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 fitness regimen.
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 -- fit.
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 exercise need.
**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
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.