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Fitness flashes: News you can choose

Healthy lifestyle news comes and goes. Some is worthwhile, some should be ignored, some confuses us even more - as in the continuing debate over farmed salmon vs. wild vs. wild-but-frozen vs. farmed-but-pristine.

Your intrepid reporter offers up a thoroughly biased selection of the weirdest and wisest: Cheers! The Earth’s first calorie-burning soda.

File this under Needless Nectars. It’s a new soda drink called Celsius, and it’s being marketing as the “Earth’s first calorie-burning soda.” (Apparently, the moon folk have been drinking this stuff for years).

The manufacturers claim that Celsius is the perfect replacement drink for high-calorie sodas, high-caffeine energy drinks and high-priced designer coffees, because after you drink one, your metabolic system goes into overdrive and burns more calories than it otherwise would.

Do I really want something artificial rocketing me into overdrive? What burns me about Celsius is that it’s a gimmick, a fake beverage that no one needs and that is no help whatsoever in terms of losing weight. Why replace one soda with another when the honorable thing to do is junk sodas completely?

Jeers. Another diet drug gets approved

We keep learning the same lesson time and time again: Diet drugs don’t work. And yet, the FDA recently approved the “first officially sanctioned weight-loss drug to be sold without a prescription.” It’s called Alli - rhymes with “folly.” I know the FDA is frantic to do something about the astonishing increase of obesity in America, but approving another diet drug sends the wrong message for the umpteenth time. It gives people false hope, not to mention oily stools and diarrhea - two of the reported side effects of this new drug.

If you want to lose weight - and who doesn’t? -- pills are not the magic answer. Get physical, eat smarter, keep an honest food journal, and repeat after me: Diet drugs don’t work.

The low down on high-impact aerobics

The news about jumping jacks is not good: People who did lots of high-impact aerobics classes in the ‘80s and ‘90s are now paying the price. Their knees are shot, their hips and backs hurt, and they are hobbling in to see their doctors in record numbers. Is this what Jane Fonda intended? Absolutely not. But it happened anyway - the Law of Unintended Sports Injuries.

One high-impact aerobics class a week may be OK, but five a week turns out to be too much stress and pressure on your body. The moral of this story is simple: When it comes to lifelong fitness, moderation is the key. Too much of any one sport - running, biking, even swimming unless you’re a fish - can lead to overuse injuries. Instead, cross-train, don’t overdo it, and remember: Getting fit should feel like pleasure, not pain. “Going for the burn,” we now know, is playing with fire.

In March, the eyes have it

Living a healthy lifestyle is all about practicing prevention. Prevention is based on awareness, and, wouldn’t you know it, March is Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) Awareness Month. So focus on this: AMD is the leading cause of visual impairment and blindness in Americans older than 50.

Sure, you can play sports and climb mountains and be fit even if you can’t see, but you can also see how important it is to do the things that help prevent AMD from happening. Here’s the “Do It Now” list, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology: Don’t smoke. Eat a heart-healthy diet rich in fish, fruits and green, leafy vegetables. Say no to foods with trans fats. Keep your blood pressure and weight in your normal range. And, you knew I was getting around to this, exercise.

Come dance with me

When it comes to devising your own plan for being more active, consider this bit of good news recently reported by Dr. Romualdo Belardinelli of the Lancisi Heart Institute in Ancona, Italy.

Waltzing is as beneficial to health as working out on treadmills and stationary bicycles. Come back, Lawrence Welk, all is forgiven.

When you dance - all dances, not just the waltz - you engage your muscles and your bones, your hips and your heart, and you do it rhythmically. Exercise doesn’t get any better than that. So whether it’s Strauss, Sinatra or the Dixie Chicks, put a little dolce vita in your life - go dancing.

Marilynn Preston -- fitness expert, personal trainer and speaker on healthy lifestyle issues -- welcomes reader questions, which can be sent to MyEnergyExpress@aol.com.