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Home Is Where the Gym Is

Almost everyone can exercise in some way. For some people, the most convenient approach is a home gym. There are many options in exercise machines to help burn calories and increase cardiovascular fitness.//

Depending on your age, activity preferences, budget and health, some aerobic exercise machines may be more suited to your needs. The October issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter covers some options:

Treadmills: Generally easy to use, treadmills can help build leg muscle endurance and strength as well as aerobic capacity.

Motorized and nonmotorized models are available. A motorized treadmill allows for accurate speed adjustments in your walking pace. More durable operation requires at least a 1.5-horsepower, continuous-duty motor. Runners will need a version with 2 horsepower or higher.

Stationary bikes: They can provide a low-impact and fairly intense cardiovascular workout that helps built leg muscle endurance and strength and improves aerobic capacity. Almost anyone, including people with arthritis, can use a stationary bike.

Upright models are the traditional style, with your feet positioned underneath you. A recumbent style has chair like seating, with your legs and feet out in front of you. A recumbent might be a better choice if you have low-back pain, neck problems or concerns about balance. Some models are dual action -- the handlebars move to provide an upper-body workout.

Elliptical trainers: These combine stair-stepping motion and cross-country ski motion to produce a low-impact cardiovascular workout. The result is less stress on joints than walking produces. Elliptical trainers are a good choice for people who have knee problems, arthritis or other joint problems.

Look for a stable machine with sturdy sides. There are motorized and nonmotorized models. Fit is important -- your knees shouldn’t bump into the console when moving in a good upright position.

New choice: Another newer option is a recumbent cross-training machine that allows for a simultaneous upper and lower body aerobic workout without stressing your joints. Although more costly than other standard workout machines, this versatile device may accommodate people who otherwise might not be able to exercise using both arms and both legs.

Whatever you choose, use it. Regular exercise not only can improve your overall quality of life, it also can help counter many negative effects of aging and an inactive lifestyle.


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