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Spring Break for Your Body

Spring is just the right season to get your body tuned up and toned up
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Tip No. 1: A Hand Up continued...

In women, a toned muscle is a smaller, firmer one.

Muscle also burns more fat and appears to be more active than fat tissue.

Another annoying aspect of spring -- second only to drippy allergies -- are those sinewy, gleaming thigh muscles on swimsuit models.

Price recommends ditching the step classes and dragging the bike out of the garage and into the sun. "Bike up and down hills!" she chirps. "Biking on a flat area will not give you the same definition in the thighs."

Again, Incledon advises working against gravity. "Squats are king for thighs," she says. "These are also great for functioning." You have to squat every day to pick up kids or items on the floor. For comfort and to prevent injury, play around with the spread of your knees when you are squatting. "Some people need to be wider apart, some narrower."

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."

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