Common Causes Of Pain

Selecting Home Exercise Equipment

People often spend a lot of money on large and extravagant pieces of home exercise equipment because they believe their guilt over spending so much money will force them to use it. On the other hand, you may buy exercise equipment to help you increase your cardiovascular fitness and stay in shape within the comforts and convenience of your own home. Many people choose to exercise indoors to avoid traffic or bad weather and have privacy.

According to the National Sporting Goods Association, in 1997 Americans bought more than $3 billion worth of new exercise equipment including treadmills ($1.49 billion), multi-station home gyms ($268 million), stationary bicycles ($189 million), free weights ($180 million), cross-country ski machines ($83 million), and elliptical (cross-training) machines ($39.7 million).

Some questions to ask before you buy home exercise equipment include:

  • Do you enjoy exercising alone at home? Have you tried it with exercise videos, floor mats, or other small-scale pieces of equipment?
  • Have you considered cheaper alternatives to expensive equipment, such as buying a stand to convert your own street bicycle to a stationary unit or purchasing a set of weights and a bench rather than a weight resistance machine?
  • Have you planned a place to put the item in your home where you will use it? Is the place pleasant, well lit, and well ventilated?
  • Do you already know how to use the type of equipment you are buying? Have you tried it at a health club, gym, or somewhere else?
  • Do you have your doctor's medical clearance if you have an existing condition such as heart disease, low back pain, or arthritis?

Try Before You Buy

Many options are available when you are ready to buy home exercise equipment. Take your time, shop around, and think carefully about what best meets your needs. Never buy exercise equipment on impulse. In fact, you should try out any equipment (wearing exercise clothes) at least several times before you buy.

Types of Equipment

  • Motorized Treadmills - Walking or jogging on motorized treadmills can improve your cardiovascular fitness and your lower body muscle tone. Some models add poles to give you moderate upper body conditioning as well. Most allow you to turn up the speed and increase the incline to intensify your workout. Treadmills made for your home generally range from $400 to $1,500 and from 0.5 horsepower to more than 1.5 horsepower.
  • Stationary Cycles - Many types of stationary cycles are available for a non-impact aerobic workouts. Most come with a digital timer and some have devices to measure your distance, speed, and calories burned and can simulate road, mountain, or racing conditions. You adjust the machine's resistance to intensify your workout. Prices generally range from $100 to $1,200.
  • Stair Climbing Machines - Using stair climbing machines can improve your cardiovascular fitness and leg muscle strength with less stress on your knees than using real stairs. Many come with monitors that display steps per minute, time, and calories burned. Some models let you increase resistance for a better workout. Prices generally range from $200 to $700.
  • Cross-Country Ski Simulators - Cross country ski simulators work both the arms and legs, helping you get the aerobic and muscle-toning benefits of cross-country skiing without leaving the house. The machines have ski-like sliding footpads and rope-and-pulley devices for your arms. Some let you increase the incline for a tougher workout. Monitors record your heart rate. Basic models cost $300 or more.
  • Weight Machines (Home Gyms) - Most home gyms allow you to do a variety of strength-building exercises, including triceps extension, pull down, shoulder press, leg extension, leg curl, chest press, and biceps curl. The machines make it easy to set up and change weights. Prices range from $200 to $3,000.

Using Your Equipment

Some points to keep in mind when using home exercise equipment include:

  • Start slowly and build up your exercise routine gradually over time. If at first you try to do too much, you can hurt yourself and lose the will to continue your routine.
  • Watch your technique. Poor exercise mechanics leads to overuse injuries such as shoulder problems in people who use cross-country ski machines or knee problems in those who use stair climbers.
  • Remember to do warm-up and cool-down flexibility exercises.
  • If using the equipment is painful, stop and rest for at least a day. Adjust the machine to make your exercise less strenuous.
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