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posted: 12/17/2012 5:00 AM

Your health: Shape up with DVDs

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  • At-home workouts with a good DVD can be just has successful as classes at the gym.

    At-home workouts with a good DVD can be just has successful as classes at the gym.

  • Rather than salt, try other options like spices to liven up your food.

    Rather than salt, try other options like spices to liven up your food.


Press 'play' to get fit

"For a hot body, push Play," advises the December issue of Shape magazine.

While getting fit isn't quite that easy, the magazine test-drove popular exercise DVDs to help readers make the most of at-home sweat sessions, says The Washington Post.

Editorial staffers reviewed the DVDs and chose the top six, which they deemed "unique, efficient and easy to follow," and with motivating instructors.

The standouts, according to Shape: "Denise Austin's Shrink Belly Fat," "SparkPeople: Total Body Sculpting," "Cathe Friedrich's Cross Fire," "Exhale Core Fusion 30 Day Sculpt," "Addicted to Sweat 4" and "Fuse Dance Cardio Melt." The DVDs include elements of plyometrics, barre, weight training, Pilates and dance, and range from slow-paced to high-energy.

Not ready to commit to just one? The magazine's December issue contains a compilation of favorite moves from each DVD -- such as 180-degree jumps and rotating lunge presses -- to create a unique exercise circuit.

5 ways to use less salt

Salt is essential to the body. The sodium in salt helps transmit nerve impulses and contract muscle fibers. Working with potassium, it balances fluid levels in the body. But you only need a tiny amount of salt to do this, less than one-tenth of a teaspoon. The average American gets nearly 20 times that much, according to Harvard Medical School.

Most of the salt that Americans consume comes from prepared and processed foods. But enough comes from the salt shaker that it's worth finding alternatives. Here are five ways to cut back on sodium when cooking or at the table:

• Use spices and other flavor enhancers: Add flavor to your favorite dishes with spices, dried and fresh herbs, roots (such as garlic and ginger), citrus, vinegars and wine.

• Go nuts for healthy fats in the kitchen: Using the right healthy fats -- from roasted nuts and avocados to olive, canola, soybean and other oils -- can add a rich flavor.

• Sear, sauté and roast: Searing and sautéing foods in a pan builds flavor. Roasting brings out the natural sweetness of many vegetables and the taste of fish and chicken.

• Get your whole grains from sources other than bread: Even whole-grain bread, while a healthier choice than white, can contain considerable sodium. And bread contains salt, not just for flavor but to ensure that the dough rises properly.

• Know your seasons, and, even better, your local farmer:Shop for raw ingredients with maximum natural flavor. Shop for peak-of-season produce from farmers' markets and your local supermarket.

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