not That

    Stephanie Russer/Fitness MagazineStephanie Russer/Fitness MagazineBy Juno DeMelo

    If my life were a musical, it would be Annie. So I ate a bagel from the break room an hour after eating a big breakfast. I'll shore up my willpower -- tomorrow! So I skipped the gym? I'll work out extra hard -- tomorrow! Bet your bottom dollar! Susan Albers, PhD, author of But I Deserve This Chocolate, says this and other cop-outs aren't just common, they're also self-sabotaging. Here, five of the top offenders and how to defeat them.

    Related: How to Manage Post-Workout Cravings

    Stop saying: "I had a bad day -- I deserve this!"
    Make this your mantra: "I deserve comfort, not calories."
    The not-so-sweet truth about that Snickers bar: "Studies show chocolate's soothing effect lasts only three minutes," says Albers. To really kick a bad mood to the curb, she suggests treating yourself to a hot shower, a quickie massage (most nail salons offer walk-in options for about the same cost as a polish change), or just five minutes of quiet, do-nothing time.

    Stop saying: "I already

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  • FITNESS 2012 Healthy Food Awards: The Best Snacks

    Claire Benoist/Fitness MagazineClaire Benoist/Fitness MagazineBy Juno DeMelo

    Every once in a while (or every afternoon, if you're like some of us!) you just have to have a treat that's crunchy and salty but not greasy. To help you get your fix, we worked with our team of nutritionists to choose eight snacks -- after taste-testing dozens -- that are totally satisfying yet contain no more than 150 calories and eight grams of fat per serving. Gratification without the guilt? Consider it in the bag.

    Related: Fast Food! Low-Cal 30-Minute Dinner Recipes

    What Makes a Winner
    Companies submitted more than 120 new salty snacks to FITNESS. Our experts -- Anar Allidina, RD, a dietitian in private practice in Toronto; Keri Gans, RD, the author of The Small Change Diet; and Marissa Lippert, RD, the author of The Cheater's Diet -- analyzed the ingredients and nutrition facts to help us determine which ones deserved to move to the next round of judging. Those finalists were sampled in blind taste tests and voted on by dozens of staffers throughout our

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  • Eating Tips from the World's Healthiest Diets

    Peter Ardito/Fitness MagazinePeter Ardito/Fitness MagazineBy Ayren-Jackson Cannady

    As a college student living in the international dorm, I should have been studying my Parisian roomie's eating habits instead of just coveting her style. In nations with low obesity rates, women know how to eat right and enjoy every bite. "The diets they follow often place an emphasis on whole grains and legumes and use meat sparingly," says Daphne Miller, MD, the author of The Jungle Effect: The Healthiest Diets from Around the World. They're a far cry from the typical U.S. diet, a processed, produce-deficient carb-fest. Although I can no longer use the excuse that I'm a broke college student, I still live on lattes, burgers, and apple cobbler. So I embarked on a 30-day culinary experiment, borrowing secrets from some of the world's healthiest places to slim my 170-pound frame.

    Related: 10 Diet Tips to Live to 100

    Week One: France

    Despite baguettes and Brie, French women have the lowest average body mass index in Europe. "It's true that the French eat for

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  • Ride On: Everything You Need to Know About Bicycling and Spinning

    Nick Onken/Fitness MagazineNick Onken/Fitness MagazineCycling is about the most fun you can have burning more than 500 calories an hour. Plus it's so simple anyone can do it. What's stopping you? Get back in the spin with our pedal-pushing pointers.

    Related: The Calorie-Blasting Cycling Workout

    The Proper Form

    Make sure the brim of your helmet is just two fingers' width above your eyebrows. Then tighten the chin strap so you can fit only one or two fingers between it and your chin.

    Beginners, position your handlebars at a height at which your back is bent no more than 45 degrees. "The lower you go, the more aerodynamic you may become, but also the greater the potential strain on your back," says Meaghen Harris, who rides for Liv/giant bicycles. (Tour de France contenders typically set their handlebars inches below seat level for that bent-over, streamlined effect.)

    Set your seat height so that you have a 25-degree bend in your knee when your foot is at the bottom of a pedal stroke. This will maximize your pedal power, a study in

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  • See Spot Run! 5 Experts Tips to Run with Your Dog

    Peter Ardito/Fitness MagazinePeter Ardito/Fitness MagazineTake dog walking to the next speed level and you and your canine will score twofer benefits. "Your dog is a great motivator who makes exercising fun," says Jt Clough, the author of 5K Training Guide: Running with Dogs. Capitalize on your daily outing by burning more calories as you build your pet's cardio fitness. Lace -- and leash -- up with these tips from Clough.

    Related: 5 Ab Exercises for a Faster Run

    Ease into it.

    Dogs should be physically active for at least a half hour twice a day, according to the American Kennel Club. Begin with 15 minutes at a comfortable clip in the first week, adding five to 10 minutes and more speed as your four-legged friend progresses, Clough recommends.

    Pace yourself -- and your pal.
    "Most dogs run faster than humans," Clough says, but you shouldn't feel you have to sprint. Heed these suggested speeds from Josiah Neuman, the training director for the Neuman K-9 Academy: Small dogs, like Boston terriers, can typically go 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 miles per hour

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  • Top 10 Make or Break Diet Moments

    Laura Doss/Fitness MagazineLaura Doss/Fitness MagazineBy Amanda E. Vogel

    Every day you're faced with important decisions about what you eat-and how much. They may not seem important, but over the course of a year, making smart choices can add up to significant calorie savings. The following moments can make or break your diet.

    Related: 10 Strategies to Keep Fat Off for Good

    The Moment: You Wake Up and Smell the Coffee Brewing
    Walk right by the pot and make yourself a cup of hot chocolate (110 calories and almost 10 percent of your day's calcium) or drink a glass of orange juice (109 calories and 15 percent of your folate needs). Unlike coffee, both offer a dose of simple carbohydrates, your body's main energy source. Caffeine may wake you up, but it won't keep you wide-eyed for very long, says Samantha Heller, R.D., an exercise physiologist and senior clinical nutritionist at NYU Medical Center in New York City. To get through the morning without nodding off, you need fuel, and that means calories. Pair the cocoa or juice with a cup of

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