The road to fitness

Most of the established running shoe manufacturers make footwear that helps prolong endurance and prevent injuries. More than 90 percent of running shoes are now bought by people who are not serious runners but want to look fit. Taking advantage of the potential market, many new shoe makers have entered the field although they don’t have the foggiest idea how to produce shoes that are good for runners. They simply make good-looking junk.

When you run, your heels hits the ground with tremendous force. Your foot strikes the ground on the outside bottom and rolls inward, twisting the lower leg inward, too. The combined force and inward rolling can cause a wide range of injuries, from shin splints to runner’s knee. Therefore the best running shoes are made with features that reduce the force of the foot strike and inward rolling motion. Bad running shoes don’t have these safeguards.

Training tubes (also called resistance bands) are a great way to strengthen and tone the major muscle groups in arms, legs and back. The elastic tubing can be used at home or easily packed for trips. The bands come in different widths and tension levels. Rubbery and resilient, they come in enough styles and strengths to challenge anybody from the beginner to the strength-savvy veteran. But unless you combine them with anatomy-altering chemicals, forget those Mr. and Ms. Universe contests.

If you don’t have a carpeted area in your home, spring for an exercise mat. A roll-up mat, especially a nice padded one with a nonskid side, is a must if you have vinyl, tile or hardwood floors.

If you plan to combine several sports or activities in your fat-burning workouts, choose a multipurpose athletic shoe, such as a cross-trainer. You can easily buy running shoes and resistance bands online.

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