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.

Walking My Way to Good Health

Walking To Health and Weight LossWith the rise of commentaries in the news and on documentaries about the high levels of obesity in North America it is no wonder people are getting out more, eating less, and taking conscious steps to control their weight.

Walking is an excellent first step on your way to better health. How can I be sure? Because conscious walking (with a pedometer tracking my every step) I lost the pregnancy weight and put myself into the best shape I’d ever been in at 30 years of age. I also walked off two years of depression (and the associated eating that comes with that illness) induced weight gain (to the tune of 45 pounds) in my mid-40s.

At neither time in my life did I feel like exercising – heck I didn’t even want to walk to the store if I could help it – but I forced myself for the first 2 weeks and after that I had a new healthy habit that I didn’t want to ever give up.

Honestly, it helps to have a pedometer to get and stay motivated. Not only will it chart your progress and push you onto new personal ‘bests’ but it feels like a treat. Somewhat like a gym membership except not as expensive, you can even ‘guilt’ yourself into making good use of your new purchase. Some days that guilt worked for me and some days it didn’t but I still love and use my pedometers today – one is very basic and over 12 years old, the other is an MP3 model purchased just 6 months ago.

So what happens while you are walking your way to health and how can an exercise so simple accomplish so much?

Well, when we walk, we are working muscles and joints. As muscles tone they burn more of the calories we put into our bodies and therefore less fat is stored. Less fat on your body is healthier all round.

Your joints on the other hand require flexibility. If they don’t have this flexibility, pain and inflammation are the result. Exercise that uses and strenthens your joints helps to prevent arthritis, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, gout and more.

More health benefits? Walking also reduces the risks of heart attack, strokes and diabetes.

Walk Your Way to Fitness

Walking Leads to Weight Loss Which Leads to More Challenging Aerobic ExerciseIf you are currently carrying some extra weight or have trouble with your knees, ankles or hips, walking with a pedometer is a sure fire way to get back to a comfortable fitness level. Walking? You do it every day right? You walk when you’re running errands, tidying the house, or during regular work routines – but walking for fitness is just a little different and it can help you lose weight, increase muscle tone and live a longer life. You just need a way to measure your current daily steps and chart a path to success with a simple pedometer.

Don’t think that just because you want to get into shape you have to join an aerobics class or start an exercise routine that is difficult and could cause you more harm than help you. Yes, aerobic exercise can be enjoyable but it may be too much, too fast, for your system and joints if you’re already carrying a few extra pounds. Being fit has more to do with regularly exercising and reaping the benefits that make you feel good about yourself.

Just walking daily for 30 consecutive minutes will give you outstanding results in minimal time. Although sometimes we measure this in total steps for the day with a pedometer you can count on adding a few thousand extra steps to your day to reach your goals. This doesn’t need to be strenuous. Walking is a great way to rebuild muscle and tone your heart. Fitness experts will all agree that walking is the perfect exercise on the path to high health.

Fitness experts and gurus aside I think you’ll also find that walking is something that almost all doctors will recommend as well. You won’t have to spend money on expensive equipment, you can do it anywhere (even in the comfort of your own home) and the weather won’t even be able to affect or deter you from your commitment to fitness. Walking is also perfect for pre-conditioning your body for more intense aerobic exercise.

Begin with a pace that you are comfortable with but as brisk as possible so that you will burn unwanted fat while flushing out toxins through perspiration. If you cannot manage 30 minutes a day of brisk walking then start with three 10 minute walks per day. You’ll lose weight, increase your energy level, lower your blood pressure, increase your metabolism and strengthen your heart.

Once taking 30 minutes walks are no longer a challenge for you, look around for an aerobic exercise you might enjoy. Cycling is a fantastic next step and can also be performed in the solitude and safety of your own home, in any weather.

Whichever path you choose, always set a new goal as you near the last one. This keeps you motivated and you can celebrate as you move into the next level of fitness.

Add Some Steps to Your Day!

I know, I know. 10,000 steps a day to maintain your physical condition or 15,000 steps a day to lose weight and firm up sounds like a lot at first, but strap on a pedometer and go about your day and you’d be surprised how many steps you actually take even when you’re not trying.

Once you’ve counted and measured the steps you already take with a pedometer, here are some ways to add more steps to your day…Strap on a pedometer and get moving. How to add steps to your day.

  • Hand deliver office memos or walk down the hall to a co-worker’s office.
  • Take a lover’s walk, in the park, even if it’s raining.
  • Take the stairs – even if this means you need to get off the elevator a few floors early.
  • Walk up the escalator in malls and subways.
  • Park farther from the office, the grocery store, or the shopping mall.
  • Walk the kids to school instead of driving them.
  • Take the dog for a walk instead of just letting him outside the back door.
  • Take your designated breaks at work and walk around the building or city block as many times as time allows.
  • Do your grocery shopping in the order you have items listed, instead of going aisle-by-aisle.
  • Take the kids to the park and either run around with them or walk laps around the play area while they play on the swings and slides.

By adding steps to your day you are essentially increasing your level of fitness and burning more calories. Every little bit moves you closer to your goal whether it be a fitness goal or a weight loss goal.

The American Medical Association states that by increasing activity, you will also:

  1. Increase stamina.
  2. Stimulate weight loss.
  3. Lower blood cholesterol.
  4. Lower blood pressure.
  5. Improve self image.
  6. Improve mood.
  7. Enhance quality of life.

And it that’s not enough to get you moving more with your pedometer, the AMA also says you will:

  1. Sleep better.
  2. Strengthen your heart and lungs.
  3. Decrease stress levels and the effects of stress.
  4. Increase your energy.
  5. Maintain appropriate weight.
  6. Lower triglycerides.
  7. Control blood sugar levels (and risks of diabetes).
  8. Feel better.
  9. Reduce feelings of depression and anxiety.
  10. Improve productivity in all areas of your life.
  11. Build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints.
  12. Increase muscle tone.
  13. Reduce risk of dying prematurely.

Really? It’s a win/win situation. A pedometer strapped onto your waist inspiring you to move around more often and in no time you’ll be looking better, feeling better, plus all the benefits above.

Your new life begins today! A healthier, longer, and no doubt happier, life!