Turning your home into a gym

How to get active without spending big dollars

Filled with good intentions about losing weight or improving your health, you may rush to the store and pick up a $1,200 rowing machine or $2,000 treadmill. But if you don’t want it being used as a clothes rack in your closet, take your time. Learn about how to get a good workout first. And start small. “People get tired of one piece of equipment,”says James Goodwin, director of Rehabilitation Therapy for Bartow Regional Medical Center. “Before you know it, it ends up just sitting in the closet.”
After consulting with your doctor, Goodwin advises learning something like dumbbell, rotator cup and/or shoulder exercises, which can be viewed online, on television, or on videos. “Unless you’ve used them (the exercise equipment) or tried them,” he continues, “you’re better off looking at something more economical.” He suggests shopping for elastic bands or five to 10 pound weights.
Beginners with a bigger budget may want to consider an exercise bike, a reasonably priced treadmill, or elliptical (stair stepping) machine.“Get a decent piece of equipment but don’t overspend,” he adds. The bicycle and elliptical have a lower impact on the knees, so these would be preferred for those who are older or heavier.
What’s really important is getting that heart rate up for 20 to 30 minutes a day. “You have to work up to the point where you’re actually pushing yourself a little bit,” Goodwin says.
Pete McCall, exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise (ACE), San Diego,agrees it’s best to start slow.“If you haven’t exercised before, start walking before you spend upwards of $1,000 on a treadmill,” McCall says. He suggests low-cost options like a hula-hoop or jump rope.
Jessica Matthews, continuing education coordinator for ACE, suggests starting with a stability ball you can use to do a variety of exercises strengthening your core muscles. If you want a real bargain, look no further than your body. “Lunges and push-ups are tried and true,” Matthews observes.
What’s really important is your attitude. “It’s just like in rehab, or training, or anything you do: You have to have an attitude that you want to do it,” Goodwin says.
Here are some more economical tips from McCall:

  • An inexpensive pedometer or fitness tracking software for a Smartphone can be helpful reminding you to be active.
  • Body-fat calipers may not be worth your time. If you wonder about that spare tire, pinch your waist.
  • “Scale hugging on a day to day basis” may be demoralizing since you won’t see big losses on a daily basis. “Weighing yourself every 10 days to two weeks may be beneficial. Weighing yourself daily isn’t,” McCall points out.
  • For the cheapest and easiest guide to your success, dig to the back of your closet and pull out your skinny jeans. Try them on just once a week; you’ll see the change over time, and that will be encouragement to stay active.


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