Q. Glen I don't have time to go to the gym,what can I do?
A. Exercise at home!
Not long ago, home-exercise equipment was for young guys preparing for a summer at the beach. Today, men and women of every age are benefiting from treadmills, dumbbells and other home-exercise equipment.
Bulging biceps are no longer the main objective, though building up arm strength can indeed be helpful to people over age 50. Exercise equipment can also help improve your cardiovascular system, strengthen respiratory functions and help you lose weight.
Exercising on home equipment can have big advantages for people who don't enjoy the atmosphere of health clubs or for those without a club nearby. It's also a plus for people who live in areas with cold winters, where outdoor sports -- or even walking -- are difficult.
Even if you're a member of a health club and live in a warm climate, home equipment has the benefit of convenience. It allows you to exercise in the middle of the night, before breakfast or any other time you want.
Important: Be sure to consult your physician before you start an exercise program.
BUILDING A HOME GYM
Don't make the mistake of buying lots of equipment right away. Start with basic devices to gain strength, and then -- if you still enjoy exercising at home -- work up to more demanding and sophisticated equipment. Road map...
Step 1: If you haven't exercised regularly in a few years, start again by increasing your strength. That type of exercise is relatively easy, the equipment is inexpensive and building strength will give you the ability to go to the next step -- cardiovascular exercise.
Resistance bands are the simplest type of upper-body equipment. These are bands of expandable materials with hand clasps at both ends. Stretching the band builds up strength in your arms and upper body.
Dumbbells are also effective in building up muscles in this area, and they're usually preferable to barbells. Reason: Dumbbells are weights lifted individually by each arm. Since you're probably stronger in one arm than the other, a dumbbell lets you concentrate on the weaker arm.
That's nearly impossible with a barbell, which is one long bar with weights at each end. Moreover, if you lose control of a barbell, it could fall on your chest and even roll back on your throat. If you have problems lifting a dumbbell, you can simply drop it on the floor.
Weight-lifting guideline: Start with about 70% of the greatest amount of weight you can lift. Then increase the amount slowly -- one pound a week, for example.
As you improve your fitness, also consider a "multigym," a device with one or two weight stacks, plus attachments that let you exercise arms as well as legs in many different ways.
Step 2: Once you've increased your upper-body strength, work also on improving your cardiovascular system.
Pedometers aren't usually thought of as a piece of gym equipment, but they can serve in that role by encouraging you to take more steps, even around the house.
Some pedometers, including Digi-Walker, record the number of steps you take and estimate how many calories you burn. Most people over 50 take about 2,000 to 4,000 steps a day, and only taking 1,000 steps more is known to improve heart and lung functions.
Treadmills can be an even better way to burn calories and improve the cardiovascular system. You can adjust a treadmill to move at varying speeds, so you can start at, say, one mile per hour (mph) and slowly increase the pace and/or the length of your exercise.
Stationary bicycles and recumbent steppers (which exercise your muscular and cardiovascular systems from a sitting position) also help improve the cardiovascular system. They are safer than treadmills, which present the risk -- however slight -- of falling.
General rule: If you have a problem with balance or if you haven't exercised in several years, opt for a stationary bike or recumbent stepper.
Elliptical machines (motion is similar to a bike but you pedal while in a standing position) are a good addition to your home gym once you've worked out for several months -- or if you're already physically fit. By requiring you to move in elliptical patterns, this relatively new device gives you the opportunity to improve your cardiovascular system while also getting a particularly safe workout as you stand.
If you doubt that you're exercising at the right level, use the "talk test." If you can't talk comfortably while exercising, you're probably pushing yourself too hard.
TEST, THEN BUY
With so many different types of exercise equipment on the market, it's easy to spend big bucks for a device that winds up as a coatrack. The solution is to visit retailers that sell exercise apparatus, and try out different types of equipment.
Major retailers are usually listed in the Yellow Pages under "Exercise Equipment" and include Gym Source and OMNI Fitness Equipment, Inc. Exercise devices are also sold by Sports Authority and other large sporting-goods outlets, as well as by Sears and Wal-Mart.
Most stores have several types of exercise equipment set up on the floor and allow customers to try them out there.
Look for equipment that challenges you but doesn't cause pain or require exertion that you can't perform. Be cautious of machines with expensive gadgets that you're unlikely to use, such as a treadmill device that tells you "how far you've gone," just as though you were on a track. All you really need is a timer and speed indicator so that you can pace yourself at, say, four mph for 20 minutes.
But, if you enjoy using gadgets, they could be valuable motivators that inspire you to work out.
Don't fall into the trap of buying equipment that's difficult to use on the theory that you won't benefit much without a major challenge. In fact, equipment that's overly demanding often falls into disuse.
Instead, consider devices that let you start with easy exercises and then work up incrementally to more demanding ones.
Example: A weight-training machine that starts at 10 or 15 pounds and allows you to work up in five-pound increments.
What about exercise equipment advertised on TV? The problem is that you can't test it like you can at a store where you can compare three or four types of equipment.
My advice: Never buy anything advertised on TV unless you have the right to return it and get a complete refund, including shipping charges.
Helpful: Information for assessing fitness equipment can be found at www.icaa.cc/Facilitylayouts/equipmentneeds.htm.
Regardless of where you shop, the cheapest equipment will rarely be as long-lasting as more expensive models, but the most costly devices will probably have unneeded bells and whistles. Even though you don't need to buy the most expensive equipment you can find, it's still worth investing in good quality. So expect to pay up to $2,000 or $3,000 to get something durable that has what you need.
Be sure that you have room for the equipment in your home. It's easy to underestimate the space you'll need, especially when you try out equipment on a large showroom floor. For a treadmill, make sure that you have at least five feet between the device and the wall behind it. That will prevent the treadmill from pinning you against the wall in case you should fall down on it.
Any personal health questions or problems mental or physical or before starting any diet or exercise program. Please consult your physician !
Wishing You Great Health.
Any questions? Ask Glen!