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Smells Like Team Spirit

To get in great shape, you can work out harder or, sometimes, just smarter. A few clever techniques can help people get more out of their workouts and see better results more quickly, fitness experts say. Those methods also reduce the risk of injuries and make the sometimes gruelling process of getting, or staying, in shape more enjoyable.

Whether the workout is cardiovascular, strength-based, mind-body or team-related, fitness professionals are increasingly identifying ways to ensure maximum return from physical effort. Some people love a crowd, especially if it's on a playing field. For them, exercising solo takes a back seat to team sports, where competition and camaraderie join up for an intense experience.

A vigorous basketball game can send the heart thumping for a couple of hours - and enhance fitness through moves that build balance and core strength. But choose a league or team that fits, one that makes you want to play. Make sure it's the right crowd - age, ability and fitness-wise. The result will mean more people get a turn with the ball and fewer get hurt.

Players also should maintain a good fitness level all year long, not just during the playing season. Off-season workouts should consist of a basic regimen of cardio, strength training and stretching. Add sports-specific routines closer to the season- sprints for football, for example, or plyometrics for basketball. Those regular workouts should be kept up during the season, too.

Before a game, do warm-ups such as stretches. Going in cold takes longer to reach peak performance levels and may lead to injury. Even bench warmers can stay in a game-ready state by walking around, jogging, doing mild calisthenics and stretching. The light activity will keep them in a state of readiness - and bum more calories, too.

Why Weight Management Is Harder?

Fat Genes

Many Asians have a genetic makeup that is adapted to food scarcity. The very characteristics that saved us during famines are now slowly killing us in our new affluent environment. You can't choose your parents but you can choose your lifestyle. Go natural in your choice of food and get more active to keep your BMI between 18 and 23.

You Gain What You Earn

Socioeconomic factors affect what you eat. Obesity is seen more among the working class because cheap food is usually high in calories and fat. There is also less of an exercise culture among those of us who spend most of their time just surviving financially. Exercise regularly and cut down on oily foods.

Diets Do Work

Diets like Atkins, Cambridge and South Beach are really very effective. The problem is sticking with them. Most people cannot lose more than 10 per cent of their excess weight by dieting alone and many find it impossible to maintain. Try hypnosis and acupuncture to help you stick to your diet.

No More Workout Excuses!

You've let your gym membership expire again? Dropped tennis after just four lessons? Sustaining a workout as much harder than starting one, but you can keep your exercise mojo going with better planning. 

"I Have No Time To Spare"

It's not so much the workout time that you can't afford (it's a mere 30 minutes for a hearty session), but the overall time needed for preparations, showering, and travelling to and from. Input these considerations the next time you sign up for a class. Set aside specific times for working out just like you do for weekly office meetings or drinks and movie with your gal pals.

"I'm Too Tired To Drag Myself For A Run"

Force yourself! You'll be surprised at how revitalised you'd feel after. Identify which part of the day you feel most energised. If it's morning, wake up early for a jog. If it's afternoon, hit the nearby gym for a treadmill run and just pack lunch. Make sure you don't go-hungry while working out and that you don't hit the gym immediately after a meal - your energy level will go down faster than the Titanic.

"I Feel Uncomfortable After My Routine"

Discomfort is different from pain. Stop immediately if you experience acute pain, but if you're simply aching or feeling sore, it probably means your muscles are being stretched, which is a good thing! Always warm up and cool down. If you're a beginner, start off slowly before gradually increasing in intensity, resistance and duration. Give your body time to adjust.

Who says you need pricey golf clubs or a prestigious gym membership? If you want to get in shape, all you really need is decent sport shoes that won't cost alot. Entry to your nearest stadium is free, and use of the pool is a cheap.

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