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treadmillMost physical activities require equipment of some sort, even if it's as simple as a pair of running shoes. Here's a checklist of things to think about when you're deciding which equipment to buy.

Have a goal in mind.

The equipment you choose depends on your physical activity goals. If you'd like a stronger heart and lungs, you might choose a pair of running shoes, stationary bike or treadmill. If you want to increase strength, you'll need something that provides resistance, like weights, resistance tubes or a home gym machine.

☚☚ TIP: Keep in mind that resistance tubes and bands are inexpensive, portable and don't take up much room, so they're a good choice if you're just starting out, traveling frequently or living in a small space. Before you buy a home gym machine, keep in mind that as your activity level and fitness increase, you could move beyond the machine's maximum resistance setting, so it would no longer be useful  for you.

Choose an activity you already enjoy doing.

The more you like a particular physical activity, the more likely you are to do it regularly. Once you've decided on the best activity, choose equipment that's practical, enjoyable and easy to use. Having the right equipment can help make a physical activity more fun, which makes it easier for you to stay active.

Consider who else might use the equipment.

If a friend or family member will regularly be using the equipment, make sure it's adjustable or adaptable to different fitness levels and body sizes.

Make sure you have enough room for the equipment.

A treadmill can look smaller in a store than it does in your home. Be sure to measure the amount of space you have at home and take a tape measure with you to the store.

Decide what can you afford.

Fitness equipment can range in price from inexpensive to very expensive, so decide in advance how much you want to spend. Used equipment can save money, but it could also have unexpected problems (for instance, protective equipment may have molded to the previous user so it doesn't fit you correctly).

☚☚ TIP: Keep in mind that expensive equipment may have more features than you want or need, and all those extra features may need regular cleaning, adjusting and maintenance, and be expensive to fix if they quit working.

 

Try it out before you buy. Here are some things to look for:

  • Does it fit you properly?

  • Is it comfortable?

  • Will it give you the type of workout you want?

  • Is it easy to use, or too complicated?

  • Is it fun?

  • Is it sturdy and well made?

  • Is it noisy?

  • Does it meet any required safety standards?

  • Is there a safety feature that shuts the machine off if something unexpected happens?

  • Can you rent it or have a trial period so you can see how well it suits you over a longer period of time?

Check to see if there's a return policy.

Sometimes you don't know if you're comfortable with something until you get it home, use it a few times or use it over a few weeks.

Get other opinions.

Read about the equipment in magazines or online. Talk to an exercise professional. Ask friends or family who already use the model you're considering.

 

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