Getting Started with Fitness

Determined to get the family in shape? The answer may be right around the corner.


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The best solution to getting fit this year doesn't involve driving to a gym -- just step out the door. Families can get a full-body workout that shapes muscles, improves cardiovascular health, and melts away pounds, says Heather Dillinger, an exercise expert in Alexandria, Virginia. Best of all, it can be done using what's across the street and around the block.

Start by walking for two blocks, or time yourself walking for two minutes. When you come to the second block (or after two minutes), do one of the four types of exercises at right. Do this for 30 minutes daily and gradually work your way up to an hour per day. The sample activities here are just to get you started. Variety is the key to any fitness program, so remember to improvise and have fun!

The Workout

LOWER BODY: SIDE KICKS. With your left hand, grab a fence or something steady. Keep left leg straight and firmly planted next to fence. Keep right leg straight and raise it out to right side as far as possible without leaning, then swing leg behind you, then bring leg back to starting position. Do 6-8 repetitions then switch sides and repeat.

UPPER BODY: VERTICAL PUSH-UPS. Stand 2 to 3 feet away from a bench. Keep legs straight, heels flat, and place palms against bench just wider than shoulder-distance apart. Bend elbows and lower yourself until chest and chin are near bench. Hold for 2 seconds, then push back up and repeat for as many repetitions as you can.

YOUR HEART: CARDIO BURSTS. Step-ups Stand in front of some porch stairs or bleachers. Quickly step on bottom stair with left foot and lift up, raising right knee as high as possible. Without letting right foot touch the stair, lower leg back down, then step off stair. Switch sides and repeat as many times as you can.

JUST FOR FUN: HOPSCOTCH STREET. Pick a street to be the designated "hopscotch street," with no walking -- only hopping, skipping, and jumping. Reserve other streets for playing leapfrog or rolling snowballs.

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