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Spring Break for Your Body

Spring is just the right season to get your body tuned up and toned up

Tip No. 1: A Hand Up continued...

Incledon also advises her clients to hop, jump, and skip. For ab-flattening crunches, though, she whips out a piece of equipment -- an agility ball.

You may also want to try out a pedometer. The experts recommend 10,000 steps a day. One thousand steps is about half a mile.

Dixie L. Thompson, PhD, director of the Center for Physical Activity and Health at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, has done several studies on women and pedometers. One, on postmenopausal women, showed that most were naturally walking about 6,000 steps a day, but got to 10,000 pretty quickly. People at a high risk for developing diabetes also improved their blood sugar metabolism after walking 10,000 steps a day for eight weeks.

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Thompson tells WebMD that her latest study shows that women wearing the pedometer with a goal of 10,000 steps walked more than those whose goal was a brisk 30-minute walk every day. The 10K subjects got a pedometer to look at, while the 30-minute people kept a log of how long they walked.

"The 10K people did not hit 10K every day," Thompson says, "but they still took more than 10,000 steps overall during the test period." The implications are that the 10K group did more whether it was walking or not. "If the 30-minute people didn't take their walk," Thompson says, "they basically did nothing."

Thompson recommends taking your baseline of steps for a week. Keep a journal of any activities that take longer than 10 minutes. Then add 10% to your total steps per week. Usually this can be done more quickly when you focus on it, Thompson says.

Some suggestions: Park as far from the store or office door as you can. Walk to a cubemate's office rather than emailing. Walk to the kids' bus stop. Shop inefficiently, crisscrossing the store.

"I also recommend building a support system. Get someone to be your encourager," Thompson says.

One way to both disguise and improve a not-so-supermodel body is to get in the pool!

Cecil M. Colwin is a swim coach and author of Breakthrough Swimming. "Swimming is an exercise you can do every day of your life," he says. "There is the Japanese crawl, the Australian crawl, the American crawl. I try different techniques. In fact, I believe that swimming has to be modernized for the 21st century."

At 78, Colwin has a resting pulse of 42 but can boost his heart rate to 180. He swims a mile a day and water-walks in shoulder-high water for 400 meters.

"If I stop for two or three days," Colwin says, "I feel old age creeping up."

Could swimming keep old age from coming anywhere close? Sure! "Swimming," Colwin says, "is a workout and massage all in one. It's not jarring. Your body is virtually weightless."

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