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Stay-at-home workouts can be beneficial, cost-effective

Whether you are short on space or have room to spare, you can get a full-blown, full-body workout without ever walking out the door. All it takes is a few key pieces (starting at just $8)! And some get up and go — which is easy to get when you don't have to go anywhere. The editors of Real Simple magazine

For small spaces

Resistance tubing: "Tubes are a compact alternative to weights," says Brooke Marrone, a personal trainer in New York City, so you can use them for full-body strength training. They come in different resistance levels. For about $30, you can get a set containing weights that are light (for when you're just starting), medium (for upper- and lower-body work) and heavy (for more intense lower-body training). Tip: Look for padded handles to ensure proper grip, which will help you to maintain good form.

Yoga mat: The slightly sticky surface keeps you stable during stretching and core-strengthening moves, such as planks. "If you're slipping on a carpet, you end up gripping with the wrong muscles to stay balanced," says Marrone, and this can lead to injury. Mats start at about $15.

Jump rope: Inexpensive (about $8) and lightweight, a jump rope is one of the easiest tools for high-intensity cardio. "Jump for 30 seconds or more in between sets of upper- and lower-body resistance work," says Marrone. Bonus: Circuit training burns extra calories.

DVDs: If you need a motivation boost or are looking for new routines, try a workout DVD ($10 to $30 each). "You get to exercise with a top trainer for 30 to 60 minutes right in your home," says Marrone. Browse online or in bookstores, or hit up your local library.

For big spaces

Recumbent bike: Or treadmill. Or any other piece of cardio equipment you like to use. Head to a specialty fitness store, like Gym Source, where you can pick your perfect model — important, since you'll be spending a chunk of change. (Gym-quality treadmills start at about $2,500.) Whichever piece you choose, be sure it has a sturdy steel frame and can be adjusted (seat height, incline, and so on) to maximize comfort. Extras, like a heart-rate display, are nice but not necessary.

Weight bench: To get even more mileage out of your dumbbells, invest in an adjustable weight bench (about $125). "By lying on the bench to do exercises like chest presses, you'll have a greater range of motion and get a better workout than you could lying on the floor," says Amber O'Neal, a personal trainer in Atlanta.

Set of dumbbells: "Dumbbells give your workouts variety," says Rachel Cosgrove, author of The Female Body Breakthrough (Rodale, $22). They can challenge muscles more than gym machines do because you have to stabilize yourself to lift them. Start with a basic range — a set of 5-, 8-, 10- and 15-pound dumbbells (sets cost about $5 per pound). Increase weight as you get stronger.

Stability ball: For improving balance, flexibility and strength while working multiple muscle groups, this blow-up wonder (about $25) can't be beat. A 65-centimeter ball is right for most people; go with 55 if you're short, 75 if you're very tall.

Stay-at-home workouts can be beneficial, cost-effective 11/03/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 3, 2010 4:30am]
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