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Health Intervention: Four Moves to Transform Your Body

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If you're ready to get moving, but don't know where to start, follow these four easy moves from celebrity fitness trainer Kacy Duke. For a fitness novice, the gym can be an intimidating place, and the idea of committing to a 45-minute workout DVD can seem overwhelming. When ESSENCE planned a health intervention for a hypertensive reader, Kizzie Ruth Branch, who only walked once a week for exercise, our fitness guru Kacy Duke took all of this into consideration. Her plan? Get our reader -- and you -- going with four basic, strength-training moves... Why strength training? It's not just to strengthen your heart. "We need weight-bearing exercises to grow old gracefully," explains Duke, author of "The Show It Love Workout" (McGraw-Hill). "Not only do they create beautiful, sinewy lines, but they also helps you burn more calories to get thinner faster." Kacy advised Branch to work with light weights, 3 to 8 pounds each. "With hypertension, you don't want to do any exercises that over-task your body," explains Duke. And remember, you're never too far gone and it's never too late to start. "Even in your 90s you can see results!" says Duke. Start with these 3 to 4 times a week. Move #1: Beginner's Back Lunge Stand behind a chair, holding its back for balance if you need to. Raise your right knee up to a 90 degree angle, then lower right leg into a back lunge resting just on the ball of that foot. Repeat in a smooth, controlled motion, then switch legs. "This move works your lower body to elongate your legs," says Duke. Do: 12 reps on each leg. Move #2: Easy Tricep Kickback Hold hand weights and place your elbows at your waist-line and arms at a 45-degree angle. Push the weights straight out in front of you. Then pull back to starting position and then extend your forearms behind you. Do: 12 reps. Move #3: Basic Crunch Lie on your back with your fingertips lightly touching the back of your head, knees bent and feet on the floor. In a slow and controlled motion, contract your abdominal muscles to lift your head and shoulders off the floor. Return to start and repeat. "People don't realize that if your lower back is bothering you, it's because your stomach muscles are weak," explains Duke. "Crunches help strengthen your core and your back. If you can only do five, fine. But do six tomorrow." Do: 12 reps. Move #4. Starter's Side Bend Stand with feet shoulder-width apart holding a dowel rod over your head. Keep your back straight and don't let your body twist into another plane as you engage your core and slowly bend to your left. Return to start and then bend to the right. Do: 12 reps on each side. Check out the January 2011 issue of ESSENCE for more advice from Kacy Duke, including how to pull off the perfect calorie-burning power walk.
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