How to Choose Exercise Equipment


Okay – you finally decided to do it. You are going to start your exercise program, lose those unwanted, extra pounds, begin your journey down the road to better health. After consulting your friends and family “experts,” you have finally decided to choose a piece of home exercise equipment. But which one?

First of all, there are too many choices and styles of exercise machines to keep track of and so my advice usually goes only as far as recommending certain types of machines. Here are some simple tips on how to choose exercise equipment.

In general, the easiest form of exercise is walking. Assuming that you are in generally good health and have discussed your exercise program with your physician, you may find that a motorized treadmill at home lets you walk inside without worrying about the weather and is more convenient.

I recommend “motorized” treadmills versus “nonmotorized” treadmills. The difference is that non-motorized treadmills force you to walk with an unnatural gait, leaning forward against the handlebars in order to push the belt. Non-motorized treadmills are cheaper, but the old adage “you get what you pay for” certainly applies here.

You can get a cheaper exercise machine, but you will probably find that it is more difficult to use and unsuitable for anything much faster than a walk. If you are going to use your treadmill for jogging or running, you will need a maximum speed of at least 6 mph, a larger belt width, and the freedom to swing your arms.

Exercise bikes offer a good work out for a good value. A good exercise bike will cost at least $300 and are available in two general styles: regular upright bikes and recumbent bikes. “Recumbent” bikes are set up so that you sit on a seat that is wider and more comfortable than an upright bike.

Most models of this exercise equipment feature a seat like a car’s bucket seat with the pedals in front of you rather than underneath you as on an upright bike. If you find upright bikes and their seats uncomfortable, a recumbent bike may be for you.

Both styles should offer easily adjusted seat height or length and resistance. They should be smooth in operation and very sturdy.

A relative newcomer to the exercise equipment market are the “Exercise Riders.” Models such as the “CardioGlide” and “HealthRider” feature a padded seat and foot pegs or pedals and handlebars which are pulled back as the pedals are pushed forward. The seat goes up as the legs are straightened out. You are using your body weight as the exercise resistance.

These exercise machines are more expensive, but they offer the ability to exercise both upper and lower extremities. In general, even at the lowest setting, this type of exercise equipment may be too challenging for some people.

Another tip: Before spending your hard earned money on TVs hottest exercise equipment, consult a reputable consumer’s magazine (like Consumer Reports) for a rating of exercise equipment and more detailed information.

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