How to Tone and Treat Your Arms

Want to bare Michelle Obama-esque arms this summer? Show them some love.

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See you later, sweater weather. The summer wardrobe is all about rocking halters, tanks, bikinis and strapless dresses. What's better motivation than that to work toward the perfect tone and glow? Whether you're pushing your kids on the swings, lugging your picnic basket through the park or perfecting your spike at a beach volleyball game, your arms will be in full action all summer long. Read on for five ways to show them some love: slimming, smoothing and toning galore!

Break out your biceps. Many people shy away from lifting weights in the hopes of avoiding unwanted bulk, but it actually takes a tremendous amount of work to increase muscle size. With a few exercises throughout the week – just a few light repetitions – you can work toward those killer Cameron Diaz arms we all want. The bicep curl is one of the most basic exercises, and if done consistently, it can reap real results. No need to venture to the gym for this workout. With just a pair of dumbbells, you can work your biceps while watching television, waiting for a yummy meal to come out of the oven or really anytime at all.

  • Stand with your feet hip width apart, core tight and arms down at your sides so your fists are touching your thighs.
  • Keeping your elbows tight against your ribs, slowly curl your fists and dumbbells up toward your shoulders and slowly return to starting position.
  • Start with three sets of 10.
  • Tear up those triceps. Triceps, the muscles that span the back of your upper arm from your shoulder to your elbow, are a perfect area to focus on if you covet Michelle Obama's arms. For tricep dips, all you need is a bench or a stable chair, so again, no gym needed! Finish your run in the park with a few sets of dips, do them in your living room or even sneak a few dips in at the office.

    • Position your hands shoulder width apart on a secured bench or stable chair.
    • Stand in front of the bench with your legs bent and feet placed about hip width apart on the floor.
    • Straighten out your arms but keep a little bend in your elbows.
    • Slowly bend at your elbows and lower your upper body down towards the floor until your arms are at about a 90 degree angle. Keep your back close to the bench.
    • Once you reach the bottom of the movement, slowly press off with your hands and push yourself straight back up to the starting position.
    • Do a few reps until you feel the burn!
    • Exfoliate your elbows. In the summer, your elbows are exposed to the heat and sun without any protection. Since you'll be slipping into those sexy tanks, why not exfoliate for silky smooth elbows? Exfoliation brushes off dead, dry skin and exposes the fresher, newer skin cells beneath, which helps in the natural renewing process. Use bath salts to rub onto your elbows, or even make a homemade scrub by combining brown sugar with olive oil in a small bowl. Get a good scrub in every other time you're in the shower, and always keep bath salts stored in your bathroom.

      Don't forget your forearms. The biceps and the triceps get all the press when it comes to arms, but don't neglect your forearms. To work this part of your arms, find a friend and hit up a rock climbing facility for an afternoon adventure. You'll be challenging yourself and toning your forearms at the same time. Don't have enough Spiderman in you to tackle the wall? You can work your forearms with an easy tennis ball squeeze. Simply hold a tennis ball in your hand and try to crush it as best as you can.

      Get hugging. If you've read my latest book, The New You and Improved Diet, you'll know why I think cuddling and sex are so important for women and our health. Mother Nature's marvelous hormone, oxytocin, has been nicknamed the "calm and connection hormone" because it soothes us and makes us feel closer to people around us, and it also has antioxidant power. Made in the neurons of the pituitary gland, oxytocin is released through the simple act of cuddling or holding hands. An even easier way to trigger this hormone release? Hugging!

      Now that you've given your own arms some loving, start using them to give your friends and family some loving, too! Wrap your arms tightly around your loved ones and you'll not only make them happy, but you'll also be improving your own health. Researchers at the University of North Carolina found that oxytocin levels can rise to a point that actually lowers blood pressure, which can help protect us against many diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes.

      Hungry for more? Write to eatandrun@usnews.com with your questions, concerns, and feedback.

      Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, is the founder and president of Nutritious Life, a nutrition practice based in New York City, and Nutritious Life Meals, a gourmet, healthy, daily diet delivery program available across the country. She is a member of Women's Health Magazine's advisory board and has authored Slim Calm Sexy Diet, The O2 Diet, and The Snack Factor Diet. Her fourth book, The New You and Improved Diet, will be released in December. Her expertise is regularly featured on the Today show, Good Morning America, and Access Hollywood Live, among others, and she hosts "A Little Bit Better" on YouTube's Livestrong Woman channel. Read more of Keri's tips every day on Facebook!