You know it's important to stay in shape. You've decided to start a new fitness and exercise plan and to invest in some new exercise equipment. You may have many different reasons: training for sports, feeling healthier, or losing weight. With so many choices in exercise, you may be unsure of how to choose the fitness and exercise equipment that will help you reach your goals. This exercise equipment buying guide is designed to help you evaluate your options, choose the exercise that is most appealing, and select the home exercise equipment that will be the most helpful to you.
Your core is the center of your body, also called your trunk or torso. Without core strength, you won't have the flexibility or alertness for other sports. Core training will help you even if you don't play sports.
Core training strengthens the muscles that surround your spine: stomach, lower back, pelvis, and hips.
Core training relieves back pain and protects your spine from injuries.
Core fitness allows your upper body to work more fluidly with your lower body, giving you better posture and improved balance.
Core training helps the organs in your torso function better.
Core training aids in brain and nervous system support, so a core workout helps your concentration.
An exercise ball is a versatile tool for a core workout. The term "exercise ball" refers to any inflated, vinyl ball used for fitness. Exercise balls require an air pump; many come with one. As an exercise ball deflates, it can become more stable, but keeping it filled will allow you to get the most out of your core workout. The dimensions are usually measured in centimeters.
45cm for a person under 5 feet tall
55cm for a person 5 feet 1 inch to 5 feet 8 inches tall
65cm for a person 5 feet 9 inches to 6 feet 2 inches tall
75cm for a person 6 feet 3 inches to 6 feet 7 inches tall
85cm for a person 6 feet 8 inches and taller
An exercise mat will give you some padding during your core workout. Exercise mats can range from small, thin yoga mats to large, padded gymnastics mats, but average exercise mats are made out of a rubberized plastic. Choose the size based on which exercise you do. If you'd like some padding while you do sit-ups, you can choose a small exercise mat, about 24 inches wide and 68 inches long. If you need an area for aerobics, you'll need a larger exercise mat, around 3 feet wide and 4 to 6 feet long.
An exercise trampoline, also called an aerobic rebounder, allows you to work on your coordination and stamina. Most exercise trampolines are about 40 inches wide; this width is sufficient for nearly all body sizes. If you are a beginner or you need a little help with stability, choose an exercise trampoline with a stabilizing bar.
Strength training uses weights or a weight machine to exercise. This kind of weight training can help you build and tone muscles.
When your muscles are in shape, your lean muscle will burn fat even while you rest.
Strength training will help you to perform better as an athlete.
Weight training will reduce pain and risk of injury.
Strength training helps to reduce your risk of developing many diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis.
Some studies have concluded that weight training can reduce depression.
Free weights can easily be added to your workout. Pick up some dumbbells or other hand weights to hold while you are walking, jogging, or stair climbing. Strap on a pair of leg weights or a weighted vest and maximize the time you spend on a treadmill, elliptical machine, or exercise bike.
Make weights the focus of your workout with a weight machine. Strength training machines let you lift, pull, and twist your muscles into perfect form.
For a full-body workout, try boxing, kickboxing, or mixed martial arts (also known as MMA). Boxing and boxing-type sports help strengthen your upper and lower body while working your cardiovascular system.
Boxing can give you powerful muscles, particularly in your back, arms, and legs.
The movement of boxing is an aerobic workout, helping you develop a strong heart.
Even when you only punch a bag, boxing can help you develop self-defense skills and confidence.
Sparring with a partner will help you increase your reaction time.
Boxing allows you to relieve stress and anger while improving your physique.
Boxing gloves and hand wraps are essential to protecting your hands. Boxing gloves come in different weights; the heavier a glove is, the more protection it will provide.
10 ounce gloves are used in most professional boxing matches.
12 ounce gloves and 14 ounce gloves are good for beginners.
16 ounce gloves are standard sparring size.
18 ounce and 20 ounce sizes are heavy and safe, but may be unwieldy for people with smaller hands.
A boxing bag will give you a target when you don't have a boxing partner. When you do have a sparring partner, safety gear such as helmets, ankle wraps, shin guards, and belly guards are important, especially when you are practicing sports that are variations on boxing.
When Joseph Pilates created his "Contrology" fitness system to help rehabilitate soldiers after World War I, he didn't know that, almost a century later, it would be one of the most popular ways to exercise. If you need some help getting started, be sure to pick up a Pilates video or a Pilates DVD so you can see how to do each move correctly. Good form is essential to Pilates.
Pilates focuses on strengthening your core muscles, giving you the benefits of a core workout.
Pilates promotes physical discipline, allowing you to better integrate your mind and body through precision exercises.
You'll feel taller because Pilates helps improve your posture.
The stretching movements of Pilates will help you develop flexibility.
Pilates can give you a flatter stomach because you focus on working your abdominal muscles.
Because most Pilates exercise done at home is performed on the floor, you'll want to start with a Pilates mat. A Pilates mat is usually more padded than a yoga mat, but is about the same size, about 24 inches wide and 54 to 68 inches long.
Unlike other exercise balls, a Pilates ball is small, and it is meant to be held during workouts, either in your hands or between your knees. A Pilates ball can also be used for massaging your muscles.
If you find that you love doing Pilates at home, you may want to invest in a reformer. A Pilates reformer will cost a few hundred dollars, but it will help you perform the stretches the way that Joseph Pilates intended: smoothly and precisely.
Yoga is an ancient Eastern Indian practice rooted in spiritualism. Part meditation and part fitness, a yoga workout helps you strengthen your body and mind. Yoga relies almost entirely on your own body, so your yoga kit only needs a few items. Pick up a new yoga DVD or yoga video along with your yoga kit, so you can learn the moves and easily get started.
The stretching done in yoga alleviates strain that can be caused by sitting at a desk all day or by poor posture.
Many people find that they feel taller because their posture is improved by yoga.
Because your body will be more flexible and strong from yoga, you can prevent injuries.
The gentle movements of yoga allow your muscles to flush out toxins, helping improve your energy.
Yoga focuses on integrating your mind with your body and developing a mental awareness of your physical being, allowing you to better take care of your needs.
The breathing exercises and meditative qualities of yoga help relieve mental stress and allow you to think clearly.
To increase the stability of your yoga workout, you will need a yoga mat. Yoga mats are made of a thin material that will stay in place on the floor but should not stick to your feet too much, so you can move freely. Choose a yoga mat that is washable, as you will be sweating on it.
A yoga ball can be used for seated yoga poses. Choose a yoga ball the same way you choose an exercise ball.
Yoga blocks can help novices with balance. Reaching the floor is a bit easier when you just need to reach the block, which is usually about three or four inches thick.