Whether you're a stay-at-home mom or a corporate executive, your schedule may not allow for time at the gym. Fortunately, there are various types of effective exercise equipment that are suitable for home use. While women rarely require gender-specific fitness equipment, some machines are more suitable for the average female height, leg and torso length.
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Budget is an obvious concern when choosing home equipment. If you choose expensive equipment, make sure that you will be motivated to use it. Fitness goals are a more complicated issue. You will also need to decide whether you want an aerobic, strengthening, balance or sport-specific workout. Choosing equipment that serves more than one purpose is the best option. Assembly should also be considered. "Easy assembly" is a relative term. If you’re not mechanically inclined, consider less-complicated equipment.
Most modern women realize that spot reduction is a myth, but many home fitness manufacturers have a tricky way of appealing to female insecurity. Steer clear of machines that promise to "shrink thighs" or "flatten your belly," and avoid exaggerated claims about aerobic or toning benefits. An aerobic machine will offer only minimal muscle-toning benefits. Strengthening equipment offers limited aerobic benefits.
Measure available space before purchasing larger equipment. If space is limited, consider machines that can be folded for storage, but be aware that having to unfold the equipment might impede exercise compliance. Heavy, cumbersome equipment can be difficult to unfold. This may not be a problem for women accustomed to weight training, but it can be an issue for novice exercisers. You should also consider the actual setup of the machine. Some equipment, such as hamstring curl machines, is better-suited for taller people. Women with shorter legs may not get maximum benefits from this equipment.
Aerobic equipment should have a timer and a pacer. Calorie readouts and heart rate monitors are an option, but they are often inaccurate. Strength-training equipment should be easily adjustable. If you can't imagine yourself lifting 300 lb., there's no need to spend extra money on machines that offer that option. Sport-specific equipment should support movement in various ranges of motion, including flexion, extension and rotation. Traditional strength-training machines are linear. This is not suitable for sports such as golf and tennis.
While women and men have similar fitness needs, women need to be concerned about preventing female-specific injuries and medical conditions. For example, the National Osteoporosis Foundation suggests that women perform weight-bearing exercises to prevent osteoporosis. As such, consider leg exercise equipment that is used from a standing position. Many women have a muscular imbalance between their hamstrings and quadriceps, which often leads to knee injuries. Choose equipment that effectively strengthens the hamstrings.
A stability ball and a set of resistance bands are suitable for most of the fitness needs. The ball, or the Bosu, which is a half ball, can also be used as a weight bench. Some aerobic exercises can be performed on the dome side of the Bosu. Consider purchasing adjustable dumbbells. The resistance can be changed with a flick of a switch, and they take up far less space than a set of traditional dumbbells. An aerobic step can also double as a weight bench. The Total Gym can be used for strength-training and Pilates. It also has exercises that simultaneously work the upper and lower body, thereby providing a mild aerobic workout.