I sing the body athletic You've finished redecorating the house, repairing the car, and digging the new flowerbed. Everything looks great, so what's next? Spend the rest of the summer working on yourself. In today's fast-paced world, it seems that everything gets attention except your body. Remember your New Year's resolution? Continue what you started in January and make yourself a new body. Along the way, you'll also get fit. Research now shows that you can change your body's musculature and aerobic capacity at any age. When it comes to improving your body, it's never too late.

To get you started, the following list of affordable books includes something for every age group, and some are even small enough to take on end-of-the-summer trips. Whether you've been working hard at your health and fitness routine since New Year's or whether you're a decades-old, seasoned fitness enthusiast, the information in these books will take you further along in your personal journey to fitness and better health. Power Up: 101 Ways to Boost Your Energy (Avon, $12, 0380797240). People at any level of fitness (and any age) will benefit by reading Daryn Eller's book, because it's about something we all want more of energy. Eller gives 101 tips on how to get it and how to keep it. How can you get the most out of your running or weight-lifting routine? What tips help you build cardio endurance during your jogging/running workouts or add muscle after your resistance training routine? If you've just started working out, which foods can help you fuel your body and maximize those workouts? If you're a senior just beginning a fitness regimen, how can you keep your energy up? Eller talks high-octane nutrition, energizing workouts, and body-mind revitalizers for powering up the natural, safe way. This is good news for those who are presently on medication or under doctor's observation. Each topic is relatively short, and the author gives a helpful resource section at the end, complete with e-mail addresses, online addresses, and phone numbers.

The Principles of Running: Practical Lessons from My First 100,000 Miles (Rodale, $15.95, 1579540384) was written by a runner who knows what he's talking about. I remember Amby Burfoot's Boston Marathon win while in college in 1968 and was prompted to begin making my own tracks. In his new book, Burfoot offers clear, simple advice to runners who want to improve their marathon performance, reduce their injuries, and attain a better running body. This book is particularly useful for those who are just beginning this sport it's chock-full of tips and tried-and-true advice acquired over 35 years. You'll cut a lot of painful corners if you take your advice from someone who's been there. If you only have time for a short read, you don't need to follow the chapters in any particular order; the numerous Principles sections cut straight to the most important stuff. Burfoot begins by talking to the new runner. His advice on aches and pains and handling blisters is something you're going to need. He moves on to women runners and pregnancy, equipment, nutrition, training, weight loss, the weather factor, injury prevention, marathoning, and much more. Give this one to a running friend, new or experienced.

The Doctor's Book of Home Remedies for Seniors, by Doug Dollemore, is an A-Z guide for seniors and is offered here for those who like to stay physically active, mentally sharp, and disease-free. Through the years, Rodale Press has earned its kudos by delivering first-rate, usable information to consumers who want safe yet effective solutions to their problems, whether personal or environmental. This book is no exception. It's a large volume and meant to be used. More than 350 doctors and other health care practitioners who specialize in the treatment of seniors share numerous tips and techniques. You will find 1,500 doctor-recommended remedies that can help prevent, relieve, or cure 120 ailments commonly affecting older citizens. Each section of the book discusses the problem; tells you When to See a Doctor ; enables you to try simple, cost effective remedies under Try This First ; offers Other Wise Ways to attack the problem, and then advises you about Managing Your Meds. This large reference provides helpful answers to the questions seniors are likely to ask. Any senior, active or not, will value this book and consult it often.

Massage for Busy People (New World Library, $10.95, 1577310829), by Dawn Groves, is perfect for the sports-minded who are constantly on the go. This little book is small enough to slip into your suitcase next to your workout clothes. Whether using the hotel fitness center equipment or your handy fitness band, you may need something for on-the-road aches and pains that sometimes accompany a more intense workout. Groves demonstrates self-massage techniques that deliver relief in minutes and includes instructions for quick massage when sitting at a desk, in a vehicle, or an airplane. There's something to ease the body during prolonged walking or standing and a sure-fire cure for lethargy and backache. She also throws in techniques for replenishing your energy as well as easing a stiff neck or a headache so common to travelers (this is great for long summer trips business or pleasure). Clear instructions, varied topics, and 30 photos make this little book the perfect post-workout cool-down and the perfect gift for any health-conscious traveler of any age.

Healing Mantras (Ballantine, $12.95, 345431707), by Thomas Ashley-Farrand, will prove to be a trip down memory lane for those of us who listened to Ravi Shankar in the '60s. These . . . chanting of songs, verses, and mystic formulas existed long before the development of even the most primitive instruments. In modern times, the healing benefits of liturgical chanting have only recently been rediscovered . . . Ashley-Farrand's book is the first practical how-to guide in which ancient Sanskrit mantras have been explained and adapted to Western needs.

However, the book is not only for beginners who wish to study the energy-based techniques of sound meditation. It's for the practiced as well. The author explains how mantras work, how to use your own mantra, and how these rhythms of healing sounds can help solve health problems, allow you to find inner peace, gain mental clarity, and overcome fear. If you've always steeped yourself in the Western Tradition, after reading this book you may consider that there are other effective ways to reach a state of wellness and peace in body and mind.

Pat Regel gardens and pumps iron.

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