If you don’t have time to hit the gym or prefer to just work out at home, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on exercise equipment to build your own home gym in whatever space is available in your house.
The following five pieces of equipment are not only comparably low in price but also not heavy (with the exception of the dumbbells, especially if you’re using ones past 25 pounds) if you want to also take them with you on vacation or maybe for a workout in the park!
- Dumbbells: The best friend for women over 40 is strength training! As women hit their 40s, 50s and beyond, the biggest worries are loss of muscle strength and bone mass. The loss of muscle mass is called sarcopenia. Studies show that decreasing physical activity as a woman ages is a key factor that leads to sarcopenia. But to maintain muscle strength women need to lift weights, cardio alone isn’t sufficient. A recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research showed that when a group of women and men over 55 years of age only used running as their primary form of exercise, they still showed a decline in leg strength. The researchers recommend that resistance training be added to the exercise routine of older people as a way to maintain muscle strength which can help prevent falls, something which becomes more of a possibility as we age. Lifting weights also helps to strengthen bones, helping to not only reduce the incidence of osteoporosis but also contributing to improved posture. If you’re new to weight training, start with 2 pound dumbbells and progress from there. Make sure to first check with a certified personal trainer to make sure you’re using correct form.
- Exercise/Resistance Bands: Resistance bands also help muscles to grow or hypertrophy. They also can be used in place of weights to perform strength training exercises such as bicep curls and triceps extensions, two great exercises for fighting flabby arms. Studies indicate that compared to using weights, people experience less hypertrophy or muscle growth when using resistance bands, but the bands are still an excellent resource for older people who want to build muscle mass. Even if you’re already working out with weights, bands are a great way to do the same dumbbell exercise using a different type of equipment.
- Stability Ball: As we get older and hit menopause, we may find that it’s becoming harder to keep that flat tummy. Stability or exercise balls can help with this issue. There are various exercises you can do on the ball that target your belly and your core. When you buy the ball, make sure to get one that’s appropriate for your height. According to guidelines from the American Council on Exercise, if you’re under 4-foot 6, select a ball that’s 12 inches (30 cm); If you’re 4-foot 6 to 5-foot , look for a ball that’s 18-inches (or 45 cm); if you’re over 5-foot 1 but under 5-foot 8, select one that’s 22-inches (55 cm); and if you’re taller than 5-foot 8, go for a ball that’s 26 inches (65 cm). The great benefit of the stability ball is that since you’re using an unstable surface (the ball) your body tries to remain balanced and therefore engages more of your core muscles (abs and back) to do so.
- Yoga Mat: As we get older, our bodies become stiff and begin to lose their flexibility. Yoga helps to maintain flexibility and balance. A good exercise to try for balance is the one-legged standing Tree Pose. Studies have also shown that yoga aids in relieving low back pain and another study published in 2014 in Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery revealed that a yoga program helped a group of women over 40 who suffered from urinary incontinence. Yoga mats are not only good for your yoga (or Pilates) practice, they also come in handy when you’re doing ab work or certain strength-training exercises such as chest presses with weights. You don’t always need a bench!
- Videos and APPS: Exercise videos are great when you want to try new workouts or like the idea of an instructor giving you encouragement. Buying all those videos may get expensive, but you can get these videos without going broke by visiting your local library. Yes, your library doesn’t just have some of the latest DVD/Blu-ray releases; it also has exercise videos that you can rent for up to three weeks. If you prefer to use your smartphone or tablet, look for exercise apps. Some of them are also free! Just look under the Health and Fitness category in iTunes or Google Play.