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Ask the Experts: Fitness Information
1. Overcome Exercise Plateaus & Boredom with Cross Training
Human beings are creatures of habit. Whether it’s the ritual café latte to start the day of devotion to a special TV program, people create routines that guarantee a series of small pleasures of comfort. Though routine can bring a sense of order to life in an increasingly chaotic world, it can be counterproductive when working out – following the same exercise regimen over and over not only gets boring, but can lead to exercise plateaus that can decrease results.
"The human body is very good at adapting to the stresses it experiences," says Lisa Packheiser, a certified athletic trainer, and a member of the Life Fitness Training Academy Network. "Performing the same activity repeatedly at the same level makes the body more efficient, which eventually results in lower caloric expenditure from the activity. In fact, research shows that by sticking to just one activity, the number of calories burned by exercisers may decrease by as much as 25%.
For instance, if you normally exercise for 45 minutes, four days a week on a treadmill with the same intensity and time for each workout, over time you will not benefit as much as you did when you began. Your body will become accustomed to the routine, and it can become increasingly difficult for you to meet your fitness goals. The repetitiveness can also be boring – even with music, TV or a magazine for distraction, the exercise might become mundane, which also can decrease the likelihood you’ll continue working out.
Fitness professionals agree the best solution to dodge exercise plateaus and workout boredom is cross training. Cross training simply means mixing together a variety of exercise activities into a varied regimen.
Do you work out at a gym? Instead of 45 minutes on a treadmill each time, jump on a Lifecycle exercise bike for 30 minutes then spend 15 minutes on a stair climber. Swim one day and lift weights another. Health clubs with an extensive choice of group exercise classes make cross training a breeze; once a week try indoor cycling, step aerobics, or kickboxing. Check out the newest classes emphasizing stretching and toning, such as Pilates or yoga.
Home exercisers also have options. Some treadmills can be raised for steep hill climbing one day, lowered for running flat the next. Or vary the intensity level – alternate going hard for five minutes and easy for five minutes. Premium equipment usually offers different exercise programs to help spice up your workout.
Check out other home fitness equipment too – fitness equipment specialty businesses can help you choose a second piece that will complement the first. You may want to try the hottest piece of equipment available today – elliptical machines that combine low impact stair climbing with skiing and cycling, like Life Fitness’ Total Body Cross Trainers.
Packheiser says clinical studies show most people plateau in their exercise programs somewhere the sixth and eighth week. Exercisers should make sure they change their routines at least that often to maintain workout efficiency and prevent boredom. She recommends having at least two different activities that can be alternated daily or conducted within the sameworkout.
By taking the routine out of exercise, fitness fans can reap positive results and enjoyment from their workouts. They’ll feel better, look better and may even wish to add more variety to their lives. Café Latte? Next time make it a cappuccino!
2. Giving Exercise Equipment this Holiday Season? Survey shows Treadmills Top the wish list
How many of us have made our wish list for Santa while munching on high calorie holiday season food? Facing the festivities – and cookies – of the holiday season, it’s not a surprise that Santa is asked for so much exercise equipment. Not only does workout equipment weigh down the sled and pose a wrapping challenge; Santa must maneuver down the chimney with extreme caution. Nevertheless, before so much is asked of St. Nick, you need to decide whether you want a treadmill, an elliptical cross trainer, a bike, or a stair climber and examine your fitness goals and lifestyle to determine what piece of equipment is best for you.
If you find that the treadmill is at the top of your list, you aren’t alone. According to a survey done for Life Fitness, manufacturer of the Lifecycle exercise bike and other fitness equipment, more than 30% of the 1000 people questioned said the piece of exercise equipment they’d most like to receive this holiday season is a treadmill. Strength training equipment was a distant second with 13.5%, followed by exercise bikes at 11.9% and elliptical cross trainers at 11.3%.
Chuck Barnard, General Manager of a leading American health club wasn’t a bit surprised by the survey results. "We have 100 pieces of cardiovascular equipment in the club, and nearly 30 of them are treadmills. It’s a high number, but we need to have this many because treadmills are so popular."
Industry figures back up Barnard’s observation. Americans spent US$1.5 billion on treadmills in 1996, according to the Fitness Products Council, making them the most popular piece of exercise equipment. What’s more, since 1987, consumer use of treadmills is the only form of machine-based aerobic exercise that has increased each year.
"We can attribute the growing popularity of treadmills to many things. Most importantly, that they can accommodate people of all fitness levels," says Barb Usmail, exercise physiologist for Life Fitness. "People can jog or run or do whatever they want at their own pace while toning muscles and burning calories."
But, before you turn your list over to Santa it is a good idea to get acquainted with the different types of equipment available. Visit a local health club (many have one day passes) and try the different machines. In addition to assessing the different workout each piece of equipment offers, it’s important to ask yourself if you’re enjoying it. Other considerations are the level of cardiovascular exercise, and whether you need low or non impact exercise programs.
No matter what you ask Santa to bring, keep the fun factor in mind. The more you enjoy the piece of equipment you are working out on, the better chance you will have at keeping that New Year’s resolution to lose weight and get in shape.
3. Tips for Buying a Home Treadmills
What’s the most popular cardiovascular workout? According to research done by American Sports Data Inc., it’s treadmill exercise with more than 37 million Americans participating in 1999. That’s up a whopping 743% from 1987.
No wonder so many people have taken to exercise on treadmills – it’s an excellent way to lose weight and get in great cardiovascular shape. If you’re in the market for a home treadmill, you’ve got a wide variety of products available from which to choose. It’s very important, however, to find a treadmill that will meet your needs and help you achieve your goals, so be sure to ask the following questions before going shopping:
How much money do you want to spend? The old saying "You get what you pay for," directly applies to home fitness equipment. While it may be tempting to take advantage of a good deal, an inferior piece of equipment won’t deliver the results you want, and it won’t be as sturdy, dependable, or enjoyable to use. Consider this purchase as an investment – a good treadmill will last you for years.
Who’s going to use the treadmill? The size and weight of the user, as well as how s/he plans to use it, e.g. walking or training for a marathon, can make a difference in the kind of treadmill you purchase. Also, consider the number of people who will be using it. A treadmill’s durability becomes increasingly important if several people will be logging time and miles on it.
Where will you keep the treadmill? Shopping for a home treadmill is like shopping for a sofa; figure out in advance where you plan to place it and measure the space. You want to be sure your treadmill will fit where you plan to exercise.
Now you’re ready to put on your running shoes and head to the store. Here are some tips to help you select your treadmill:
Go to an authorized specialty fitness equipment dealer. You will find higher quality products and greater selection at fitness equipment specialty businesses rather than at general sporting goods stores. Fitness equipment specialty businesses often have certified fitness professionals (make sure you ask) who can help with selecting, understanding the features of, and maintaining your treadmill.
Try out several treadmills. It’s important to try out different models of treadmills before making your final choice. If the machine doesn’t feel comfortable to you, you won’t use it, so wear your shoes and shorts and plan on giving a number of treadmills a five minute try. Look for sturdy construction, including a wide and flexible running surface, an easy to read console and a variety of programming options, including those that will let you get going quickly or that let you customize and personalize your workouts.
Check out the exercise programs. While most treadmills have adjustable inclines and speed settings, the range of programming options runs the gamut from basic fat burning and cardio workouts to far more elaborate programming such as the Life Fitness Sports Training Workouts, which simulate outside terrain with both 5K and 10K race courses, available on Life Fitness’ newest treadmills.
Find out about warranties and after sales service. Don’t forget to ask about parts and service warranties. The most reputable manufacturers back their equipment with good warranties.
Once your treadmill is in place, resolve to use it regularly, and before long you’ll agree with the millions of others who exercise on treadmills – it’s a fabulous workout.
4. One in Three adults Targets Tummies
Eggnog, cookies, holiday parties. It’s no wonder that when the new year roles around, people put"get in shape" at the top of their list of resolutions.
When we commit to get fit, what body part are we most focused on? According to a survey conducted for Life Fitness, manufacturer of the Lifecycle exercise bike, and other fitness machines for homes and health clubs, more than 38% of the 1000 respondents polled will target their stomachs. A visit to any health club is proof that men and women alike are straining their stomachs on floors, benches and other exercise apparatus in a quest for the "washboard abs". Considering the fact that American consumers spend US$4.8 billion for home exercise equipment last year, adults are clearly committed to deflating the spare tire.
While a flatter stomach provides self-confidence and better fitting clothes, the medical benefits are also substantial. Studies indicate that having a tight abdomen releases more than 50% of the pressure between the vertebrae of the spine, according to a July 1997 article. In fact, many back problems are related to excess weight and weak abdominal muscles.
"With all the hype surrounding the physical and medical value of a toned stomach, consumers are realizing the need to incorporate abdominal exercises into their daily routines," says Kerri O’Brien, a National Strength and Conditioning Association certified health and fitness specialist with a leading American fitness club. "Abdominal muscles are used in virtually every activity in our daily lives, from walking, running, cycling, stepping, to simple stretching or lifting."
"Exercising the abdominal muscles alone, however will not give you a washboard stomach," cautions Greg Bahnfleth, an American College of Sports Medicine certified health and fitness instructor and Life Fitness associate training manager. "We can’t spot reduce a particular body part, but we can do something about getting in shape. A fitness professional can help design a program that incorporates a balanced diet, limited fat intake and a regimen of cardiovascular and strength training exercises which, in turn, can strengthen, tone, and reduce fat all over – including the abdominal region."
To give yourself the best shot at keeping your tummy toning New Year’s resolution, it is important to vary your exercise routines and always keep it fun. Changing the location, and increasing or decreasing goals to attainable levels are ways we can stay with our fitness programs and obtain those admirable abs.
5. Outfitting Your Home Gym
Work! Kids! Errands! With today’s increasingly packed schedules, who has time to go to the health club constantly? One way to supplement your health club workout is to purchase fitness equipment and workout at home.
With the tremendous variety of fitness equipment now available, deciding which machines to select can be daunting, so consider the following:
Budget: How much money do you have to spend? The saying "You get what you pay for," directly applies to fitness equipment. Compromising here won’t pay off in the long run, as lower cost equipment can give you a poor exercise experience, and / or break down fairly easily so you won’t get the results you want. If you are serious about exercising, spend more money up front so you will be more likely to enjoy the machines for years. Consider this purchase as an investment in your health.
Physical Space: How much room do you have? You’ll want everything to fit comfortably. In addition to measuring floor space, note ceiling height, as some home gyms may be tall. Bring these dimensions with you when shopping.
Your Goals and Preferences: Do you want to burn fat or do you want to strengthen and tone? Do you prefer a treadmill, a stationary bike, or an elliptical cross trainer? Are you more likely to use free weights such as dumbbells or selectorized machines? If you don’t know, purchase a guest pass at a local health club and try different pieces. Many high quality health club equipment manufacturers, such as Life Fitness also produce similar models for home use.
You will find higher quality products and greater selection at fitness equipment specialty businesses rather than at general sporting goods stores. Fitness equipment specialty businesses often have certified fitness professionals (make sure you ask) who can serve as consultants in selecting, setting up, using, and maintaining your equipment.
What are the best pieces of fitness equipment to purchase? According to Gregory Florez, President of Fitness First Inc., a company that specializes in testing fitness equipment and in home personal training, the best ones are those that you will use consistently.
"Although treadmills are popular, you may prefer a stationary bike or a stair climber’" says Florez. "Consider what activities you like or find interesting to help identify the best equipment for you. For example, did you like riding a bicycle when you were young? Does cross country skiing interest you? Questions like these can help you buy something you will like and use on an ongoing basis."
In addition to treadmills, bicycles, and stair climbers for fat burning, elliptical cross training machines, and rowing machines are good choices that can also work the upper body. For weight training, choose from multi unit home gyms, free weight systems, benches and dumbbells. Some companies such as Vectra make a full line of home strength equipment to meet your needs.
Take your running shoes or workout clothes and try each machine for several minutes to determine what you prefer. Also ask about warranties, service technicians and spare parts. Manufacturers who expect their products to last, back them up, and you need to deal with a company who will be there to help you after the sale has been made.
Once your home gym is set up, commit to use it regularly. You may find that you have even more energy than before to handle your work, the kids, and errands!
6. Star Strength Training for daily life
Many people perform strength training to look good, but it also can help you with the rigors of daily life – whether that is climbing stairs, lifting kids or playing a few sets of tennis.
Fitness experts now recommend functional strength training (FST) as another way to enhance coordination, muscular strength and endurance – and ultimately build a body better able to meet the challenges of daily living and even improve athletic performance.
Becoming increasingly popular in health clubs, FST is an integrated approach to strength training focused on exercising multiple muscles and joints together instead of working muscles in isolation as with conventional strength training.
Like yoga and Pilates, two popular stretching and strengthening programs, FST emphasizes the body’s core muscles – abdomen and back – as stabilizers. The core plays an important role in nearly every activity we do.
FST uses free weights such as dumbbells and barbells, pulley weight machines, elastic bands, stability balls and balance boards. Conveniently, these tools now are available for use in the home as well as the gym.
FST should supplement traditional weight lifting and is not intended to replace it. It provides variety and additional benefits that directly transfer to common movements performed all the time.
"Everyone needs strength simply to perform the activities of daily living," said Christine Cunningham, MS, ATC/L, CSCS and a member of the Life Fitness Academy Training Network. "Functional strength training is becoming more popular because it is so practical; it can help people perform their daily tasks without fear of overtaxing their strength and abilities."
Basically, in FST, exercises should mimic the movements of the real-life activity while working against resistance. For best results, train with movements that follow and are equal to or greater than the current range of motion, and are at the same speed as the activity to be performed. For example:
A golfer who wants to maximize his or her power (and thereby lengthen the distance of his/her shots) should focus on the major muscles involved in the golf swing from the legs and hips to the torso and through the upper body – perhaps by using a high pulley with weights and simulating his/her swing all the way from the beginning of the stroke to the follow-through.
A senior who has difficulty getting into the car or bathtub should practice squatting movements with light weights to enhance coordination and strength.
A mother with recurring back problems from lifting and carrying children would do well to try FST to strengthen her abdominal and lower back muscles while practicing squatting and lifting additional weight.
And anyone who has to wrestle a heavy bag into a plane’s overhead bin or a high shelf could benefit from working the chest, shoulder, back and abdominal muscles, along with simultaneously emphasizing balance and leg strength.
To get started, check with a local health club that may have personal trainers who can design a tailored FST routine. For working out at home, superior fitness equipment suppliers can recommend a multi gym suitable for you, and may even offer helpful exercise direction.
Strength training isn’t just about improving your physique anymore. Incorporating FST can enhance overall well-being and help you achieve your potential.
7. Ten Tips for Staying with your Exercise Program
Starting an exercise program won’t make your life better; staying with an exercise program will. If you’ve gotten this far, you’re obviously committed to making changes to improve your life. Congratulations!
Maintaining consistent exercise habits is a big challenge. But sticking to a training program gives you tremendous rewards. Once you begin to notice how much better you feel and look, you will wonder how you ever got along without regular exercise. If the physiological benefits are not immediately apparent, sometimes it is hard to stay motivated. The following tips are a few of the more popular and effective strategies used by successful athletes, coaches and sports psychologists to maintain motivation:
- Don’t Overdo It: Injury is the #1 reason for quitting exercise, and perhaps the most common cause if injuries is exercising too aggressively, or trying to do too much too soon. Whatever activity you choose, proceed at your own pace. When beginning a new program, always begin at a very moderate intensity and adjust it as your fitness and comfort level allow. Periodically re-evaluate your intensity and duration to make sure that you are not over – or under – training. Never compare yourself to others or feel that you have to keep up with them. Remember that you’re doing this for you.
- Set Attainable Goals: Even if you have a big goal of losing weight or running in a 10K race, set smaller goals for yourself that can be achieved in six – to eight – week increments. This way, you can enjoy the sense of pride and accomplishment more frequently while on your way to achieving your ultimate goal. Write your goals down and monitor your success. Adjust your goals if you set them too high at the beginning.
- Keep a Progress Chart: Keep an exercise log that includes your written goals, as well as a log of your workouts. Include subjective comments about how you feel during and after exercise so you’ll be aware of subtle changes when you improve. It will be written proof of your success.
- Variety is The Spice of Life: Put variety into your exercise program by alternating the types of activities in your workouts. For example, one workout may include cycling, the next one walking and the next one rowing. This type of training – called cross – training – helps you to avoid boredom, reduces the risk of injury due to overuse of a single muscle group and provides better overall body conditioning.
- Keep it Convenient: Choose an exercise that doesn’t require a lot of skill, something that you can do almost anytime or anywhere, even if you’re alone. Get some fitness equipment that you can use at home. Work out while you watch your favorite TV show or while you read. If you’re going to join a health club, choose a location that is close to either your home or your office.
- Time of Day: There is no time of day that is better than any other time. However, some people prefer one time over another. Keep it convenient.
- Plan Ahead: Integrate fixed workout times into your schedule just as you would schedule a business meeting or a doctor’s appointment – and keep the date! By having a plan, you’re showing commitment and are more likely to exercise on a regular basis.
- Gain Fitness Knowledge: Become a student of fitness and discover what will work best for you. The More you learn about the benefits of exercise, the more motivated you’ll be.
- Enlist a Friend: Work out with a friend. There will be days when you just won’t feel like working out. Having a buddy along to help motivate you is a great way to keep you going and double the fun of exercising! It is best to work out with a friend who has the same interests and a similar level of fitness.
- Dress for Success: Equip yourself with proper workout gear. Wear comfortable athletic shoes with good support and non-restricting, breathable clothing. Also, be sure to use safe, reliable equipment. All of these can significantly reduce your risk of injury.
- Reward Yourself: Hard work and success deserve reward. When you have reached a goal, reward yourself with a special treat such as a new CD or an evening out with friends. You’ve earned it!
8. Aerobic Training
There are four major components of physical fitness – cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, flexibility and body composition. While each element is important, the most vital is cardiovascular endurance, which is improved by aerobic training. Aerobic training is a rhythmic activity that uses large muscle groups, elevates the heart rate and increases the uptake of oxygen over an extended period of time. Some examples of aerobic exercise include walking/running, cycling, stair climbing, rowing, swimming and group exercise classes (aerobics).
Whichever activity you choose, how hard you work out depends on your goals and your currentlevel of physical fitness. It is important that you design a workout that suits you becauseif you don’t enjoy it, you won’t stick with it. There are two basic types of aerobic training: intervaltraining and steady-state training.
> Interval Training
Life Fitness cardiovascular machines are known throughout the fitness industry for theirpremier delivery of interval training. Their computerized interval training programs havebeen scientifically proven to yield greater cardiovascular improvement than steady-statetraining. Interval training also helps people work toward levels of higher intensity by givingthem a sampling of more intense work loads. A gradual introduction to the next levelprovides variety to fend off boredom.
Interval training provides a high-effort aerobic workout separated by regular intervals of low-intensity exercise. The programs are designed to increase and decrease your heart rate between the high and low ends of your target heart rate zone by varying the work load throughout the exercise session. It is important, however, to monitor your heart rate during the program to assure "proper" levels of intensity.
Interval training is extremely popular with everyone from elite athletes who depend on power and speed for optimum performance, to patients recovering from a medical condition whoneed the physical activity to hasten recovery.
> Steady-State Training
Some people prefer steady-state training, which keeps the workload constant throughout their exercise session. A constant exercise intensity will allow you to maintain a steady heart rate while exercising.
> Aerobic Training Tips
No two people are exactly alike, so no two personal exercise plans should be identical. Peoplevary widely in their health, goals, motivation, age, physical condition, exerciseexperience and time constraints. All your personal factors are probably very different from your neighbor’s or best friend’s.
The following general guidelines will help you to develop your personal exercise plan. Remember, you are your own best coach. You know your limitations and expectations better than anyone.
The American College of Sports Medicine and the American Medical Association have established medical screening guidelines for exercise. We recommend that you consider the start of your exercise plan as an appropriate time to see your physician.
> Decide On Your Goals
Before you do anything else, you need to decide on your main goal. Is it weight loss? Do you want improved cardiovascular endurance? Are you training for an event? Do you want to reduce your risk of heart disease? It is important to have goals so you can focus on a direction and a type of exercise plan that’s right for you. For example, someone whose main objective is weight loss may focus on different aspects of exercise than someone whose goal is reducing the risk of heart disease. And both will train differently than a competitive athlete preparing for a sporting event.
People participate in aerobic exercise for two main reasons: Weight loss and improved cardiorespiratory performance. Varying the frequency, intensity and time of your workouts changes the focus from one to the other. Higher intensity aerobic exercise for shorter periods oftime (15 to 30 minutes) is the best way to promote cardiorespiratory improvement. Exercising for longer durations (more than 30 minutes) at low to moderate intensity promotes increased fat loss.
> Heart Rate Zone Training TM Exercise
To reach your goal - whether it’s to lose body fat or cardiovascular improvement - it is important that you exercise at the correct level of intensity. Exercising too hard or not hard enough are both ineffective. Exercise too hard and your body won’t be able to recover or adapt between sessions. You’ll end up burning out and abandoning exercise. On the other hand, if you don’t exercise hard enough, you won’t get the results you want. For an effective workout, determine your target heart rate zone for fat burning or cardiovascular conditioning and remain within it while you exercise.
To determine your Heart Rate Training Zone, first find your theoretical maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220:
220 - (your age) = theoretical maximum heart rate (beats per minute) Next, take 60% and 85% of that number (multiply by .6 and .85). The results are the upper and lower limits of your heart rate training zone.
While you are exercising, your heart beats per minute should fall within this range. Forexample, if you are 35 years old:
220 - 35 = 185 (theoretical maximum heart rate, beats per minute)
185 X .60 = 111 beats per min. (lower limit of Fat Burn zone)
185 X .85 + 157 beats per min. (upper limit of Cardiovascular zone)
So, when you exercise, you should work out at an intensity which keeps your heart rate between 111 and 157 beats per minute.
> Checking Your Pulse Manually
For optimal training benefits, you should stay within your target heart rate zone when exercising. To do this you should check your pulse regularly during your workout.
Most superior brands of fitness equipment come equipped with heart rate sensors, but you can also check your pulse with two fingers. Your pulse can be monitored in two locations: on the side of your neck, next to your Adam’s apple beneath the chin (carotid artery) or on the thumb side of the inside of your wrist (radial artery). To take your pulse, hold your index and middle finger together and press lightly against either site (the neck is generally easier during exercise). Make sure that you do not press too hard, especially when taking a neck pulse. Excessive pressure can reduce blood flow and cause the heart to slow down. You should take your pulse about 10 minutes into your workout and at regular intervals so that you can adjust intensity if necessary.
> Important Considerations
If you’re a novice exerciser with a low level of fitness, use a heart rate training zone of no more than 60 - 75% of your theoretical maximum for the first several weeks of your new exercise program. In fact you might have to start at or below 50% and work up gradually as tolerated. As your fitness level improves, recalculate your heart rate zone to 70 – 85% as long as you can maintain that intensity for a minimum of 20 minutes.
Never exceed the intensity of 85% of your theoretical maximum heart rate. There are no significant gains in cardiovascular fitness at such high intensities, but there is a significantly higher risk of injury.
As mentioned earlier, to optimize fat loss, the duration of your workout should be at least 20 minutes. In order to have the endurance to exercise for the length of time, a lower intensity of 60 – 75% is more appropriate so that you don’t fatigue and quit early. Additionally, exercise at this lower intensity is fueled by a greater percentage of fat calories, compared to higher intensity exercise, which feeds primarily on carbohydrates. As your fitness level improves, however, it is still important to increase intensity as long as you can maintain it for the duration of your workout. Remember, the key to fat loss is exercising four times a week for a minimum of 20 minutes each workout and maintaining a sound and healthy diet with controlled calorie intake.
Take your pulse for the first time about 10 minutes into your workout, once your heart has adjusted to exercise, and then periodically throughout your workout. Adjust your intensity to keep within your target heart rate zone.
Take a 15 second pulse check during exercise. Once you have calculated your target heart rate zone in beats per minute, divide each number (upper and lower heart rates) by 4 to get a value per 15 seconds. Memorize these numbers so that you don’t have to do calculations during your workout.
When taking your pulse, be sure to keep moving. Your heart rate remains at exercise pace for approximately 15 seconds after you stop before it begins to recover. Sudden stops during intense exercise can cause dizziness, fainting or even nausea. By making sure your heart rate stays within your target zone during your workout, you will achieve maximum training benefits while minimizing stress to your cardiorespiratory system. As your fitness program progresses, your aerobic capacity will build and your body will begin to show benefits of what is referred to by fitness experts as the ‘training effect’.
9. What to Look for When Buying Fitness Equipment
You’ve seen or heard it before. It looks like a great deal. Soon you’ll have your very own exercise equipment in your home. A month later, it’s collecting dust in the corner, taking up valuable space - broken, or maybe just not ‘nice’ to use. Should have known it was too good to be true.
Savvy consumers are discovering what health club owners and operators have known for years - not all fitness equipment is alike. There is a broad spectrum of products on the market: from quality equipment with programs and features that almost guarantee results, to inferior products sold in discount stores and television infomercials. To help you select durable products that will help you reach your goals, here’s what to look for when buying fitness equipment:
Easy Enough So You’ll Use it Consistently: Consoles should be self instructing, that are easy to understand and use. Lighted prompts make it easy to enter data and ‘guide’ you through the process. Should have a ‘quick start’ feature.
Motivating Feedback to Keep You Going: You should be able to see instant feedback on elapsed time, distance, calories burned, speed, elevation and maybe heart rate at the very least. The display console serves as a personal coach and motivator by giving continuous performance feedback.
Comfortable Enough For Even the Longest Workouts: Ever used a bike and had to get off it was so uncomfortable? Check the seat (big enough to be comfy?) and its position in relation to the handlebars. Treadmills should have some form of shock absorption below the deck. Cross Trainers should have a narrow gate (distance between left and right feet when using the machine).
If you are a member of a health club, does the machine you are thinking of buying feel like the one at your club? If not, don’t buy it - no matter how cheap it is - after the initial curiosity has dropped off, you won’t use it.
Built to Be Used Without Breaking Down: If it doesn’t appear solid, it probably isn’t. When you get on it, does it ‘sway’ beneath your weight? How does the manufacturer test machine reliability?
Quality Backed by Warranty: The warranty period will show the quality of the equipment (assuming you can get your warranty call answered). Buying better quality equipment will give you peace of mind.
Complete Support After the Sale: Here’s the real clincher. If you have a problem, how long does it take to get a technician to check it out. Will the sales company commit to the time period? Assuming they do answer, how is their inventory of spare parts? If you can’t get these questions answered, better to spend your money joining a health club.
10. Getting Fit!!
Here’s the bottom line: exercise must be fun, or else you won’t stick with it. One way to keep exercise fun is to exercise as safely and effectively as possible. Few things will destroy your enthusiasm as quickly as a nagging injury. Exercise right and you’re much more likely to stick with it – and see results that last.
Remember to warm up and cool down whenever you exercise. Warming up is important to bring your body from its normal level of activity to a state of exercise readiness by increasing blood flow to muscles, raising muscle temperatures (to increase muscle elasticity and to protect joints) and mentally prepare, or "psych yourself up."
Warm up by performing some cardiovascular activity, such as riding an exercise bike, using a stair climber, treadmill or crosstrainer for at least five minutes. Warm-ups should be done at a very low intensity in order to prepare your body for exercise.
Conversely, cool down after exercise by decreasing your activity level, such as decreasing the resistance level on an exercise machine, to help your cardiovascular system gradually return to its normal level. Follow with stretching for at least 10 minutes using static movements – do not bounce.
When you exercise, start at an appropriate level and exercise at the proper intensity by staying within your target heart rate zone (see related article).
To determine your appropriate aerobic exercise routine, think FIT – an acronym for Frequency, Intensity and Time – the key components of a successful personal exercise plan :
Frequency: Frequency refers to how many times you work out each week. If your objective is simply to improve your cardiorespiratory fitness, you should exercise at least three times a week with no more than two days between workouts. If your main goal is to burn fat, you should exercise at least four times a week and for longer periods of time at a lower intensity.
Keep in mind that rest is important. Even after you have settled into a consistent aerobic workout routine, you should not work out more than five times a week. Your body needs time to recover after exercise. In fact, it is between workouts that our bodies adapt to the new training routine. Increasing frequency yields little additional cardiorespiratory improvement and increases the risk of muscle strain and injury. Try to perform aerobic workouts every other day so you’ll have a day’s rest between workouts.
Intensity: Intensity refers to how hard you work your heart and how hard you feel that you are working (rate of perceived exertion, or R.P.E). Each of us has a theoretical maximum heart rate, which sounds complicated but is really easily estimated: 220 minus your age. If you’re healthy, you should exercise at 60 % to 85 % of your maximum heart rate (see chart).
Time: Time refers to the number of minutes you spend exercising in each workout session. To maximize the benefits of your workout program, it is important that you exercise for at least 20 minutes per session to achieve cardiovascular goals and more than 20 minutes for body fat goals.
Time and intensity work very closely together and are related to your current fitness level. If your fitness level is low, your intensity should be low. If you set your intensity too high, you won’t be able to exercise as long.
GET FIT !
3 Keys To Exercise Success
Here are three components of a successful aerobic exercise program:
||For the most benefit,exercise at least 3 times a week, with a day’s rest between workouts.
||If you’re healthy, exercise at 60 % to 85 % of your maximum heart rate.
||To achieve benefits, work out for at least 20 minutes per exercise session.
NOTE: If you’re beginner or out of shape, remember to start at a lower FIT level and progress gradually for best results.