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Simply Fit, by Cindy Haskin-Popp, will help you make physical activity a part of everyday life. The health benefits of regular exercise and overall daily physical activity will be discussed. Fun, practical and easy-to-follow tips on an exercise program will be shared, as will the most current research. Fitness tips for families and seniors, on fitness centers and on buying proper and affordable equipment will be regularly given. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Low-Cost Fitness Gadgets No Home Should Be Without

Jump Rope:
  • Improve cardiovascular fitness
  • Increase power
Cost: $10 and up

What to look for when buying:
  • Choose a rope length that allows you to lift the handles to armpit level when you are standing in the center of the rope. Many jump ropes are adjustable.
  • Foam handles will allow for a more comfortable grip.
  • Handles with ball bearings aid in rotation of the rope, creating a smoother and faster swivel.
Care and Safety Precautions:
  • Frequently check the rope for signs of wear, particularly where rope strikes the ground and at the handles. Replace if wear is evident.
  • Use the jump rope in an open space, free of objects on which the rope can become hooked or tangled. If using indoors, the ceiling of the room in which you are jumping should be high enough that the rope will not strike it.
  • To increase longevity of the rope, avoid frequent use on cement or other rough surfaces.

Stability Ball:
  • build your core strength (abdominal, back, and hip muscles).
  • improve your balance.
  • enhance/maintain your functional movement (ability to perform daily tasks such as lifting grocery bags).
  • a tool for Yoga and Pilates activities.
Cost: $25 and up

What to look for when buying:
  • Stability ball should be made from burst resistant materials.
  • Choose a size that allows you to sit on the ball with your knees bent at 90 degrees and your back straight. Sizes range from 30-85 cm, with 55 cm and 65 cm sizes being the most common.
Care and Safety Precautions:
  • Use the stability ball on surfaces that are smooth, clean, and free of debris or sharp objects.
  • Frequently check the ball for signs of wear and discontinue use and replace if areas of wear are evident.
  • Follow the manufacturer's directions for proper inflation of the stability ball.
  • When cleaning the stability ball, do not use harsh chemicals that could compromise the integrity of the ball's material.

Resistance Tubing:
  • Improve muscular strength and endurance
Cost: $10 and up

What to look for when buying:
  • Tubing from natural rubber latex is more durable due to its strength and elasticity.
  • Choose tubing with handles for ease of grip during use.
  • Choose tubing that offers the proper resistance for your chosen exercise. You should be able to move your joint freely and smoothly through its range of motion while still noting a challenge to your muscles. Leg exercises typically will require a heavier, thicker band, than would arm exercises.
  • Most manufacturers color code their resistance tubing, with the lighter resistance bands being of a light-color and the bands offering greater resistance, colored dark.
Care and Safety Precautions:
  • Frequently check resistance tubing for signs of wear. Discontinue use and replace if tubing is cracked, split, or paler in color in some areas than others.
  • Keep out of sunlight and away from weather exposure/temperature extremes (e.g., cold), which could compromise the integrity of the band.
Handheld Weights:
  • Build muscular strength, endurance, and power.
  • Improve body composition.
  • Body building (increase size of muscle).
  • Increase caloric expenditure during walks.
  • Enhance/maintain functional movement (see Stability Ball uses above).

Cost: typically $1 per pound (e.g., 2-pound weight costs about $2 and 10-pound weight costs about $10)

What to look for when buying:
  • The handle should fit comfortably in your hand and be constructed in such a way as to provide friction for a better grip.
  • Practice various weight-lifting exercises in the store to ensure the purchase of an appropriate weight for your ability. The weight chosen should allow you to complete a set of 8-12 repetitions without straining, but should be challenging.
Care and Safety Precautions:
  • Consider purchasing a dumbbell rack for storage of weights when not in use.
  • Do not drop weights after sets.
  • Remember to breath during exercises (exhale when you exert the force).

Note: Before beginning an exercise program or increasing the intensity level of a current routine, a physician's approval should be obtained, especially for older adults and those at risk for or who currently have chronic health conditions.

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