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Home Exercise Equipment – Choosing the Proper Equipment For Your Workout Routine
By: C.J. Gustafson

The fitness industry has become big business as more and more people work out to get in shape. Many companies have gotten onboard the bandwagon, and the number of different types and brands of home exercise equipment available is amazing. While it is great to have options, trying to figure out which piece of home fitness equipment is right for you can be an overwhelming process. One way to help manage all this information is to identify what type of exercise or training you plan to do. Add in other factors such as your personal fitness level, budget, and space available and pick the equipment that best fits your criteria.

What Is Your Goal?

Before purchasing an exercise bike, treadmill or other type of home fitness equipment, it is important to decide what it is you hope to accomplish. Are you trying to lose weight? Perhaps you want to get in shape, tone your muscles? Maybe you want a good cardio workout? Or you may have several of these results in mind. Exercise equipment varies in its effectiveness in certain areas and by knowing what you want from your workout, you will be able to focus on those that do what you want.

Assess your Fitness Level

Also do an assessment of your comfort level with different types of exercise or movement. Do you have weak knees or a bad back? Would you rather sit than stand? How is your balance? Each type of home fitness equipment requires you to use different posture and movements and you don’t want to pick something that will cause injury or irritate an existing condition. You also don’t want equipment that is uncomfortable to use because it will be difficult to stick to your routine.

Space Considerations

The fact is, if you live in a small apartment or have limited space in your home, you may not have room for a large piece of equipment like a home gym or weight sets. Many pieces of equipment fold up for storage, but if you have to move the coffee table or love seat every time you want to fold out the treadmill, you are less likely to exercise on a regular basis.

What’s In Your Wallet?

Some exercise equipment can be quite expensive, especially for a quality product. On the other hand, you can purchase some equipment off TV ads or special promotions for a very reasonable price, but does the stuff really work? And will it last for more than a few weeks? Most experts recommend that you wait to purchase home fitness equipment until you can afford to purchase something that has good customer satisfaction ratings and is made by a respected fitness equipment manufacturer. Also be aware that some types of equipment cost more than others and may not fit your needs or your budget no matter how long you save.

Consider Your Choices

Once you have assessed your needs and situation, you can evaluate the different types of equipment against your criteria.

Exercise bikes have been around for decades and have improved in design and function over the years. They have been proven to provide weight loss and health benefits if used consistently and correctly. They offer a good cardio workout as well, while limiting impact and injury to knees and other leg joints. They typically do not fold up and can tend to take up space. Exercise bikes fall in the economy or moderate range for price in comparison to other types of home fitness equipment, although some can be quite expensive, especially if they are computerized.

Recumbent exercise bikes, which put users in a slightly reclined position, place less stress on the back and knees but tend to cost more. Some people find the position and motion uncomfortable if they are used to traditional bike riding.

Treadmills are another type of fitness equipment that has been around for some time. They also provide a good cardio workout if properly used, and many come with built in features such as an adjustable platform and computerized workout to help enhance the effects of your exercise routine. There is some jarring and joint stress involved with running, on a treadmill or other surface, so this equipment may not be a good choice for those with knee and hip concerns.

Some treadmills fold up for storage, making them a good choice for those with limited space. Treadmills run the gamut in price range, and can usually fit in any budget, but in most cases you get what you pay for and a very inexpensive model may not be safe or effective.

Elliptical trainers are the latest craze in home fitness equipment. They provide the exercise benefits of walking or running while eliminating the impact on hips, knees, or ankles. This can be good for those with injuries or weakness in those areas. But others who are concerned about building or maintaining bone density may prefer a different type of equipment.

Some elliptical machines fold up to save space when not in use. They generally fall in the mid to higher price range compared to other types of fitness equipment, and again, price often reflects quality.

A stair stepper provides another choice for those who want to burn calories and get a good cardio workout with reduced impact to knees and hips. Stepping height can be adjusted to accommodate different body sizes and fitness levels, however, it can be easy to put too much stress on ankles and back when using a stair stepper. Both size and price are in the moderate range.

Some people prefer the variety and intensity provided by a home gym or weight training station. People are more likely to exercise if they have several different options to choose from, and a selection of different or adjustable equipment provides the opportunity to target all areas of the body. However, home gyms tend to take up more space than other equipment and will almost always cost more for quality equipment. It may also be important to have instructions before using some features of the gym to avoid injury.

There are many other types of home fitness equipment, including free weights, ski machines, ab machines, and hybrids like exercise riders. Be sure to research a piece of equipment before buying and avoid those that make claims that sound too good to be true – they probably are.

Many fitness experts and trainers recommend that you try out a piece of equipment before purchasing to be sure it feels comfortable. If buying online, try to find a gym or exercise store that has the equipment and give it a test ride. Most companies charge shipping and handling to return online orders if you return an item for reasons other than manufacturer defects or damage.

With all the choices for home fitness equipment available, you are sure to find a machine that fits your needs and budget. It just takes a bit of realistic planning.

About the Author:

C.J. Gustafson is a successful writer for your shopping guide for home exercise equipment, complete home gyms, treadmills, ab machines and more

Copyright 2005

Permission is granted to publish this article on your site if the author's byline is included and all 3 links are hyperlinked

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The Power of Stretching    - Dave Snape


Your muscles ache from a good stretch. This is quite
normal and is part of the process. Stretching has
seemingly been with us and particularly with athletes
since the beginning of time.

A very key point to good stretching is to hold the
stretch for at least seventeen seconds. This is a
pearl of wisdom gleaned from a ballet teacher a few
years back. She said that any stretch under 17
seconds was just not effective.

The 17 second rule is exceeded in the high intensity
Bikram's yoga where stretches are held for about 30
seconds. Don't forget the high level of heat that is
used in Bikram's to extract that last little bit of
stretch out of your muscles. An interesting twist that
is not necessary to gain benefits from stretching. But,
it can't hurt, right?

So what kind of benefits can you expect from
stretching? That's an easy one. Have you ever seen the
movie, Blood Sport? Did you know that Frank Dux could
truly stretch his body to the extreme. The actor that
played him was quite elastic as well.

Great elasticity is also something you might see in
well trained Spetsnaz (Russian) agents. They often work
out with Russian kettlebells too. They are for superior
strength gains and the ability to withstand ballistic

Why are stretching and flexibility considered important
to these people? Stretching gives one the ability to
have explosive power available at one's fingertips
without the need to warm up. Of course most of us are
not martial artists or agents. But, you'll be happy to
know there are plenty of other benefits.

Let me give you an example. After learning to sit in
the full lotus position for long periods of time, my
ankles became very flexible. One day I was walking
along and my left foot fell into a pothole. This mishap
pushed my ankle sideways to about 90 degrees from it's
normal position.

Amazingly, this didn't even hurt, not one bit. If my
ankle hadn't been so flexible, I may have suffered a
sprained ankle. At the very least, it would have hurt
for days.

Key point: stretching helps you to avoid injuries.
Not only that but if you do have a muscle, tendon or
ligament injury it should heal faster, theoretically

Stretching actually grows the ligaments, tendons and
muscles being stretched. They really grow longer over

Check with your physician before undertaking any type
of exercise, including stretching.

Here is some good instructional material on stretching:

Dave Snape

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