What to think about before you buy home exercise equipment.

Regular exercise is among the most important things people of all ages can do to improve their health. Even as little as 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity like brisk walking has substantial physical and mental health benefits. Despite these benefits, only about one third of adults meet minimum physical activity guidelines.


One commonly cited reason why people don’t get regular exercise is time. Obviously, you need to make time in your day, even if it is for a short walk. There are some short (less than 10 minute) workouts that are popular now, but these tend to be very intense and may not be appropriate for everyone. You may also need time to travel to a place to exercise, whether that is a gym or a good area for walking. After a workout you might need to shower and change, too. The point is, even a short exercise session can take time beyond the exercise itself.


That leads some people to consider purchasing home exercise equipment so they can skip the trip to the gym and exercise at home. There are numerous options for equipment specific for strength and endurance training in your own home. This is the topic of my Health & Fitness column in the Aiken Standard this week.

Home treadmill

You can do most of the basic resistance exercises you can do at a gym at home using dumbbells or elastic bands. Elastic resistance bands, in particular, are an inexpensive and convenient way to “lift weights” at home. Most sets that include dumbbells or elastic bands also contain instructions for safe and effective training and there are many apps and online videos that demonstrate exercises.


Treadmills, stationary cycles, and elliptical trainers are popular for cardio training at home. There are affordable options for home use, but be aware that they are not likely to be as sturdy as what you find at the gym. It is smart to try out different machines before you buy, and consult reviews to find equipment that is reliable.


While exercise at home can be convenient, you lose the accountability of working out with others or going to the gym. Additionally, home exercise equipment only works if you use it, so don’t hide it in a closet or a corner in the basement; keep it in a place where it is convenient for you to use. You don’t want it to become an expensive coat rack!


Using indoor exercise equipment like a treadmill can certainly help you improve your fitness, but it doesn’t replace actually going outdoors and walking. Especially as we get older, the ability to walk over ground on uneven surfaces is essential to completing activities of daily living and maintaining independence.


Also know that you don’t actually need any equipment to get a good workout at home. Body weight exercises like push-ups, lunges, and pull-ups are also effective for improving strength and require minimal equipment. Videos of home training programs can be helpful, but make sure you pick something that is appropriate for your fitness level. There is a popular 7-minute workout that you can do at home with nothing more than a chair or bench. And you can get aerobic exercise by going for a brisk walk, jogging, or cycling outdoors.


The bottom line is that home exercise equipment can make it more convenient to work out. But, depending on what you buy, it can also be expensive and you still need motivation to use it. Whether you exercise at home alone or at the gym with others, the most important thing is to make exercise a priority every day!

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