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Health and Fitness  

BBC Health
The BBC's UK and worldwide reputation for public spirited provision of information may well be on the decline, but is still second to none. The health information on the site is better on the more general topics than on the more specialised, however, because of the way the information is tied in with the BBC's past and present broadcasting, the site is a particularly useful source on currently debated and contentious issues in health. The homepage is a bit cluttered because of all the links to a whole wealth of other unrelated BBC services, but the aforementioned advantages make it an essential tool to be used on its own for more general enquiries, and in conjunction with other sites for more detailed research.

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This UK-based site is certainly a far more serious and well-grounded operation than is initially implied by the name. Conceived as a valuable online reference tool for doctors just as much as for patients, the breadth of information on offer is impressive. The search facility yields masses of authoritative and in-depth information both on conditions as well as drugs, though you might have to be well-versed in matters medical to make sense of some of it. The layout of the homepage is also among the best, both simple and functional.


Dr. Koop
One of the most well-established but also most popular of all health sites on the Internet and it's not hard to see why. It manages effortlessly the difficult feat of providing an all-encompassing and far-reaching resource while at the same time remaining clear and simple to use. You can easily check drug interactions ( first use a local source to find the correct US or generic equivalent) as well as having at your disposal a plethora of in-depth articles on innumerable medical conditions and more general wellness topics like fitness. All content is monitored by a medical advisory board and the main page features all the most recent health news you could wish for. The US bias of the site means that international users should access it in conjunction with a more local source of information, but whether on its own or as part of such a combination, Dr Koop is a truly essential port of call.

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Planet Medica
This European offering is certainly the most interactive of all the health sites we've seen. Its numerous question and answer tests are an excellent first step in the general investigation of minor ailments; a very useful way of either putting your mind to rest or setting you on the path to further examination. Its ability to handle more specific enquiries is also more than adequate. The excellent A to Z of medical conditions proves that the information is all there even if search facility returns are a little less fruitful than some other sites'.


Fitness Online
With articles culled from the best American fitness and well-being magazines both for men and women such as Shape, Natural Health. Men's Fitness etc., Fitnessonline's claim to be "the leading health and fitness content destination on the world-wide web" is not without some merit. With sections such as Mind And Body and Adventure, the emphasis is not just on fitness activities but general lifestyle as well. The current trend in fitness portals is to offer tailored interactive programs that will monitor your progress on payment of a subscription fee and this site seems set to follow suit. The idea of paying a web-based trainer can certainly seem unreasonable at first until you realise both the level of expertise available and that, as people first discovered when Weight Watchers came about, it's only when you have a real stake in a program that you are likely to succeed. That said Fitnessonline's programs are still under development and it remains to be seen how they will measure up to the others. Judging by the quality of the site they will certainly be worth checking out. There are a few interactive tools but for the time being it is most valuable as a quality online magazine.

Argos Additions Homepage
Top brand products in a variety of categories including clothing, footwear and accessories for men, women and children, sportswear, exercise equipment and home styles. (UK-based)

Fitness Heaven is a relatively new portal which is certainly set to become a major player in the area. An ambitious project, it is not only packed with over 2000 articles, it is particularly strong when it comes to the ever-more popular personalised fitness and diet routines, with enough different programs to suit every user.
The articles themselves are on the whole informative and enthusiastically written though not quite to print-media standards. With the obligatory Health and Fitness sections as well as Wellness, Diet and Athletics, there seems to be something for everyone and as a general online magazine it works well, though when you come across articles dealing with Feng Shui and "creativity" you can begin to wonder if it isn't maybe casting its net a little too wide. Layout and navigation are excellent with the design possibly owing something to the previous site.

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