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Do It Yourself

Are you looking for a stronger, leaner midsection? Before you invest in equipment that claims to enhance your abdominal workouts, it may be in your best interest-and your pocketbooks to hit the floor with some old-fashioned crunches. A notable study published in the Journal of Athletic Training (2004) found researchers comparing abdominal muscle activity during traditional trunk curls with muscular activity elicited by three pieces of popular at-home abdominal equipment.

A total of 23 male and female participants were asked to perform about 15 repetitions during each exercise condition while the various abdominal muscles were measured for activity. In the end, researchers found that the specialized equipment did not elicit greater muscular activity than traditional trunk curls. In addition they determined that using two particular pieces of equipment actually enhanced greater use of the hip flexor musculature, which is not desirable when performing an abdominal routine. So think twice before buying, and give yourself the chance to get back to basics. Your abs and your bank account will profit!

Man's-and Woman's-Best Friend

If you are a friend to Old Faithful, you may be on the path to sustained good health. Researchers of an interesting study just out of the University of Missouri-Columbia decided to take a closer look at the health benefits of walking a dog. In particular, this study focused on changes in body weight among participants and whether or not their furry friend was seen as a motivator for continued participation in regular exercise.

Thirteen male and female participants aged 40 to 80 took part in the year-long study. The group began with walking a dog for 10 minutes, 3 times per week and worked their way up to 20 minutes 5 times per week. At the end of the study the mean weight loss for the group was almost 14.5 pounds, and participants described their relationship with their canine walking partner as having a positive impact on their lives and their desire to walk regularly. They stated that the dogs made walking a pleasant activity instead of a chore.

What to do if you don't own or aren't interested in owning a dog? Try contacting your local animal shelter and volunteer some time walking dogs. Or give your time to friends or neighbours by offering to walk their pets.

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