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February 28, 2000

Is Your Wardrobe Making You Fat?

Wearing short skirts and high heels every day may actually CHANGE YOUR BODY'S SHAPE in a bad way. Here, Dr. Micheal Clark, CEO of the National Academy of Sports Medicine, explains why this happens—and how to fix it

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BODY BUSTER: Stiff, high-heeled boots
WHAT THEY MAY GIVE YOU: Flabby inner thighs
WHY: Thick-soled shoes that don't flex correctly cause the feet to turn out slightly when you walk, making the deep, outer butt muscles tight (a good thing), but the inner thighs weak and flabby.
QUICK FIX: Wall squats Place a stability ball between your lower back and the wall, and squeeze a folded towel between your knees. Lean back against the ball so that your shoulders are over your hips, and slowly squat down by rolling the ball down the wall. Keep the pressure on the towel by squeezing your knees together. When your legs make a 90-degree angle, press through the heels to stand back up. Do three sets of 15 reps three times a week.

BODY BUSTER: Push-up bras
WHY: Uncomfortable underwires can cause you to round forward, making your chest muscles shorten and your back muscles weaken.
QUICK FIX: The cobra Lie facedown, arms by your sides and feet together. Now squeeze your shoulder blades together, lift your head and chest off the floor about six inches, and hold for five counts, then lower. Do three sets of 15 reps three times a week.

BODY BUSTER: Ballet flats
WHY: Shoes with no arch support can cause the feet to flatten out, the knees to roll inward, and the pelvis to tilt forward, resulting in shortened hip-flexor muscles-- and a saggy butt.
QUICK FIX: Stability-ball bridges Lie with your shoulders and upper back balanced on a ball, knees bent. Clench your butt, press your hips up to the ceiling, and hold for five counts; lower. Do three sets of 15 reps three times a week.

BODY BUSTER: Low-rise jeans
WHY: Standing with your hips jutting forward and your back super-arched (to look slim) can make your stomach muscles lax and difficult to flatten.
QUICK FIX: Intensified crunches Lie on your back with your knees bent and your arms crossed over your chest. From here, lift your chest (not your head) toward the ceiling. Hold for one count, then slowly lower. Do three sets of 15 reps three times a week.

BODY BUSTER: Short skirts
WHY: If you wear minis a lot, you constantly sit with crossed legs--fine for modesty, bad for body. Crossed legs can weaken your outer thighs and make them jiggle.
QUICK FIX: Sidesteps Wrap a resistance band around your ankles and sidestep across the room, your knees slightly bent, leading first with the right foot for 15 steps, then with the left. Repeat two more times; do three times a week.

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