The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Home Exercise Equipment

Caution: Be sure to consult your diabetes care team before starting any new exercise program or increasing the intensity of your current routine.

Sales of home exercise equipment have increased tremendously in the past 20 years

| Sep 1, 2005

Clinical adviser’s note: Keep in mind that a properly fitted pair of athletic shoes designed for your planned type of exercise (walking, running, cross-training or step aerobics, for example) may well be your most important and cost-effective exercise equipment purchase.

In 1982 sales were $723 million; today’s figures are past the $4 billion mark as individuals seek out the convenience of training at home. The most popular items include treadmills, stationary bicycles, stair climbers and weight training systems.

Aerobic exercise requires the use of the large muscle groups; walking, cycling, rowing, swimming and stepping are all forms of aerobic exercise. A good rule of thumb for the purchase of home exercise equipment is to approach it as if you were buying a car. Do the same kinds of homework and research to make sure you buy the right kind equipment to meet your needs and that you will make good use your purchase. Visit a health club and take your equipment for a “test drive.” Be willing to spend the money for the right piece of equipment.

Treadmills provide effective lower-body and cardiovascular training with a natural walking or running motion that involves less impact than walking or running on most outdoor surfaces. A good motor-driven treadmill will cost a minimum of $500, with most health club models running about $1,000 to $15,000, depending on the power, grade accommodations and other bells and whistles.

Stationary bicycles provide effective non-impact cardiovascular and lower-body training. A disadvantage is that for the inexperienced cyclist leg fatigue may limit training before cardiovascular fatigue is reached. A good exercise cycle will cost between $200 and $800, with computerized models running anywhere from $500 to $5,000.

Stair climbers provide effective lower-body training with impact to the feet and ankles similar to jogging. Stair climbers cost between $200 and $4,000, with most home models at about $500. Programmable units may cost as much as $5,000.

Elliptical trainers are designed to exercise the whole body, incorporating smooth, natural movements. Elliptical trainers are popular as they eliminate the awkward and jarring movements associated with other types of equipment, and they provide a low-impact workout for the lower body. The cost for elliptical trainers is between $1,000 and $5,000 with some health club models costing as much as $15,000.

I have many friends with home exercise equipment now serving as very expensive coat racks. Ultimately, the best equipment purchase will be the one that you will use regularly for a lifetime of fitness and health. So do your homework and make a good choice that meets your personal requirements. Have fun with your home exercise equipment, and we’ll see you “on the go”!

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Categories: Exercise

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