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Ready to Exercise? Take It Inside

Exercising at home can be just as effective and enjoyable as taking a walk or a bike ride outdoors. It can also save you time and money compared with joining a health club or gym. What's important is to have equipment that works well for you.

Here are some guidelines that can help you make the right choice when shopping for gear.

Take a test run

Decide what type of exercise equipment you are looking for, then give yourself plenty of time to shop around. It is important to use any piece of equipment before you buy it. Many stores have floor models that you can operate. Stay on the machine for a few minutes to make sure it is easy to use. If your family will be using the equipment, you may want to give family members a turn on it to make sure it is user-friendly for everybody.

Before you make your decision, go back and try the equipment a few times, and consider these questions:

  • Is the machine comfortable? For example, with a stationary bike, make sure that you can reach the handlebars and pedals easily and that the seat is adjustable. A treadmill should be sturdy and big enough for your longest stride.

  • Can the equipment fit through the doorway at your home? How much space will it take up? Measure the doorways of your home and the space in which you plan to use your new purchase. Bring the tape measure to the store, and measure the equipment. Will you be able to move around the room once the equipment is set up? How will it look there?

  • Do you have the type of power supply needed? Some home exercise equipment requires a special electrical supply or outlet.

Money and value

Make sure the equipment will stand up to wear and tear. If you are deciding between two similar machines, buy the one with the better service warranty. Also, find out if the store provides in-home repair service, so you won't have to lug the equipment back to the store or to a service center if it needs to be repaired.

What equipment is right for you?

Answer these questions before you buy home exercise equipment:

  • What do you enjoy using? If you like to bicycle, shop for a stationary bike. If you prefer walking or running, consider a treadmill.

  • What are your goals? For aerobic training or weight loss, a stationary bicycle, treadmill, stair climber or ski machine is a good bet. To strengthen and tone muscles, shop for free-weights or a weight machine.

  • What is your budget? How much are you willing to spend? Keep in mind that you will ideally have this equipment for years to come.

No matter what equipment you choose, be sure to check with your health care provider before beginning an exercise program.