If you can exercise, read about it

If you’re feeling inspired, it’s better to actually go for a hike, stretch your hamstrings or shoot some hoops than it is to lounge around reading about sports, fitness and the outdoors.

But your life is sure to include a few rainy afternoons and head colds during the coming New Year. So here are some titles worthy of either circumstance:

[] “The Pilates Body” by Brooke Siler (Broadway Books, $18). This book is a safe bet for frugal fitness buffs who are interested in improving core strength and are also motivated enough to work out at home.  Pilates exercises may be hard to perfect, but the step-by-step explanations make them easy to understand.  A nice bonus: The volume flops open nicely, and stays open, so that readers might study the techniques on its pages and attempt to perform them at the same time.

[] “Points Unknown: A Century of Great Exploration” edited by David Roberts (W.W. Norton, $29.95): Outside Magazine contributing editor David Roberts culls excerpts from the words of the explorers themselves, including Edward Abbey, Tim Cahill, Sebastian Junger and Robert Falcon Scott.  The first-person accounts will remind readers of the limits there are to be tested and of the regions left to explore in this highly mechanized world.

[] “It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life” by Lance Armstrong with Sally Jenkins, (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, $24.95): Lance Armstrong was a champion cyclist.  Then he got cancer.  He recovered and went on to win the Tour de France.  This is his story.

[] “Beyond Power Yoga: 8 Levels of Practice for Body and Soul,” by Beryl Bender Birch (Fireside, $16): Author Birch sang the praises of sweaty, athletic practice in her book “Power Yoga.” Her new book, “Beyond Power Yoga,” digs a little deeper.  The volume introduces readers to the eight limbs of yoga practice.

[] “El Capitan: Historic Feats and Radical Routes” by Daniel Duane (Chronicle Books, $24.95): El Capitan is a granite magnet, pulling rock climbers to Yosemite Valley to scale 3,000 feet of sheer rock.  Duane speaks to those climbers — eccentric, passionate, driven — and in the process offers up microcosmic history of the pursuit.

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