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If I could offer you only one tip for the future,
sunscreen would be it . . .

Mary Schmich

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Have Fun in the Sun without Becoming Well Done

By Omar Shamout

While it's easy to ignore advice like that in the quote above, it's a message that actually holds quite a bit of truth. Cancer is a disease we generally do everything we can to prevent, but it's hard not to wonder exactly how much of an effect our efforts have in the face of its underlying causes. Fortunately, when it comes to skin cancer—the most common form of human cancer—the causes (particularly sun exposure) are often easier to see, and the preventive treatments (including sunscreen) are often easier to undertake. Just a few simple precautions every day can help you protect yourself from this disease and its debilitating effects. Unfortunately, the market for sun care products is cluttered and confusing, so let's look at some information that might help ensure that your aerobic adventures in the sunshine aren't hurting your skin while they're helping your heart and muscles.

Woman in a Bathing Suit

Why is UV radiation so bad?

By now, virtually everyone knows about the dangers of skin cancer, but with more than 1.3 million cases reported in the United States last year alone, it seems that people just don't think they spend enough time in the sun for it to affect them. In addition to cancer, ultraviolet (UV) radiation can cause cosmetic damage, including wrinkles and age spots, and can worsen conditions like lupus. Sunglasses that block at least 99.5 percent of UVA and UVB rays are also crucial to avoid the damage the sun can cause to your eyes, which in some cases can lead to blindness. People who take certain drugs, such as antibiotics, antidepressants, diuretics, and retinoids, are at risk for being particularly sensitive to sun damage.

UVA (long-wave ultraviolet) rays make up 95 percent of the radiation that penetrates the Earth's atmosphere and are primarily responsible for the darkening of the skin commonly referred to as tanning. UVB (short-wave ultraviolet) rays are less plentiful, but damaging to our skin nonetheless. UVB rays are mostly blocked out in winter months, and on colder, more overcast days, but UVA rays are prevalent year-round. The key thing to remember is that both types of rays are dangerous, and can lead to melanoma. And summer isn't the only time of year you need to protect yourself!

What is SPF?

SPF stands for sun protection factor. Here's a quote from the Skin Cancer Foundation1 to help you understand the term and its use:

Sunscreen Bottle"It takes 20 minutes for your unprotected skin to start turning red. Using an SPF 15 sunscreen theoretically prevents reddening 15 times longer—about 5 hours. Another way to look at it is in terms of percentages: SPF 15 blocks approximately 93 percent of all incoming UVB rays. SPF 30 blocks 97 percent, and SPF 50 blocks 98 percent."

At least one ounce (two tablespoons) of lotion is needed to be applied to the entire body surface. Just remember—don't skimp, and frequent reapplication is crucial. Water, sweat, and friction can all cause sunscreen to wear off more quickly than the time stated on the package, so it's essential that you don't go longer than 2 hours without reapplying sunscreen to your skin. Knowing your own skin type is an important element in determining how long you should be in the sun, what type of sunscreen you should apply, and how often you should reapply it.

There are also salons with tanning beds and booths, but if you choose to go that route, know that you're being bombarded with UVA rays 12 times more powerful than those emitted by the sun. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, tanning salon patrons are two-and-a-half times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and one-and-a-half times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma. The SCF also notes that exposure to tanning beds during one's youth increases melanoma risk by 75 percent.

Don't I need the vitamin D from sunshine?

Core Cal-Mag™Vitamin D is an important nutrient that helps your immune system, muscles, and bones stay healthy and strong. However, the sun is not the only source of vitamin D, and about 10 minutes in the sun at midday is enough exposure for most Caucasians to get all the vitamin D they need. (Darker-skinned people can require two to six times as much sun to get the same amount of vitamin D.) If you have questions or concerns about how much sun is good for your skin, consult your doctor or dermatologist. Calcium-rich dairy products are typically rich in vitamin D, as are oily fish like salmon, trout, and fresh tuna. Beachbody's Core Cal-Mag™ supplements are also a good way to boost your intake of vitamin D, as well as helping to build stronger bones and a stronger immune system.

What other precautions can I take?

A 2009 study by the Environmental Working Group2 concluded, "Sunscreen can only provide partial protection against harmful effects of the sun. Limiting sun exposure and wearing protective clothing are even more important when it comes to protecting against skin cancer and premature skin aging." But before you start jogging in your winter parka, keep in mind that many clothing companies have sprung up in recent years in response to increased consumer demand for UV protection. Just remember to apply sunscreen to your uncovered parts.

It's easy to overlook everyday dangers like sun exposure, but it's important to remember to use sunblock and wear protective clothing whenever you're going to be in the sun for prolonged periods. Closely monitor how much time you spend in the sun and make sure you reapply sunblock often, especially after swimming or sweating it off. Following these relatively simple precautions can go a long way toward keeping you safe from the dangers of the sun.

For more information about the data and studies mentioned above, visit:

  • 1The Skin Cancer Foundation: http://skincancerfoundation.org
  • 2The Environmental Working Group: http://www.ewg.org/

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Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with the overseer of Beachbody's fitness and diet development, who also serves as your Fitness Advisor on the Message Boards, Steve Edwards, on Monday, July 19th, at 3:00 PM ET, 12:00 PM PT. Go to the Beachbody Chat Room.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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Say No to Injuries
Anna Eriksson—Results and Recovery Formula™
"I felt 1,000% better!"
—Anna Eriksson
Beachbody® Director of Product Development

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10 Ways to Avoid Injury When Resistance Training

By Stephanie S. Saunders

You may have noticed at your local gym that weight lifting is becoming tres a la mode among the spandex and sweatband set. Unfortunately, this upswing in resistance training also means an upswing in injuries. An article in the New York Times1 recently reviewed a study of weight lifting injuries over an 18-year period, which showed there were almost one million Americans who visited an emergency room, injured, as the result of weight lifting. Ninety percent of those injuries were attributed to free weights. While women were more likely to drop the weights, resulting in fractures, men were more apt to create strains or sprains. Either way, as fantastic as it is that people are realizing how much they can alter their bodies with a couple of dumbbells, it makes you feel like a dumbbell when you drop one on your foot.

Man with an Injured Neck

So let's look at 10 ways to avoid upping your insurance premium while still obtaining the physique of your dreams:

  1. Warm up. Yes, you've heard "warm up before exercising" since junior-high PE class, although most of us looked at it as a way for lazy instructors to burn up class time. But are we really aware of the benefits of warming up before resistance training? Increased muscle and body temperature reduces the risk of strains and sprains, and also allows the muscle to contract more forcefully. Warming up creates less overall stress on the heart and activates your body's natural cooling system, a.k.a. sweat, to prevent overheating. Warming up creates greater range of motion around a joint and helps us get mentally prepared for the task at hand. So take 5 minutes, jump on a treadmill, and give your muscles a chance to wake up.
  2. Use your thumbs. What gives us greater dexterity than most animals on the planet? Yes, it's our opposable thumbs. And yet, a great number of people do not include this strongest of digits in their weight lifting routines. It's similar to the way the British upper class sips their tea, only no one needs their pinky to stabilize a teacup. Without your thumb, your fingers cannot create a complete circle, which in turn means a dumbbell could go flying. So stop trying to look pristine and actually grip the weight with all five digits.
  3. A Spotter Helping a Woman Lift WeightsGet by with a little help from your friend. Asking for help in the gym, or even from someone you live with, is often as painful as asking for directions on a road trip. Yes, you want to appear like the superman or superwoman who's strong enough to handle it alone, but sometimes a spotter can make all the difference between success and a squished pinky toe. They don't need to spend all day with you, and in fact, you can politely thank them and offer to return the favor if needed, while simultaneously walking away. But asking for 30 seconds of their time could save you a lot more time in an emergency room.
  4. Record your progress. If you've done P90X®, Tony has drilled into your head the importance of recording your weights and repetitions, every time you work out. This is extremely important not only to create consistent change in your physique, but also as a safety measure to keep you from overdoing it. Since most of us cannot remember our mother's phone number, how do we expect to recall every single weight of dumbbell we used over the last several days, weeks, or months? And if we aren't sure where we left off, how are we to know where we are going? It's pretty common for someone to confuse the number, try to go too heavy, and end up knocking themselves in the head with a dumbbell. (At least I would like to think it common, since I once gave myself a concussion.) Start where you left off, and make small increases according to your workout plan.
  5. Bowflex® SelectTech® DumbbellsHave lighter weights/bands available. Yes, you can use those 20-pound dumbbells for bicep curls, and yes, you can get through 6 repetitions very effectively. But as your form starts to fail, an injury is more likely to occur. So, as opposed to throwing in the towel and watching that TurboFire® video from your couch like it's an episode of One Life to Live, have lighter weights or resistance bands available to continue your set. Or consider investing in dialing weights like the Bowflex® SelectTech® Dumbbells, where making the weight lighter or heavier is one click away. Whatever the case, do not assume that one pair of dumbbells is going to be enough to work your entire body safely.
  6. Consistently check your range of motion and momentum. It's really easy to go a little bit farther than we should, which can cause all kinds of problems. This is the original intention for mirrors lining the walls of gymnasiums. Yes, it was actually to check your form, and not just to stare at your big, beautiful biceps. But since most of us don't have mirrors lining our living rooms, make sure you are using the appropriate range of motion for every exercise you do. In other words, don't let your elbows go beneath you in a chest press, don't let your knees go out over your toes in a squat, and don't hyperextend your back in a lat pull. Should you be unaware of the proper range of motion for an exercise, ask for some assistance.
  7. Slow down, Turbo. Be slow and controlled about every movement. This is not an exercise in momentum. And although there are amazing cardiovascular benefits to weightlifting, it's not like you are trying to sprint around the track with a vampire bat chasing you. You can keep a good pace without letting momentum take over. Not only is it much safer, but much more beneficial to your overall progress.
  8. P90X® Chin-Up BarAccessorize appropriately. This isn't a suggestion to wear a rhinestone weight lifting belt—although that'd be kind of cool—but to use some basic innovations in resistance training equipment in order to stay safe. Weight lifting gloves can be an inexpensive and invaluable tool in helping maintain grip on free weights, barbells, and pull-up bars. Tony Horton's PowerStands® can take strain off wrists, forearms, and elbows when doing push-ups. The P90X Chin-Up Bar can change your grip to accommodate a more comfortable or versatile pull-up. Bowflex SelectTech dumbbells can take strain off your upper extremities and back by only requiring you to use one set of dumbbells to do everything, and not bending over to pick up 10 different sets. A plyometrics mat can take strain off your knees, ankles, and hips by creating extra cushion while jumping. And using a Beachbody Balance Ball or Squishy Ball to assist in core work can make your spine more comfortable, while working your abs. Using the right tools can sometimes make a huge difference in results—and safety.
  9. Assume the position. One of the most horrifying things to observe as a fitness professional is how people actually get into position with their dumbbells. Lying down to do a bench press and reaching down with your arm behind you to pick up 30 pounds is way too common—and dangerous. Or how about the diving forward, as if you were entering a pool, to pick up dumbbells for a set of squats? From my perspective, watching that is scarier than Friday the 13th falling on Halloween. So to avoid strains as the result of bad pick-ups, use the following rules:
    1. When picking up dumbbells for a standing exercise, try to start with them on a rack or chair at waist height. If they are already on the floor, pick them up one at a time, with bent knees, and put them someplace higher.
    2. When using dumbbells for a seated exercise, or lying-down exercise, put one on each knee to begin. As you lean back, lift each knee one at a time to help you get the weight into place.
    3. If you are using dumbbells for a prone or kneeling-on-one-knee exercise, make sure the weight is already within arm's reach and maintain a flat spine as you lift it up.
  10. Clean up after yourself. Not to sound like your nagging mother, but don't be a slob, even in your own home. Many injuries happen as the result of someone tripping over that weight or medicine ball someone left lying on the floor. As my mother used to say, it takes just as long to put it where it belongs as to throw it on the floor. We know this isn't really true, but if it keeps you from slamming into the ground, a couple extra seconds is worth it.

If you've spent any time with P90X or ChaLEAN Extreme®, you know the transformative power of resistance training. And with a bit of preparation and thoughtfulness, it can be an injury-free endeavor as well. Just remember that getting injured will derail your training faster than a visit to Hometown Buffet®. It's worth a little extra energy to avoid it.

  • 1Nicholas Bakalar, "Weight-Lifting Gains Bring Pains, Too." New York Times, June 14, 2010.

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Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with the overseer of Beachbody's fitness and diet development, who also serves as your Fitness Advisor on the Message Boards, Steve Edwards, on Monday, July 19th, at 3:00 PM ET, 12:00 PM PT. Go to the Beachbody Chat Room.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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Beautify Your Look with Accessories


From working out to going out, there's not always time to get properly done up, makeup and all. Check out these surprising tricks to spruce up your look and feel remarkably more beautiful in a flash. Click here for the full article.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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Test Your Muscle Beach IQ!

By Elizabeth Brion

Muscle BeachSummer's in full swing, and the thoughts of many fitness-minded people turn to working out on the beach. Sure, you could do dune sprints or that walking-backwards-in-the-sand thing—or you could hit Southern California's Muscle Beach and enjoy many of the amenities your gym has, except outside in the summer sun. Some consider Muscle Beach the birthplace of the fitness industry. Let's see how much you know about this legendary shrine to rippedness.

True or False?

  1. False: Muscle Beach has been a landmark on Venice Beach since the 1930s.The original Muscle Beach was opened in Santa Monica in 1934 as a WPA project, but the scene got to be a little out of control and local vendors were not pleased by all the free entertainment competing with their for-profit wares. The city closed it down in 1959, at which point the bodybuilding scene relocated to Venice, where apparently vendors are more chill. The Venice location was renovated rather lavishly in 1990 and now has a giant concrete dumbbell on the roof and bleachers to hold observers, along with extensive weight lifting facilities.
  2. False: The original Muscle Beach is now a parking lot. That was the intention, but it escaped that fate long enough for people to become nostalgic for it, and in 1989 it was rededicated as the original Muscle Beach. Today, it's a more family-friendly attraction, featuring plentiful gymnastics training equipment and a jungle gym for the smaller kids to work out on.
  3. True: Muscle Beach has been much loved by Hollywood celebrities as well as fitness legends.You'll hear of Muscle Beach in conjunction with people like Jack LaLanne, Steve Reeves, Vic Tanny, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, but it was also a popular hangout for movie stars, including Clark Gable, Kirk Douglas, Jayne Mansfield, and Mae West. (I like to think that it was when Mae turned up that the scene got too steamy for the locals, but of course, I totally just made that up.) While it doesn't have the same pull for today's Hollywood A-list (and considering their recent behavior, I think we're all glad for that), you can still spot famous bodybuilders—and even the occasional Beachbody icon!
  4. True: Hulk Hogan once worked out there on an episode of Baywatch. I realize this is not the most useful fact to have in your mental library, but like many other people who went to high school in the 1980s, I can't pass up the opportunity to reference Hulk Hogan and Baywatch in one sentence. Because we love them both. Ironically or something. It's hard to tell the difference sometimes.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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