10 get-fit tips for 2010

Consumer Reports News: January 01, 2010 12:54 PM

As you kick off the new year with fitness resolutions, whether it's a plan to shed some pounds, add some muscle, or simply fit a little more exercise into your busy schedule, use these simple tips to recharge your workout goals:

Take the stairs. Just 7 minutes a day of walking up stairs may help protect your heart, among other benefits. But only about 6 percent of people actually take the stairs in public buildings (though encouraging signs posted in a mall nearly tripled stair use in one British study).

Weigh in. Some diet books discourage the practice of daily, or even weekly, weigh-ins, at least in the initial stages of a weight-loss diet. But the National Weight Control Registry reports that 75 percent of "successful losers" weigh themselves at least weekly. Frequent weigh-ins help you keep small weight gains from accumulating. Take a look at our new bathroom scales report and Ratings (subscribers only) on 11 models. 

Lose the TV. People who lost at least 10 percent of their weight and kept it off for five years or more had fewer TVs in their homes than overweight people, according to a recent study published by the Annals of Behavioral Medicine. The study found that people with fewer TVs also had more exercise equipment in their homes and ate less junk food.

Try toys. Dumbbells, resistance bands, a jump rope, stability balls, and more can be used to keep your workout interesting, particularly if you work out at home. Throw in an exercise video or two and you can create your own mini-gym for less than $100. 

Use a machine. If your wallet allows, a workout machine can be an important investment for your health. For aerobic training, try a treadmill, a bike, a ski machine, or an elliptical machine. (Subscribers can take a look at our latest Ratings for ellipticals, treadmills, and exercise bikes.)

Do your chores. You can trim your to-do list and your waistline at the same time. a half-hour of dusting burns about 75 calories; painting and decorating, 90 calories; vacuuming, 105 calories; and lawn-mowing, 165 calories. 

Get the right shoes. The wrong gym shoes can cause ankle pain, redness, or other foot discomfort. If you vary activities, consider a cross-trainer. If you mainly stick to one, such as tennis, look for shoes made specifically for that sport. For more recommendations, see our latest report on athletic shoes

Aim for 3000. Steps, that is. Walking that many that fast, at least five days a week, will help you meet the government's recommended fitness goals, according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. And you'll probably get the same benefit by doing 1,000 steps in 10 minutes, three times a day. See our recent pedometer Ratings (subscribers only) to track your steps.  

Be more social. Research shows that people are happiest when exercising with people in their age group. Try taking a group exercise class or dance class that offers instruction in addition to social support. 

Join a close-by gym. People exercise more when they live or work near a health club, park, or trail—perhaps because the proximity makes it easier to work out without compromising family or work obligations. Read more on what you should know before joining a gym

Ginger Skinner

We want to help you reach your fitness goals in 2010. For more get-slim secrets, workout advice, food tips, and exercise equipment Ratings, check out our new do-it-yourself guide to exercise and dieting


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