• When is the best time to work out?
Dr. Martin Gibala, an exercise physiologist from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., says: "Fit in exercise whenever it suits your schedule. I see no particular scientific merit in jogging at midnight, and it makes no sense to do aerobics early in the morning if you're not a morning person. Over the long term, consistency is more important than timing."
• What's the best form of exercise for weight loss?
"Jogging, cycling and elliptical training are all very good," says Gibala.
• What's the best form of exercise to maintain a healthy heart?
"I recommend skipping or any exercise that involves large, multi-joint movements that raise your heart rate."
• How long should you work out aerobically before you start burning stored fat?
"Research shows that 20 minutes of interval- or high-intensity effective for weight loss," says Gibala. "Twenty minutes of walking is less so. The ideal workout length really depends on intensity."
• Does working out in the morning on an empty stomach burn more calories?
"No. You burn the same number of calories for a given workout, but morning exercise may slightly increase the calories burned from fat -- and less from carbohydrates," explains Gibala. Note that exercise after an overnight fast may increase your risk of dizziness or fainting -- due to low blood sugar -- so you may want to cut your workout short because you're hungry!"
• Should you drink water during your exercise routine or after? Which way burns fat better?
"Neither strategy burns fat better, but dehydration is a risk. You should measure your fluid loss by weighing yourself before and after exercise. Then keep your body hydrated during and after exercise by sipping water or a sports drink."
• What is the fastest way to lose five pounds?
"High-intensity exercise is still the best way," explains Gibala. "High-protein diets seem to work too, but this is mainly due to water loss, not fat loss. Instead of crash dieting, try reducing your food intake slowly, by 100 to 200 calories a day."
• Is body mass index (BMI) an accurate indication of whether you need to lose weight?
"No. BMI is a statistical measure of weight scaled to height and body weight. Muscles weigh more. That's why athletes with low body fat often have a high BMI, while people with reduced muscle mass have a lower BMI but high body fat."
How are you going to get fit this spring? Tell us and other ELLE Canada readers in our forums! Take our 20-minute bikini challenge!
Red-carpet walks call for strict body measures. ELLE follows the stars to the spas.
• Chiva-Som, Hua Hin
Stars like Jude Law and Elizabeth Hurley are jetting to Thailand for some transformational therapy at the luxury health resort Chiva-Som. The program includes Shaolin kung fu exercises to tone major muscle groups, fitness programs with giant "ch'i balls" containing aromatherapy scents and a specially designed detox menu with a mix of healthy bits and bites www.chivasom.com.
• Kalari Kovilakom, Kerala
You could get used to palace living at this one-of-a-kind retreat in Kerala, India. Its guests, like Manhattan celebrity cosmetic derm Lisa Airan, swear by the strict Ayurvedic program. Herbal treatments, massages, medicines, diet and purifying baths combine with classes in yoga, pranayama (breathing exercises) and Kalaripayattu, an ancient Buddhist martial art www.kalarikovilakom.com .
• Parrot Cay, Turks and Caicos
Designer Donna Karan and Sir Paul's soon-to-be-ex, Heather Mills, have both trimmed down on Parrot Cay Resort's low-fat, organic menu and a regular program of shadow yoga classes. Shadow yoga, a variation of hatha, promises "to get your life force going" through a combination of martial arts, chi gung and Ayurvedic medicine www.parrotcay.com.
• Salus Per Aquum, Gold Coast, Queensland
Australia's glittering Gold Coast is home to the overthe- top Salus Per Aquum Spa at the Palazzo Versace resort hotel. A favourite of European royalty, like Prince Albert of Monaco, and American heiresses, like Paris Hilton, Salus assigns each guest a personal trainer who is dedicated to them for the length of their stay. In-between all the parties, guests enjoy golf and tennis www.palazzoversace.com.
• Como Shambhala Estate, Bali, Indonesia
Pop diva Kylie Minogue restores herself at the spectacular water gardens and mountain springs of this spiritual estate. Physical activities include outdoor hikes, water exercises and a variety of contemporary body-work sessions www.begawan-giri.com.
Image courtesy of WireImage.com Check out these exercises to get you beach body ready!
Exercise with attitude -- from combat cardio workouts to detox boot camps and knock-'em-out pillow fights.
Slumber-party pillow fights have evolved into a full-fledged women's league, complete with a world champion in Toronto's Stacy Reardon. Fights go on for five minutes and involve endurance stand-up fighting, pillow swinging and wrestling holds. "I don't try to hurt people," says Reardon, "but sometimes competitors get carried away." Foam or feather? "We're only allowed foam. Some people are allergic to feathers" www.gopfl.com .
Adrenalin junkies who loved the rooftop chase in Casino Royale should check out parkour. Developed in France, parkour is a form of free running where the goal is to adapt your movements to every obstacle that comes your way. Devotees leap across rooftops, slide down handrails and scale walls in a quest to keep moving forward. Most cities offer classes in local parks www.pkto.ca.
Party all night and then hit Vancouver's trendy boutique fitness club Studéo 55. Urban Detox classes every Saturday morning offer a co-ed, bootcamp- style workout featuring a 40-station circuit of mat exercises, free weights and lunges -- all done to the beat of a live DJ. It's perfect for sweating out last night's martinis www.studeo55.ca.
The next time a thief tries to run off with your Choos, kick into Krav Maga mode. This self-defence program -- the official hand-to-hand combat system used by the Israel Defense Forces -- has been adapted to a high-intensity workout that combines sparring with disarming techniques. Fans include Jennifer Lopez www.kravmaga.com.
Hook up your iPod to the fitness commands of Chris Carmichael, Lance Armstrong's long-time trainer. Carmichael is the author of 5 Essentials for a Winning Life and producer of a range of workout DVDs that are sure to whip you into shape. Carmichael also has iPod running and cycling workouts available online for $11.70 a class www.trainright.com.
If you want to look slimmer...
• Adopt what beauty-pageant coordinators call the "hesitation stance": stand with your hips turned slightly to the side and put your weight on your back leg; throw back your shoulders, extend your front leg forward slightly and point your toe-then smile!
• Get a slimming mirror.
• Invest in the HP Photosmart R927 Digital Camera with a built-in slimming function. It instantly sheds the 10 pounds that a camera adds.
• Wear a chunky watch or some bangles to make your wrists look dainty.
Image courtesy of Geoffrey Ross Sitting pretty
Workout tips for those looking for a shortcut to perfection.
If you balk at the idea of physical and mental extremes, try the calm flow of tai chi postures. While you're achieving a stress-free state through gentle hand presses and shallow knee bends, you'll be burning more calories than a surfer and nearly as many as a downhill skier, not to mention increasing your longevity.
Shopping burns calories!
For every hour you spend weaving your way through the shoe aisles and lifting your arm to point at desired items on the mannequins, experts say you'll burn a total of 157 calories. (This applies to women who weigh 150 pounds.)
Anti-cellulite products are tailormade for stylish slackers. L'Oréal Paris' PerfectSlim Patch contains concentrated Cx Caffeine and menthol to firm skin and reduce the appearance of stubborn cellulite. And because the patches should be worn for eight-hour stretches three times a week for optimum results, excessive exertion is discouraged.
A recent British study from St. George's Hospital in London found that certain scents, like vanilla, may help with weight loss. Participants wearing vanilla scented skin patches reported having fewer cravings for sweets. The aroma of vanilla beans and vanilla body products may help too. Similar studies are being conducted with grapefruit scent.
Having a pedicure burns about 10 calories, says Gibala. (By our calculations, that would include four tummy crunches to untie your shoes and then put them back on, four leg lifts to take your feet in and out of the soaking tub and two leg extensions to have your toes polished.)
Films to get you moving
Rumour has it that watching action movies elevates your metabolic rate, possibly helping you to lose weight. "You may get a shot of adrenalin," says Gibala, "but that will have a negligible impact on your weight-loss plan. Getting off the couch is a much better idea." But if that's not likely to happen, here are five films that should inspire you to work out.
Run Lola Run In this 1998 German indie film, Lola, played by The Bourne Identity's Franka Potente, has 20 minutes to collect and deliver the 100,000 Deutschmarks her boyfriend has lost before he's done in by mobsters. Warning: Plan on a nap after watching all those running sequences.
Footloose The '80s musical montages in this story about repressed townies will have you busting out into dance sequences and punching your fists at the sky. Everybody cut footloose!
Flashdance In 1983, this feelgood favourite starring Jennifer Beals as Pittsburgh's sexiest welder cum dancer had us believing in the fashion merits of permed hair, leg warmers and ripped sweatshirts. Those victorious taglines will live on forever: "Take your passion, and make it happen!"
Million Dollar Baby Actress Hilary Swank teamed up with boxing champion Lucia Rijker and gained nearly 20 pounds of muscle to play the part of Maggie Fitzgerald in 2004's Million Dollar Baby. Thirtysomething waitresses everywhere were inspired to hand in their notice.
Little Miss Sunshine This sleeper hit from 2006 about a neurotic family on the verge of a breakdown had an unintentional fitness angle. Don't knock the aerobic benefits of trying to jump into a moving Volkswagen van until you've tried it!
Image courtesy of Geoffrey Ross
What's your favourite work out movie? Chat about it in our forums!