Lifetime: Eight exercise gadgets that actually work
Published Monday, May 28, 2012 10:49AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, June 20, 2012 3:03PM EDT
MONTREAL- The fitness and health markets overload us daily with new tools or techniques that are supposed to be the next quick fix to rapid weight loss and toned muscles.
It is an overwhelming scene, and navigating through the gadgets to identify what is a complete waste of time and money and which tools might actually help (and certainly not hurt) you on your quest to healthy active living is essential.
For this segment, we are focusing on a few fitness gadgets that work to build balance, improve muscle strength, burn more calories, increase the workout intensity, or might just give you the change you need to liven up the routine.
It is important to note that, even though the students in the Health Behaviour and Emotion Lab are quite fit (they ARE doing their graduate work in exercise psychology!), the gadgets we are showing can be used by people of all shapes and sizes.
There are lots of variations in exercises that can be done to suit you, the training intensity and type of exercise can be altered.
Have fun with incorporating some gadgets into your daily lifestyle routine.
The challenge for these next two weeks is to try a new gadget, or even just a new exercise technique, on at least three days.
Trying new exercises helps build confidence and motivation, in addition to the benefits to your balance, flexibility, and muscle strength.
BOSU ball and dyna disk
These gadgets are used to increase the difficulty of many 'standard' exercises, and work on stability and balance. The dyna disk is smaller, easier to store, and less expensive.
You can stand on the ball or disk to work leg and core muscle stability that is effective for balance, or do push ups, planks, and other abdominal exercises.
You can also work on your balance by standing on the ball or disk while doing upper body exercises.
And, if you don't want to use these gadgets, or worry about your baseline balance, you can always do upper body exercises (e.g., standing biceps curls, triceps extension, shoulder raises, etc) while standing on one foot.
Useful if you have wrist problems or to take away pressure on your wrists, push-up bars raise your hands to allow for greater range of motion and, if completing full push-ups, provide added intensity to your exercise.
You also maintain the flexibility of doing different grips with your push-ups (close grip versus wide grip).
If you are beginner, the best push-up gadgets might be a wall or step – as was mentioned during the outdoor training segment, the closer you are to standing position, the easier the push-up.
If you like the idea of raising your hands to do these exercises, and don't see yourself investing in the push-up bars, you can use a dumbbell (with square or hexagon heads).
This gadget is suitable for all ages, fitness levels, and sizes and can be purchased in different styles (weight, size, grip covering, and fill – sand, gel, or more dense substances) to match your needs and level.
They are used to improve range of motion, core strength, coordination, flexibility (the lighter medicine balls), and upper and lower body strength (the heavier medicine balls).
You can use medicine balls on your own, against a wall, or with a partner.
The advantage of using this gadget is the comprehensive training – you work lots of different muscles, and depending on the exercises, get a cardio workout as well.
There are lots of exercise variations for the medicine ball, with ones often involving the motion of the sport you are interested in (i.e., a golf swing with the ball in hand s rather than the club) and often involving throwing and catching the ball.
This is a suspension system using nylon straps and your own body weight to get a ton (over 300+) of exercises used to build strength, balance, flexibility, and stability.
You just need a strong tree branch (if you feel like being outside) or post or sturdy gym equipment to fasten to, and the exercises are endless.
It is easy to store, and to use, whether for rehab of an injury, or to develop strength and fitness.
This gadget has been a staple success story in the fitness industry and an even longer success and history in rehabilitation.
Similar to the bosu ball and dyna disks, the premise is to exercise with the ball to remain balanced and thus engaging more muscles than while doing similar exercises on the floor.
Stability balls are often used for core and abdominal exercises.
This gadget is really your personal masseuse. It is used to work out muscle knots and reduce muscle soreness, relieve aches and pains, improve blood flow and flexibility.
You simply roll over the foam while targeting the areas of your body that need a little TLC.
If you don't want to invest in a foam roller, you can use a tennis ball too!
These bands also had their entry in rehabilitation, and are now staples in the gym and in many homes.
They are used to improve flexibility, and build muscle strength and power, and provide variation to dumbbell and weight machine work-outs.
You can get the bands in a number of different tensions to change the difficulty, and can perform hundreds of exercises working almost every muscle in your body.
Smartphones have apps that are useful for developing fitness routines, providing advice for exercises, and challenging others to physical activity.
There are also gadgets that go on (or even in) your shoe to improve accuracy in counting your steps and activity levels.
Tracking devices are getting more and more sophisticated, but the higher the price doesn't mean the better it is. You can buy a 10$ pedometer that literally just gives you number of steps walked, or spend $50-$200 on a pedometer that also works with an app and website to track your activity over time.
Heart rate monitors are also a good way to keep track of the intensity of your training and you can get many models now that also store your data for weeks at a time and provide summaries for monitoring purposes.
The key is to find the techno-gadgets that you feel are useful for your needs. A music player might be all that is needed to boost your mood and motivation!