Exercise Equipment Checklist

By: FamilyResource.com

We've all seen it happen. A corner of the garage or basement is cleared out, and the newest member of the family arrives — a hulking metal mass of intimidating wires and bars that looks like it could as easily swallow you whole as get you in shape. Indeed, many complicated, high-priced devices litter the houses of failed fitness dreams. But the silver lining to this cloud is that it doesn't take a Rube-Goldberg machine to get in shape.

There's an oft-repeated maxim that certainly applies in this case: the best exercise is the one that you'll do. Many people purchase these expensive machines because they feel they don't know how to spend their exercise time, and are relying on the machine's instructions to provide them with a good program. Many may also secretly feel that they're more likely to exercise if they've made a big financial commitment.

Yet this often doesn't work out as planned. In fact, it's better to start with exercises that require a minimum of equipment — that way, you'll be in the habit of exercising every day, so if you decide you need more exercise equipment, you'll be sure it won't go to waste. Many people find that their simple routine is just what they were looking for, foregoing the come complicated machines altogether.

A good beginning exercise equipment checklist includes some comfortable, breathable clothes, a good pair of running shoes, a stretching mat and an exercise ball. Some may want to purchase a set of adjustable barbells. Also, a folded bed sheet can substitute for a stretching mat, although dedicated mats do have some features that make them worthwhile — such as thickness and stable footing for bare feet.

With this set of equipment, you will be able to do everything from aerobic training to flexibility exercises to muscle development. Working with heavy weights is neither necessary nor healthy at the beginning of an exercise program — this is one piece of equipment you can leave till later.

Free weights are often better to use than machine-guided weights, because they work supporting muscle groups — which helps prevent injury and creates more usable muscle. Some, however, may find that they have a medical condition that precludes the use of free weights.

Check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program, and be sure to take it slow. Remember, you're getting this exercise equipment to make a permanent lifestyle change, not to get the quick and dirty results promised by many of the machines you see on TV. Real fitness requires consistent exercise over a long period of time.

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