The Right Fitness Equipment for You

When I first started on my quest to get into shape I bought DVDs, running shoes, a pedometer, a treadmill, and had to hold myself back from purchasing all the late-night advertised fad equipment on television. Now that I’m in shape I realize that I could have saved myself a lot of money if I’d just started out with some good shoes and a pedometer.

If you’re just starting out on your own weight loss or quest for fitness, you’re probably in the same boat. Which equipment should you buy? Which is the best deal? Which will be the most suitable for your goals and current level of fitness? After all I’m sure you’ve heard the stories of friends buying expensive treadmills only to have it collect dust and laundry in their bedrooms for years afterward.

For these reasons, choosing the right fitness equipment is for you is an important topic to consider. We can save a lot of our time and money by doing a little bit of research and understanding our goals before we whip our our wallets.

So let’s have a look at the various types of equipment and see how they fit with your budget and your workout style.

Home Weight Set

If you want to burn off fat and tone your muscles you’ll need to incorporate some weight training into your exercise routine. However you might not be ready for, or have room for, a full bench set. You can start small with just a few dumbbells in various weights to strengthen arms and abdominal muscles. These workouts help with posture and balance and your body’s ability to burn fat (metabolism). Light weights are also a good place to start in your fitness regime as nothing is more pleasing than seeing your arms toning up and your pants fitting looser as your abs get toned.

Treadmills

Out of my top 10 friends I think I am the only one to use my treadmill regularly. The treadmill helps you to run or walk while staying in one place during inclement weather, potentially dangerous outdoor surroundings, or if you just want to exercise in solitude. Running or walking on a treadmill is an effective way to get your daily 10,000 steps in easily. You can watch television while you walk or run, you can surf the web, or you can crank it up and run hard without the shock and strain on your ankles, knees and lower back. Make sure you have tried a treadmill before you buy one though. In my experience people either love them or hate them – and I don’t want to see you spending $1,000 or more on a piece of equipment that does nothing but make you feel guilty for not using it.

Rowing Machines

Rowing machines aren’t my favorite fitness equipment but many of my friends swear by them. They offer the benefit of an all-over workout with minimal joint impact. In fact they are excellent for the clinically obese and senior citizens. You can start at an easy pace and as your grow stronger, increase your row speed. Fast rowing is great for burning off calories and increasing your heart rate while strengthening your arms, abdomen, back and shoulder muscles.

Stationary Exercise Bikes

They’re everywhere and they come in all sizes and price ranges. You’ll find old ones at yard sales or even in your parents basement, as they are one of the best low-impact cardiovascular machines available. These exercise bikes don’t do much for your arm strength or toning but they are great for your heart and legs. You can watch television while exercising and you don’t have to worry about getting hit by a car or inclement weather. Stationary bikes are easy on your joints and are perfect for people who have more than 20 pounds to lose. Most bikes have varying levels of difficulty so you can crank up the workout as you become more fit.

Pedometers

My pedometer has been my best fitness friend for years. It keeps me accountable for activity during the day and inspires me to get walking on less active days. This is one purchase that I have never regretted. Even today I own a few different models and keep one in my purse, one in the car and one in the house – charged up and ready to go whenever and where ever I am.

A Custom Walk-for-Weight-Loss Program

Walking Program - Trails and BoardwalksWinter, spring, summer or fall – it doesn’t seem to matter what the season is, there always seems to be a few pounds we’d love to lose. In the spring, there seems to be more – especially when we’re pulling out our summer wardrobe.

So let’s get walking shall we? Somewhere in your drawers you probably have a pedometer. If you don’t have a feature rich one like my favorites (below and at right) then you’ve at least got an application on your phone or MP3 player that will do for now. However, how do you plan a custom program to drop the pounds while walking?

I’m hoping this article will get you started.

Although walking will help you with weight loss to get the most out of it you’ll want to walk long enough to burn calories, tighten muscles and increase your metabolism.

To begin focus on steps taken (distance) before you focus on aerobic or heart rate (speed). You want to ease yourself back into fitness and not burn out before re-establishing good habits, routine and form.

And don’t worry about not getting enough effect for the time you’re investing early on in your program. You can burn nearly the same amount of calories with a long, slow walk as you can with a short, fast walk. It is all about consistency of the day at any stage of your program. For instance, there will be some days that you want to take a long and leisurely walk (think Saturday mornings on the beach boardwalk). While on other days you may want to power walk, burn up a lot of energy and calories, and really get your heart pumping and your metabolism in full swing (think of early morning walks before an intense staff meeting at the office).

The intensity or lack of isn’t really what matters when you’re just starting out as long as you are happy and comfortable and consistently getting out there. Make a minimum of 5 days a week, 30 to 60 minutes per day, your focus and let your energy level determine intensity of the day.

A word or two about the ‘stroll’. For maximum health, weight and cardiovascular benefits, you will want to make sure that you are walking quickly enough to increase your heart rate for the majority of the walk, so when I say ‘stroll’ I really mean something just a little under a power walk. The experts will tell you that for weight loss you should be walking 30 to 60 minutes at 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate once your fitness level demands it.

Once you have established a routine of 5 days per week you might want to increase your pace, change your route, add some ankle or wrist weights, or change your walking style (see my previous article for walking ‘tricks’ to keep you motivated).

A Pedometer Helps You Increase Daily Exercise Levels

Newest pedometer on the market: The Philips ActivaThe vast majority of us detest the thought of exercise – yet we all want to be in better shape. Not exercising regularly can result in weight gain and resulting health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.

When you get that feeling that it might be time to start exercising again or regularly you consider the options – perhaps a gym membership, a piece of fitness equipment for the home, or taking up a new physical hobby. Beginning a workout program doesn’t have to be costly or difficult though. In fact, starting a new program is the easy part, sticking to it is where the difficultly arrives.

Overall the easiest way to get more exercise without the expense is to increase your walking. Again, easy to say you’ll do it but without a walking partner or a plan it may all fall by the wayside until your doctor notices health complications due to obesity. Don’t let it get that far! You can do this now and a simple pedometer can be accountability partner – keeping you on track, moving forward and increasing your steps on a daily basis.

A pedometer can be purchased with a variety of different features. Some are designed primarily for the walking or jogging group of fitness-minded people. Others are designed for cardio workouts. A pedometer will come in ranges from the very simple, basic pedometer (a step counter) to the more sophisticated model that has a range of other functions. The most well received ‘extra’ in the world of pedometer upgrades in the last 10 years has been those with the ability to transfer statistics directly to your personal computer through your USB port.

Aside from all the bells and whistles of the more advanced models, a pedometer helps you reach your goal to become more fit and perhaps to lose some weight.

A pedometer is a gadget to help you track the number of steps you take. By targeting a realistic daily step rate you will walk more and as a result increase your fitness and lose weight. Trials have shown that wearing a pedometer is helpful in increasing the number of calories burned. 26 studies, reviewed in the Journal of American Medicine, showed that the use of a pedometer was effective in increasing how much participants walked every day. A typical study concluded that step rates were increased by around 2000 steps compared to participants not using a pedometer. Two thousand steps is roughly equivalent to an extra mile walked each day and a 25% increase in activity. This is a considerable difference and would have a major influence on the participants health and weight.

An important consideration to to remember is to set reasonable goals. Setting a step target every day was shown to have a major effect on the amount of physical activity achieved. Those participants who managed to keep up their target showed a marked increase in activity and benefited more by showing increases in fitness which included a reduction in weight and blood pressure. On the other hand cholesterol and blood sugar levels seem to be unchanged.

The use of a pedometer can be a huge help in increasing the level of physical activity without having to join a gym. By making daily increases in the number of steps you take you will reap the rewards of a healthy weight and improved fitness levels. A simple pedometer is the easy way to monitor these benefits, get yours today.

A Pedometer That’s Right for You

How to choose the right pedometer - best for you.
Choosing the best pedometer can be as difficult as selecting which path to take...

You already know that you want a pedometer you just don’t know which one is right for your needs. With thousands of styles and nearly as many options making the right decision on a pedometer that you’ll be happy with for years starts to look like a daunting, day long, research task.

This article should help you narrow down your choices based on features and your personality type. Since a number of options are now available in these fitness tools at the best prices we’ve seen in years, you should be able to find the perfect one for you, at the best price, as simple or complex as you need it. Remember that a pedometer is a great motivator – if you love the one you own you’ll be more apt to wear it, set personal fitness goals with it, and get into the shape you deserve.

You will walk more or at the very least be more apt to take more steps throughout the day while wearing a pedometer. Even more so if you really like your pedometer, the features, the design. Taking those extra steps is the difference between losing weight and just staying where you are – or worse, steadily gaining weight as our metabolisms slow down with age. Your pedometer is like your conscience, it will motivate you to take the stairs instead of the elevator, to walk down the hall instead of making that phone call, or to walk the dog instead of just opening the back the door and letting him out into the yard.

So let’s start by organizing the pedometers by personality. The May/June 2006 issue of Weight Watchers Magazine was one of the first to classify pedometers this way and it has helped a lot of people over the years to choose the pedometer that was just right for them.

Four years later, we’re at it again on Pedometers.org…

We’ll start with the basic six and add more based on your comments (leave a comment below if you feel the list lacks your personality type in any way).

  • Pedometers for Music-loving Walkers
  • Pedometers for Overweight Walkers
  • Pedometers for Cardio-conscious Walkers
  • Pedometers for Cross-trainers and Advanced Walkers
  • Pedometers for Walkers on a Budget
  • Pedometers for Techie Walkers

Pedometers for Music-Loving Walkers

Over the years there have been many pedometers released by just as many companies and very few have been successfully received by the new walking-for-fitness or the more experienced walking-fit. In fact for those who prefer to have music in their ears rather than city noise or the buzz of mosquitoes, the IPOD nano (which – 5th Generation – also doubles as a Pedometer) is likely your best choice. The pedometer bundled within the Nano uses the built-in accelerometer to keep track of your steps. Set a daily step goal or leave it on all the time so that it counts every step you take.

For the walking-fit group you can beef up your running and gym exercise controls with add-ons such as: Rock and Run – strap on your Nike shoes and they’ll ‘talk’ to your IPOD Nano pedometer. You can keep an eye on minutes ran, miles covered, and get real-time voice feedback to your workouts. Rock the Gym is a similar feature for fitness enthusiasts who work out at a gym. The iPod nano plus a Nike / iPod compatible cardio machine records pace, time, and distance you’ve worked out at every session.

Finally…when you return home you simply connect your Nano to your MAC or PC and iTunes will automatically send your workout data to the Nike Server -stored securely for as long as you want. Nike will also recommended new fitness challenges for you based on your current level, create custom training programs for you and suggest maps of new routes to try. A social networking feature is also prevalent on the site so you can meet and be inspired by people of like minds worldwide.

Check Pedometers.org Reviews for Pedometer MP3 Players

Pedometers for Overweight Walkers

…coming soon…

The Best Pedometer for Techie Walkers

Top 5 Pedometer Reviews for Cardio-Conscious Walkers

Best Pedometer for Cross-Trainers and Advanced Walkers

Pedometers for Budget-Conscious Walkers