This week finds me fitness minded after several conversations on the topic, with more to come. When I say fit, I don't mean simply being thin. I'm talking about having stamina, endurance, flexibility, strength and healthy organ, muscle and adrenal function. Regular exercise, complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and proper hydration all lead to this, but you get healthy and fit, long before you get thin, so focus on the right numbers that nothing to do with the scale. Here are a few of my favorite fitness gadgets and gizmos.
1. Pedometers: This is the number one go-to gadget out there. It's small, simple to use, inexpensive to own, and immediate feedback on your activity for the day. There is absolutely nothing else out there that beats the sheer accessibility of using a pedometer daily and building your steps.
2. Stationary Bike: Whether upright or recumbant, stationary bikes allow for intense cardio that doesn't require you to be able to stand for extended periods of time. It also saves stress on your knees and back. Recumbant bikes are especially good for back issues, but they do cause you to lose a slight bit of pedaling intensity with change in angle to compensate for that.
3. Elliptical: Gentle on joints and able to mimic running for knees that will never do so, ellipticals are a dream machine when properly adjusted to height and stride. Unless you're following a pre-programmed routine, intensity can lag, but like anything, you get out what you put in.
4. Treadmill: Adjustable treadmills are fabulous. I have shin issues that keep me off of them for now, but there is nothing like an inclined treadmill for the back of the thighs and the glutes. Interesting fact that anyone who's been on a treadmill can relate to: they were original built for prisoners as a punishment. *grin*
5. Balance Ball: I swear by my balance ball. It improves posture, works the core through simply active sitting, and supports the back during strength training and crunches. It also allows for several modifications to exercises like lunges, squats and planks to make them via to a larger audience.
6. Free Weights: I don't have any right now, they were left behind when we moved, but I love dumbbells. There's something real and solid about having a weight in your hand and seeing the number get larger as you get stronger. No amount of color coding or cord numbering with machines can replace the sense of accomplishment of working with real weights.
7. Weight Lifting Gloves: Yes, even with your tiny 5lb weights, a good pair of gloves is the difference between calloused, sore hands, and hands that are supported during your workout. Lightly padded gloves are great to keep you from gripping the weight too tightly.
8. Door Gyms: Sometimes real weights aren't an option due to safety issues or convenience. Adjustable door gyms can take you all the places that a set of weights can and they can do it anywhere you have a standard door. They have the smoothness of machines with the portability of fitness bands.
9. Heart Rate Monitor: These come in all makes and models and you can benefit from even the simplest design. Not only does it allow you to gauge your intensity, but it is a direct measure of your fitness improvement as well. From your resting heart rate, to your 80% max, a good HRM can guide you on your fitness path like little else.
10. A Bodyfat Scale: If you're going to get caught up in the numbers, then have all the numbers. Bf scales aren't as accurate as going to the doctor or a fitness center, but with a good scale, the numbers will be consistant and you can monitor changes in body composition that aren't going to show up on a regular scale.
11. Pilates Equipment: Pilates is a great way to stretch, build strength and work the core, all in a gentle, but continuous routine. Mat pilates is great, but eventually you'll need some sort of resistance equipment to keep pilates challenging. These are as simple as cords, similar to powerbands, or as complicated as dedicated pilates machines that take up an entire room. I suggest the Pilates Power Gym or something similiar. It's like a mini version of the Total Gym, but constructed with pilates in mind. It takes up little room and allows for marked progression in strength and flexibility.
12. DVD Routines: I prefer to workout at home and dvds offer a wide variety of options from walking routines, to bellydancing, to Tai Chi, to Tae Bo. You can walk, kick, punch and shimmy your way to great health, all in the privacy of your own home.
13. Great Shoes: I'm a New Balance girl myself and I hear wonderful things about Ryka, but any brand that gives you proper support and won't break your budget is a good choice. That said, make sure to expand your budget as much as you can, proper shoes are an investment that will keep you from spending even more to rehab an injury.
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