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America's Biggest Health Threats (and How You Can Overcome Them)

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On her reality show, Could You Survive?, health-and-fitness guru Pamela Peeke, MD, teaches real women how to get fit enough to be prepared for anything. Here, she shares her get-fit strategies for surviving everyday life's biggest challenges, from couch potato syndrome to the hidden health risks in your pantry.

Get Fit to Survive

If you had to scale a cliff to get help or run down 20 flights of stairs to escape a burning building, could you do it? For too many people, the answer is no. That's why health-and-fitness guru Pamela Peeke, MD, is on a mission to toughen us up -- before disaster strikes. Use her get-fit strategies to make sure you're ready for anything.

Hurricanes. Car crashes. Forest fires.

Thanks to global warming and a world that's crazier and more crowded than ever, the chance that any one of us will be involved in a 911 situation is on the rise. Yet our ability to get through it is in question. More than half of Americans don't do enough activity to get any true health benefit, and 25 percent of us never exercise, period. That has FITNESS advisory board member Pamela Peeke, MD, freaked out. "People think, 'Oh, if I really had to sprint a mile in an emergency, I could,'" says Dr. Peeke, host of a new reality show called Could You Survive? that debuts on the Discovery Health Channel on December 4. "But the truth is, lots of them couldn't pull it off." She points to Hurricane Katrina as an example. "I saw one woman on the news who lacked the stamina to hold on to the bough of a tree long enough for a rescuer to reach her," she says. "The coverage was so tragic -- and eye-opening -- that it gave me the idea for my TV series."

Here's how the show works: On Day One, participants are put in the middle of a (staged) disaster, such as a building collapse or a car wreck, and they have to make their way to safety. Not a single person gets through fast enough to save herself. "Realizing so dramatically that their lives are at stake is the best motivation these women have ever had to get in shape," Dr. Peeke says. With help from her and a team of former Marines, the contestants make over their diets and work out four days a week. They build muscle and increase their strength and endurance. Then, one month later, they get the chance to redo (and survive) their disaster challenges.

On the next few pages we'll teach you how to steer clear of five truly sneaky fat traps you face every day.


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