once you’ve made a decision to exercise at home, you’ll need to determine what piece of aerobic or cardiovascular equipment is right for you . The most expensive, fancy piece of equipment isn’t worth a dime if it just sits there . You have to want to use it and enjoy using it . People who buy treadmills seem to be the ones who stick to using their new equipment .
About 80% of people who bring home a treadmill are still using it three years later on a regular basis . Equipment that collects dust or ends up as a very expensive towel rack is usually of poor quality, a fad, awkward to use or doesn’t meet your fitness goals . Do your homework .
There is a host of aerobic or cardio equipment to consider: treadmills (motorized and non-motorized), stationary bikes, steppers, step platforms, riders, jump ropes, rowers and crosscountry ski machines . All work your heart and lungs . Some emphasize muscles in the lower body and some emphasize muscles in the upper body . We find that if you’re not very fit, using a rower, rider or ski machine can be hard at first . When you use the small muscles in your upper body you tend to tire more quickly and therefore are not able to work out long enough to get results . You’re left feeling discouraged and end up not continuing with your exercise program . And you now what happens to that expensive piece of equipment—it becomes a towel rack .
Buying exercise equipment is an investment in your health so you want to make sure you have all the information you need to make the right decision for you . Some of the decision making should be done before you go into a store . First, determine your goals:
- What form of exercise or activities do you enjoy? If you’re an avid cyclist, a stationary bike can help you enjoy the long winter months and keep you in shape for the next outdoor season of riding .
- Are there safety features you need specifically? For example, a safety key on a treadmill to ensure that your children can’t use the equipment .
- What space is available at home to accommodate the piece of fitness equipment? Would a particular spot near the Tv, stereo or window accommodate a stationary bike or fold up treadmill? Remember, out of sight, out of mind and chances are you’ll soon forget about the investment in your health and feel you just wasted money .
- How much money can you afford? It’s an investment and often how much you spend will determine how durable and stable the piece of equipment is and how well it will perform . Equipment of poor quality is a major factor in causing many people to stop exercising .
What health concerns do you have? Do you have knee or back problems, heart disease or osteoporosis? Physical limitations don’t mean you have to avoid exercise all together .Just speak with your doctor, as exercise could be the best medicine you can take . For example, a recumbent exercise bike may be the answer if you have problems with your back or are pregnant .
We suggest that you look at your first purchase as the beginning of your home gym . Design it to meet your needs and allow for growth as your desire for change and improvement in your fitness grows .
When you’re ready to head out to the stores:
- make sure you wear comfortable clothing and exercise shoes so that you can test-drive the equipment you’ve determined to be right for you . It will also give you a chance to check out all the other equipment options .
- Go to stores that have a knowledgable sales staff and visit more than one store, especially if you are buying a piece of aerobic or cardio equipment . They’ll help you to learn more about the features and prices available . The more you learn, the easier it will be to make an informed decision .Regardless of the piece of fitness equipment you’re thinking about buying, keep in mind the following:
- Does it fit your body type or can you adjust it to fit your body type?
- Does it move smoothly?
- Is it sturdy?
- Are the majority of joints welded or bolted? Bolts will loosen over time .
- Do you like doing that particular exercise?
- What type of warranty is offered?
- How is service handled?
- Is there a detailed manual?
- Is there fitness advice or consulting available to get you started?
- If price really becomes an issue, forgo the bells and whistles such as computerized gadgets and programs . The physical workings of a piece of equipment are more important .
once you’ve purchased your piece of aerobic or cardio equipment and it’s home:
- make sure you read the instruction manual .
- double check the assembly .
- place it in the location you plan to work out in . Location, location, location is everything . Lighting, your Tv, a stereo
- and pleasant surroundings will help motivate you to workout .
We believe that a treadmill is the best piece of aerobic or cardio equipment you can purchase . Walking is a natural movement and a treadmill allows people at any fitness level to exercise, from cardiac patients, pregnant women, beginners to the elite athlete . As fitness improves you can begin to jog or run to increase the intensity of your workout or you may choose to incorporate a more difficult incline/decline into your walking program .
It’s important that you don’t compromise on price and certain features when it comes to buying a treadmill . This is an investment and you’ll want it to last and deliver on performance .
Consider these key points when buying a motorized treadmill:
- All major joints should be welded together . The more bolted joints, the less stable it will become over time as the bolts loosen .
- The track should be long enough for a full stride . About 50 inches is plenty .
- The deck should be as maintenance-free as possible . A deck requiring lubrication with silicon every month can be messy and you may forget, damaging the belt .
- A cotton weave belt rolls more smoothly than a nylon belt .A nylon belt may also slip .
- A three horsepower motor that can operate between 0 .5 mph to 10 mph is appropriate for beginners and intermediate exercisers . A higher end treadmill could offer a 4 .25 horsepower motor . It’s like comparing a v6 engine to a v8 .
- Automatic incline from 0% to 12% adjusts the elevation of the treadmill . You can easily increase the intensity level of your workout without increasing the speed . A decline feature is also available on the higher priced, industrial treadmills .
This feature simulates walking or running downhill, adds more variety to your workouts and works the muscles in your legs and buttocks differently .
Computerized programs help keep you motivated during your workout by adding different incline and intensity levels . However, depending upon your fitness level you may not need all the programs which will affect the price of a treadmill .
- Is the treadmill fully folding to save on space when it’s not in use?
- Look for safety features such as automatic shut off if you need to get off the treadmill immediately, safety latches to ensure that the folding treadmill will not accidentally lower and handlebars should you need help keeping your balance .
Consider these key points when buying a nonmotorized treadmill:
- The belt must not impede your natural walking gait . You should not feel that you are walking against it but with it .
- Is the treadmill fully folding to save on space when the treadmill is not in use?
- Look for safety features such as safety latches (to ensure that the folding treadmill will not accidentally lower) and handlebars (to assist
- you in maintaining your balance) .
- Computerized programs help to keep you motivated during your workout by adding different incline and intensity levels . However, depending upon your fitness level you may not need all the programs which will affect the price of a treadmill .
Often people find an exercise bike a convenient and enjoyable way to workout whether it’s due to their fitness level, physical restrictions or for the sheer love of the sport . However, using a bike is not considered a weight-bearing exercise, which is important in the fight against osteoporosis .Consider these key points when buying an exercise bike:
- Probably the most important feature of an exercise bike is the seat . If it’s not comfortable you’ll start to dread getting on it for any length of time . An extra large padded and contoured seat will ensure comfort .
- Front rolling wheels will allow for ease in moving the exercise bike .
- Computerized programs help to keep you motivated during your workout by adding different intensity levels . However, depending upon your fitness level, you may not need all the programs which will affect the price of an exercise bike .
- Look for safety features such as locked seat adjustments, handle grips and solid footings to avoid tipping .
A step is an ideal fitness product for beginners and up . In addition to the convenient size, affordable price and easy storage of this piece of equipment, you can rely on stepping to get fit . Not only can it be used for your aerobic or cardiovascular fitness but you can also use the step for strengthening movements such as performing a lying chest press in conjunction with hand weights or exercises with a portable tube gym .
Consider these key points when buying a step platform:
- Is the step made of tough plastic with a tread on top for secure footing?
- The step doesn’t have to be too large . Your complete foot should land on top and be stable when you move side to side . If it’s too large, storage will become a problem .
- Are there additional platforms so that you can adjust the height and therefore the intensity of your workout as you progress, or is there an option to purchase more?
- Is there an instructional video for beginners and up with clear and simple explanations of the moves and routines to get you started as soon as you open the box?
A jump rope is an inexpensive piece of equipment that you can use on it’s own to develop a workout or incorporate with your exercise bike, step or treadmill program . After you get accustomed to the motion of skipping and have improved your fitness there are a variety of more advanced moves that you can perform .Consider these key points when buying a jump rope:
- Is the rope adjustable to your height to provide you with an ideal swing?
- A high quality rubber compound rope will provide an ideal swing and allow you to skip on any surface, even carpet .
- Are there plastic handles that allow you to easily adjust the speed of the rope to vary your intensity level?
- Is there an instructional manual that demonstrates skipping moves and how they can be used together to get a complete workout?
HEART RATE MONITOR
The first piece of aerobic or cardio equipment that we feel you should purchase, whether working out at the gym or at home, is a heart rate monitor . As discussed in the aerobic section, it’s a safe, effective, easy and accurate way to monitor your heart rate as you exercise . To
operate this unit you simply attach the chest strap around your upper body . The strap is adjustable to fit people of all sizes . Simply put on the wristwatch and your heart rate—beats per minute— will appear on the screen of the watch . Beats per minute or BPM is the best measure of how hard your cardiovascular system is working during exercise . You should never exercise too hard or too easy if you want to see results such as losing weight .
There are a variety of monitors to choose from ranging in price from $60 to several hundred dollars depending upon the features . Joanne likes the basic model . All she wants to know is her heart rate as she exercises . Hal likes all the bells and whistles . So, here are a few of the features you might want to consider when buying a heart rate monitor:
- Do you want a handlebar mount for the watch so that the watch face can be right in front of you when you use your exercise bike or step machine?
- Are a calendar, the time of day and an hourly alarm feature important to you?
- Most heart rate monitors are water-resistant but be sure to verify this if you want to use it in the swimming pool .
- Can you set the minimum and maximum heart rate you want to exercise at so that an alarm will go off if you’re exercising too slow or too hard?
- A stopwatch feature can time your laps as it keeps track of your heart rate .
- Some monitors can keep track of your heart rate throughout your workout and utilizing a recall feature will allow you to review the information later .