Exercise Options To Work Out At Home from the Chicago Sun-Times
Balancing your job, your family, errands and your
favorite Chicago events can make it tough to start -- or stay -- on a regular
But thanks to news reports, magazine articles and
Oprah, most of us know that a regular exercise program should be part of our
everyday lives. Looking and feeling better, building stronger muscles and bones
and having more energy are well-documented benefits of getting -- and staying
For those days when you can't get to your health
club or a Chicago Park District facility, or if working out in one of those
places just isn't for you, consider getting your daily dose of exercise in the
privacy of your own home. A tremendous variety of fitness equipment for the
home is available, and it presents alternatives for just about every budget and
**Be sure to see your doctor before
beginning any new physical activity, and always take appropriate safety
**Regardless of what fitness equipment you
use, reading and following the manufacturer's use and maintenance instructions
is very important.
**If you're not sure what type of
equipment you want, try out several different machines at a local health club
for a day. Lots of health clubs offer free workout passes for potential
customers, or get a guest pass from a friend.
**Not sure which exercises to start with?
Look for beginner-friendly health and fitness magazines at a newsstand or
bookstore. Or, get free, downloadable information online at reputable Web
sites. One place to look: the Education Center page on the American Council on
Exercise's site (www.acefitness.org).
Zero in on your goals and preferences. Do you want
to build muscle? Lose a few pounds? Have more energy to keep up with your kids
or grandkids? Do you prefer running over biking, or using dumbbells over
selectorized machines (i.e., weight machines)?
At one end of the spectrum is home fitness
equipment. If you have the money and inclination to turn part of your home into
your own mini health club, options abound. First, you'll need to determine your
budget, and then how much space you have for equipment. If you have the
financial resources and room for more than one piece of equipment, work with a
specialty fitness equipment dealer who can help you design a layout for your
For cardiovascular exercise, you can choose from
among treadmills, stairclimbers, stationary bicycles or elliptical machines.
Each can provide an excellent cardio workout.
If you run or bike outside already, you might
select a machine other than a treadmill or stationary bike for home use. Why?
Cross-training -- doing different things or varying the intensity of your
workout -- can help the body break through the fitness "plateaus" that occur
when the body gets used to performing the same exercise every day.
Whichever type of equipment you plan to purchase,
trying the equipment before you buy is a good idea. Grab your workout shoes and
head to a specialty fitness equipment store or a health club and test-drive a
few different types of machines, so you can compare comfort, fit and features.
For strength training, several options exist as
well. In general, you'll choose from among free weights, selectorized
equipment, and elastic bands and tubing.
At the other end of the spectrum, plenty of other
items exist around which you can build a home fitness routine. Consider getting
a jump rope, which provides a great cardio workout, or an inflatable exercise
ball, which is inexpensive (usually $20 to $30) and can be used for flexibility
and core strengthening exercises.
If you've never thought of your VCR or DVD player
as fitness equipment, think again. Local bookstores, video retailers, and Web
sites offer a massive range of exercise videos and DVDs, with fitness routines
to suit every interest.
Finally, it's also possible to start your home
fitness program without purchasing any new equipment. Sit-ups and pushups are
great ways to use your body's own weight to strength train and don't require
any machinery at all.
This is one in a series of articles by the
Mayor's Fitness Council, which promotes and encourages the development of a
physically active and healthy lifestyle for Chicagoans of all ages. More
information is available at www.chicagoworksout.com.