Site Seer: Get fit on the Net
November 28, 1996
Web posted at: 6:00 p.m.
From CNN Interactive Writer Liza Kaufman Hogan
(CNN) -- We do it every year. Stuff ourselves full of turkey, dressing and pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving then gorge our way through the rest of holiday season. Come January, we look in the mirror and ask ourselves: Who's that flabby person staring back at me?
But this year it can be different. With a little help, you can pace yourself and maintain an exercise regime so that your first New Year's resolution won't be to lose 5 pounds but to run five marathons.
Whatever your goals, here are a few sites to help you keep your fitness in focus and your waist inside your belt.
Shape up without leaving your desk
HEY!, or Health, Exercise and You, offers lots of good advice on nutrition and exercise. Here you'll find short, concise articles on everything from the psychology of fitness to skin care tips.
The best information can be found in health and exercise sections of the site. Check out the detailed evaluation forms and suggested questions to help you choose a gym, a personal trainer or doctor. Or test your nutritional knowledge. Example: Which meat has the least fat: extra lean ground beef, ground turkey breast or ground chicken? Answer: the beef.
HEY! also lets visitors ask health professionals questions via e-mail and submit their own health-related articles.
The site's cheesiest feature is HEY! Models, a page showcasing and allowing visitors to rate aspiring and scantily clad fitness models (all women). Despite its tenuous connection to fitness, the model page is supposedly one of most popular features on the site.
Overall, this fitness site is lean on graphics but the editors promise to work on that and add new features including a Spanish-language version in the near future.
Strong enough for a man but made for a woman
WE, or Women's Edge, is a weekly e-zine from Prevention Magazine that provides fitness and nutrition information for women, but men will find plenty for good information here as well.
Among WE's most interesting features is The Bonfire of the Calories. Plug in a particular activity (running, skating, gardening, etc.), your weight and the amount of time you plan to do the exercise, and voila: you get a count of the calories you'll burn. FYI: a 140-pound man would burn off 255 calories by polka dancing for a half hour.
The calorie count also includes a conversion chart telling you the equivalent calories in particular servings of food. In the example above, 255 calories is equivalent to a half cup of Haagen-Daz vanilla ice cream or a hot dog.
WE was the only health site we visited that purports to have health benefits of its own. The editors claim users can work off 96 calories per hour by surfing the site. Beats polka dancing.
For kicks, visit a feature called Mood Ring. Answer a series of questions related to your stress level and get a read on your mood. A red stone is very stressed and blue stone is calm, with various shades in between.
Apart from the silliness, there is a great deal of useful health advice here, with articles on everything from what to do if your PAP smear test comes back "abnormal" to the health benefits of fennel.
E-zine for fitness buffs
Balance is an online health and fitness magazine that just celebrated its second anniversary, claims to be the first of its type on the Net. Issues are organized around a single theme and published on the 14th of each month.
Venerable publication or not, the site could use a little more editing. Misspellings and grammatical mistakes are common throughout, but this is a site for jocks, not English professors, right?
Also, some of the articles are not entirely objective. An article on hair transplants in the November issue reads like an infomercial for the Hair Club for Men.
On the positive side, Balance has been redesigned, with an
attractive layout that is easy to navigate. All back issues are also accessible.
Informative articles in the latest issue include a list of 12 exercises that can do more harm than good and a personal essay from a woman training for the London Marathon.
Fitness for body, mind and soul
If it's a holistic approach to health you're looking for, try
Fitness Matters, a forum of Life Matters health site. Here you'll find information on T'ai Chi, biofeedback, homeopathy and yoga, among other topics.
In the Ask the Fitness Trainer section, personal trainer and weight management consultant Jack Dixon answers visitors' questions on topics as diverse as how to train with weights and the virtues of pasta. No question, it would seem, is too trivial to answer.
Question: Jack, what do you know about olives? Do they have fat? Are they considered a vegetable? Are they healthy?
Answer: Yes, they are a PLANT food, they do have some nutritional benefits. They are almost pure fat, and should be considered a rich food, used seldom. Good luck, Jack
One drawback -- parts of Fitness Matters read like an advertisement for the McDougall Program, a vegetarian nutrition plan developed by John and Mary McDougall who are connected to the Life Matters site.
Part of the larger, health-related Pathfinder* site,
Thrive@shape contains' several magazines' worth of sound fitness and nutrition advice.
Samples of articles include: "Eight Essential Exercises for Weight Training Newbies," "Winning at the Losing Game" and "How to Become a Fitness Instructor."
Other parts of the Thrive site deal with cooking and nutrition, alternative medicine, men's health and new drug therapies.
Thrive@Shape also offers an interesting array of interactive tests and quizzes. The Fitness Planner helps you develop and maintain an exercise program. Plug in your preferred exercise, age, weight, height and exercise schedule, and the computer does the rest, coming up with a weekly workout plan. The planner also helps you track the progress of your regime. Sorry, You'll have to do the exercise yourself.
And lest we take our bodies too seriously, Thrive also has a sense of humor. A feature dubbed "Is your dog fat?" is actually a tongue in cheek quiz on the eating habits of humans with questions like: When was the last time you ate broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage or a Brussels sprout? a) yesterday b) last month or c) grade school.
* Pathfinder is a project of Time Warner, the parent company of CNN Interactive.
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