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activity, according to a recent study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, in Bethesda, Maryland. Health experts recommend com- bining regular activity with consum- ing lean proteins, healthy fats, limited starches and no added sugars.


Myth 8: Stretch Before


Exercising New research from the American Council on Exercise recommends stretching at the end of a workout. “It is safer and more effective to stretch muscles that are properly warmed and more pliable,” says Matthews, who also recommends beginning a workout with simple movements such as arm circles and leg swings. She notes, “Stretching can help to improve posture and flex- ibility, plus reduce overall stress.”


Myth 9: Crunches Cut Belly Fat


There’s no such thing as spot reducing. While crunches strengthen abdominal muscles, they will not shrink your waist- line, says Karp. Instead, try exercises


such as squats, lunges and yoga plank holds or kettlebell repetitions to lose stubborn belly fat.


Myth 10: Women Using


Weights Get Bulky The truth is that most weightlifting women won’t end up with a big, bulky physique because they have less tes- tosterone, are smaller in size and have less muscle tissue than men, advises Matthews. “Any kind of strength train- ing will help improve bone density, increase muscle mass and decrease body fat in both men and women.”


Myth 11: Exercise is Hard


Physical activity should be fun. It’s best to start simply, add a variety of physi- cal activities and challenges and keep at it. Schedule time for exercise and treat it like any other daily ap- pointment; don’t cancel it. Alexander Cortes, a nationally certified strength and conditioning coach with Ulti- mate Fighting Championship Gym, in Corona, California, concludes, “When health is a priority, exercise is the most


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Lynda Bassett is a freelance writer near Boston, MA. Connect at LyndaBassett.com.


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