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Get healthy online for FREE

01 Nov 2011

By now most of us know that the internet can be used in pretty much every facet of life. From shopping and socializing to education and work – we use the internet every day to accomplish our goals. One area that you might not think of as going hand in hand with the internet and technology is health and fitness, but that has been rapidly changing over the last few years as we see more and more fitness blogs, healthy recipe sites, medical Q&A forums and fitness oriented game consoles (like Wii Fit and Kinect) popping up all over the place. So if you thought you couldn’t improve your health and overall wellbeing while staring at a screen, think again! We’ve scoured the web to bring you the best health related sites, blogs, videos and gadgets available – just in time for summer.A lot of the time, when we think about whipping ourselves into shape, we don’t know where to begin. The thought of showing up at a gym and wandering around from machine to daunting machine can be scary and overwhelming. Not to mention, spending an hour running in place on a treadmill or lifting weights amongst a bunch of gym buffs might not be your idea of a good time (not that there is anything wrong with this if it is!) But today, there are so many options available that let us get in shape in more fun ways, at our own pace and – best of all – in the comfort of our own homes, all thanks to technology and internet. The internet has also provided us with countless inspirational blogs and websites chock-full of tips and advice and even instructional videos and articles on how to conquer those difficult gym machines or trouble areas. Below we have rounded up some of the best fitness sites out there.Fitness.comThis is a well rounded website that will provide you with pretty much everything you need to know when it comes to fitness. Dubbed ‘the global fitness community’, Fitness.com is available in eight languages and offers everything from BMI (Body Mass Index) and BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) calculators to specific forums for discussion such as the bodybuilding forum or the weight loss forum, recipes and exercises. You can’t go wrong!www.fitness.comZen to FitnessZen to Fitness is an online magazine supplying free weekly articles on Health and Fitness that can be read in under five minutes. The focus is quality design and content and the site is ad-free. The editor takes a "Zen” like approach to health and fitness and writes on a number of topics including how to eliminate stress from your life.www.zentofitness.comGym JunkiesThis one is for those people who actually do love the gym. Vic Magary got started with martial arts training, which ignited his passion for fitness and exercise. One day he decided to quit his day job as a lawyer and reinvented himself as a fitness guru, opening his own martial arts and fitness gym in the United States in 2002. He has been a full time trainer and martial arts instructor ever since and is now sharing his knowledge and experience with fans of his site "gymjunkies.com.” Magary offers loads of free tips and training advice, makes videos demonstrating how to use various machines at the gym (including downloadable iPod videos you can take with you!), a workout manual, super useful and interesting articles such as ‘the top 10 fitness myths’ and ‘the beginners workout’, or you can pay to join his personal coaching forum. www.gymjunkies.comBody PositiveThis awesome website written by a fitness instructor and psychologist focuses on loving your body, no matter what shape or size, while striving to live a healthy, fit and balanced lifestyle. The idea behind the site is to define healthy weight not by a generic height/weight chart or even arbitrary Body Mass Index cut-offs, but rather as the weight your body is when you are living a reasonable lifestyle.  It is the weight at which your unique body seems to "settle” when you are not obsessing about food and exercise.  The site promotes celebrations like "Love Your Body Day” and identifies the red flags in many of the fad diets out there. The site is informed, educational and we love the healthy and positive outlook!www.bodypositive.comDance Meets FitnessThis blog is written by dance and fitness instructor Patty Rose, who combines – you guessed it –dance and fitness for a more fun and inspired way of working out. Patty has been a professional dancer her entire life and is a renowned instructor of both dance and fitness in New York City. She has published several e-books including ‘The 5 Point Posture Check’ and produced a DVD series called ‘Dance Strong!’ Holding certifications with Dance Educators of America (DEA), the Aerobic and Fitness Association of America (AFAA), a B.A in Dance from Hofstra University and a Zumba Fitness certification, we think it’s safe to say that Patty knows her stuff! On her blog you can find videos, product reviews, an "anywhere workout” series and much more. So if you like to bust a move, this is the site for you! You can also check out Patty’s home site at pattyrose.comwww.dancemeetsfitness.comCrossFitCrossFit is the principal strength and conditioning program for many police academies and tactical operations teams, military special operations units, champion martial artists and hundreds of other elite and professional athletes worldwide. The main page at crossfit.com has a daily workout, along with comments posted by crossfitters from all over the world. The workouts are tough, but if you’re up for a challenge give it a try! The site also boasts an extensive FAQ section and online store. www.crossfit.comRunner’s WorldIf you love to get outdoors and pound the pavement for your workout, you definitely need to check out this site. Runner’s World provides top notch information and advice for runners of all ages and abilities. On this site you can find training programs, shoes and gear, injury prevention advice, runners’ stories, trail running and tons more. You can even use the ‘Race Finder’ to search for events of all different distances near you.www.runnersworld.comFitDayFitDay is a free online diet and weight loss journal. If you’re a bit of a number cruncher and like to keep on top of your progress in great detail then we highly recommend you sign up for a free account. You can keep tabs on your food intake, workouts, weight loss and fitness goals.www.fitday.comThey say it’s 20% what you do (exercise) and 80% what you eat, so we’ve also found you the best sites on the web dedicated to diet and nutrition. It’s not all about calorie counting, protein blasting and low carbs – there are lots of awesome, healthy and balanced choices out there too, and thanks to the world wide web it’s never been easier to access them. The internet has also made dieting much more restaurant friendly, because we can now look up menus and even calculate weightwatchers points or calories before heading out. Hungry GirlThis has got to be my absolute favourite nutritional site out there. If you love restaurant food but hate the high calories, we have found the perfect solution for you. Hungrygirl.com is a website for those who want to eat sensibly without compromising taste or sacrificing their favourite fat and calorie-laden favourites. Lisa Lillien (aka Hungry Girl) is a New York Times bestselling author and the creator of the Hungry Girl brand.  She considers herself a "foodologist” because, in her own words, she is "obsessed with food –– how wonderful it is, and how much of it I can eat and still fit into my pants.” The HungryGirl website takes your favourite generic restaurant meals (like pizza, macaroni and cheese and fudge brownie cake) and even some recipes based on specific menu items at popular restaurants, and transforms them into an equally delicious but much healthier version of themselves. The recipes are quick, easy and provide full nutritional information including calories per serving, fat content and weightwatchers points. You can browse the website for recipe ideas, nutrition tips and advice, polls and reviews and even "survival strategies for the weekend.” Those who cook on a regular basis can also subscribe (for free!) to receive daily "recipe of the day” emails from Lillien herself.www.hungrygirl.comWeight LadderWeight Ladder is a blog specifically written for people pursuing weight loss. The site is packed with quality content to help you along your weight loss path and also offers a weight loss store where you can buy discounted products online, such as cookbooks, Nutrisystem meals, WeightWatchers calculators, diet pills (though we don’t recommend these at all!) scales, protein powder, videos and more.  www.weightladder.comLose It!This is a great tool for anyone trying to shed weight. The site lets you easily keep track of what you are eating versus what you are burning off through exercise, so it provides you with tools to help you better balance your intake and output. You have to sign up for an account, but it only takes a few moments and it’s free!www.loseit.comNutritionDataNutritionData is the best online resource for finding the complete nutritional profile of virtually any food you can think of. Not only will it give you all the standard macro and micronutrient breakdowns, it also gives you other unique data such as the Completeness Score, Fullness Factor, Amino Acid Score, Glycemic Load and Inflammation Factor. It also breaks down the macronutrients – that’s your carbs, protein and fats – into staggering detail. This is great not only for health nuts, but also for anyone who might have an allergy or food intolerance.www.nutritiondata.self.comRealAgeThis site is full of useful information about good food to eat and how to keep your body healthy and in peak performance. You enter information about yourself and it tells you what your "real age” is.  In other words, if you work out, eat well, don’t smoke, take supplements, etc. your real age can be lower than your chronological age and vice versa.  You can sign up to receive regular emails with all kinds of healthy living tips or just browse the site for things like the ‘Tip of the Day’ and ‘Health A to Z’.www.realage.comMark’s Daily AppleMark Sisson is the owner of ‘Primal Nutrition’ and author of ‘The Primal Blueprint’, whose mission is to "empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness.” The site focuses mainly on living a life like our ancestors did by eating real, organic food; running, playing and lifting heavy things; and getting lots of sleep. It’s extremely effective and sounds simple right? But in this day and age it’s tougher than you might think!www.marksdailyapple.comSize ExchangeThis is a website we featured in our "Useful Sites” section a few months ago, but we had to bring it back for this story! SizeXchange.com is a website dedicated to people (whether it be families with growing children or dieters looking to lose a substantial amount of weight) who want to save money on clothes that they know will only fit them for a short period of time. Think about it –if you are on a successful weight loss path, you will be throwing away a significant amount of money buying a new wardrobe every year or even every few months. SizeXchange "provides those who are transitioning through sizes with stylish, affordable clothing at all stages of their transition through points-based and cash auctions.” It also serves as a place where those on a diet can connect with others in the same boat and offers everything from expert advice, competitions, blogs and useful weight loss and lifestyle resources.  www.sizeXchange.comDarin’s NaturalsThis awesome and extremely educational website has successfully sourced over 300 unique, sustainable herbs and superfoods throughout the world. Darin’s Naturals has been formulating and consulting for many private companies and professionals and will definitely teach you a thing or two about what you’re putting into your body. www.darinsnaturals.comWeightWatchersWeightWatchers is a globally renowned weight loss system that really works and does so without unreasonable (and unsafe) diet restrictions. The program works on a points system and to get the best experience you should sign up to attend meetings and take full advantage of all the great resources. There is a cost, but I personally know quite a few people who have done the program and had tremendous success, so the small price is definitely worth the gain (or should I say loss!) When you register, you can either sign up for the in person meetings or you can do WeightWatchers entirely online. Their motto is "stop dieting, start living” and focuses on changing your entire lifestyle, not crash dieting. Even if you choose not to register, you can still check out the website for plenty of valuable tips and information, read success stories for inspiration or learn more about the program.www.weightwatchers.co.nzFinally, last (but certainly not least!); we have a roundup of the best medical sites. Whether you have a specific illness or condition or would just like some general health information from a credible source, we’ve found a range of sites that will be sure to cater to any need – broad or specific. Of course it’s still best to pay regular visits to your doctor for any real concerns or ongoing issues, but the internet might save you a few trips (and some cash!) by answering those preliminary questions and putting your mind at ease. WebMDThis site is probably the best all around online health resource we found. You can find everything from information on the everyday cold or flu and more serious diseases and conditions, like osteoporosis, asthma, heart disease, diabetes and sleep disorders, to pet health, drugs and supplements, pregnancy and fitness and nutrition. If you have a health query, WebMD will have the answer!www.webmd.comSupplementWatchThis site focuses on the millions of supplements out there today – what they are, what they do, which ones you should be taking and all of the side effects. It also features regular articles with useful health and aging information like "Power Foods for Longevity.”www.supplementwatch.comLiveStrongLiveStrong is professional cyclist Lance Armstrong’s website and is dedicated to being the most valued online source of inspiring, relevant and useful health-related information. It combines the best in health, fitness and lifestyle content with the belief that "everyone has the power to make their life better and give 100 percent to achieve everyday victories to help themselves and then help others.” The site also has a fitness section and an inspiration section complete with success stories and the story of the LiveStrong Foundation, which fights to improve the lives of people affected by cancer.www.livestrong.comwww.livestrong.orgTHE 10 BEST FOODS YOU AREN’T EATINGThis is an article published on the ABC News website that lists some of the healthiest foods out there that many people aren’t eating, but should be! Most of these are foods we would never think of as being super foods (like guava or beets) or food at all (like purslane weed), but the article, written by a doctor, explains why these foods are amazing for your health and how you should eat them. tinyurl.com/3lqkonMedlinePlusHealth topics, references, sports fitness and nutrition, videos and cool tools – find it all here.tinyurl.com/medline-siteSOMETHING FISHYThis website is dedicated to raising awareness and providing support to people with eating disorders and their loved-ones.www.something-fishy.orgAmerican Heart AssociationThere are few things more important to protect than your heart! The American Heart Association provides some really valuable information on cholesterol, heart disease and stroke, prevention and treatment, eating right and much more. Young or old, it’s definitely worth a visit!www.heart.orgTHE P90X PROGRAMThis one is not for the fainthearted! P90X, or Power 90 Extreme, is a home exercise system developed by Tony Horton in conjunction with Beachbody CEO Carl Daikeler, Beachbody Fitness Advisor Steve Edwards, nutritionist Carrie Wyatt, Creative Director Ned Farr, and workout video director Mason Bendewald of MEGA MACE productions. It claims to significantly improve physical fitness in 90 days through a rigorous segmented training program combined with a nutrition and dietary supplement plan. P90X emphasizes "muscle confusion”, a method of cross-training and periodization achieved through switching the order of exercises and incorporating new and varied movements. Muscle confusion prevents the body from adapting to exercises over time, resulting in continual improvement without plateaus. You can purchase all necessary videos and equipment, as well as read free tips and advice from Tony himself, on the website.www.extremebodyworkout.comNIKE + IPOD SPORT KITUsing an iPod nano, iPod touch, iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4, a pair of Nike + shoes and this sport kit, you can maximize your workouts. Just put the sensor in your Nike + shoe – there’s a built-in pocket specifically designed for it under the insole – then connect the receiver to your iPod nano (iPod touch, iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 don’t require the receiver as they include built-in support for the Nike + iPod sport kit) and away you go! The sensor tracks your run and then sends the data to your iPod or iPhone. www.apple.com/ipod/nikeWII FITWii Fit (for anyone who doesn’t already know) is a video game developed by Nintendo for the company’s home video game console, Wii. It’s basically an exercise game consisting of activities using the Wii Balance Board peripheral. The player stands on this peripheral during the game, which features yoga, strength training, aerobics and balance games. Wii Fit has been used for everything from getting kids up off the coach, to physiotherapy rehabilitation, to posture improvement at nursing homes. wiifit.comJILLIAN MICHAELSAnyone who watches ‘The Biggest Loser’ will be familiar with (and probably shudder at the thought of) Jillian Michaels. That’s because she is extremely tough, but her workouts are extremely effective. I can speak from experience, as someone who owns and regularly uses all of her home workout DVDs, you will absolutely get results – but be prepared to work your butt off! I particularly appreciate Jillian’s DVDs because firstly, they are much tougher than any other home workout video I have ever encountered (and I love a challenge!) and secondly, all you need to do them is a pair of small hand weights and a mat. Her website also offers weekly podcasts and a free weight loss plan.www.jillianmichaels.comKINECTKinect is a new controller-free gaming system for Xbox 360. The gameplay is based on body movements, either with or without props, and voice commands.  All of the games configured for Kinect scan your body in order to have a baseline upon which to understand your movements in front of the cameras. There are two categories of fitness games configured for Kinect: Kinect workout and Kinect sports. The games include "The Biggest Loser Ultimate Workout”, "Zumba Fitness”, "Motion Sports” and "Dance Central”, to name a few. This is probably one of the best ways to get fit at home, and you’ll have a blast while doing it!www.kinectyourself.com/kinect-fitness-gamesOREGON SCIENTIFIC ANYWEAR 3D PEDOMETER The AnyWear pedometer, as its name implies, comes designed for use anywhere, whether you want to connect it to your shoe, toss it in your backpack or wear it on your pants waistband. In Health Magazine’s list of its editors’ favourite pedometers, the magazine praises the AnyWear device’s small design factor, as well as additional features like its alarm and a 24-hour digital display clock. Other perks include a large memory chip that stores up to a week’s worth of walking data, plus a display that estimates how many calories you’ve burned based on your height, weight and the number of steps you took.tinyurl.com/anywear-ped