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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Buying cardio equipment

Cardio equipment is expensive stuff. It can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars, and too often ends up as a really costly clothing rack. Here are some things to think about before making the investment.

1. Is whatever piece of equipment you're considering what you really need? Recently, my aunt purchased a Total Gym. Total Gyms are ok for many people, but my aunt is very heavy and almost none of the exercises worked for her when she asked me to come over and show her how to use it. Luckily, she was able to return it, but it would have been easier if she had done the research and understood it was not the right piece of equipment for her in the first place. Think about the type of exercise you need and what, if any, limitations you have. If you have bad knees you might choose an elliptical machine over a treadmill. If you want to run, make sure the treadmill you're looking at is not just suited to walking. If it's difficult for you to stand for long periods, you may need a stationary bike instead of an elliptical or treadmill, and if you have a bad back you might need a recumbent bike instead of an upright.

2. Will you use equipment at home or do you need the motivation of actually going out to the gym (and being around other exercising people) to get your exercise done?

3. Do you actually need a piece of cardio equipment? A wii-fit or other fitness video games, an aerobic step (or your own stairs) and exercise videos are all less expensive options that may net you the same results as your own treadmill, bike or elliptical machine.

4. Can you get what you want used? A family member may have the treadmill you want malingering in their basement and might give it to you for free! Or, check craigslist, Play It Again Sports, garage sales or your local newspaper's classifieds. Do beware and make sure you check any used equipment for functionality. Make sure nothing's broken or unsafe. Much of the time, you can get a very functional and lightly used piece of cardio equipment for much less that you would pay for new.

5. Before buying any piece of equipment, new or used, try it and and make sure it's a comfortable fit for your body. Personally, I can't stand certain elliptical machines because the stride feels all wrong, and I can't imagine spending half an hour on them. I bought a used Tony Little Gazelle walker a few years ago wanting something to use indoors in the winter without having to trek to the gym. The thing felt awful and I used it twice. Make sure you're getting something you can use in relative comfort.

I you've asked yourself all the right questions, purchasing a piece of cardio equipment can be a great way to add to your fitness routine. Like anything else, check your impulses, make a smart decision, and enjoy the results!

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