Guidelines for Buying Home Exercise Equipment

This article describes several types of home exercise equipment that are gentle on the lower back and spine, provide a good cardiovascular workout, and could be incorporated into a home exercise routine. Selecting and investing in the right equipment is made easier if the following factors are considered:

  • Which types of exercise are most enjoyable? Individuals who enjoy a particular form of exercise, such as power walking, can choose home exercise equipment that facilitates that activity - like a treadmill - or contains elements of that activity in a broader routine.
  • How much variety will the exercise equipment provide? Exercise equipment that has adjustable resistance, speeds, positions, or uses can provide a more varied workout, allowing the user to increase or decrease the difficulty of the activity as fitness and endurance are developed.
  • Where will the home exercise equipment be used and stored? Some machines can be folded or adjusted for more compact storage, but some large equipment is not easily moved without heavy lifting or pushing, which may not be possible or desirable for all people. When determining how much space the equipment will need, measurements should include all the positions and extensions on the machine. Some equipment, like elliptical trainers, may be too tall to fit in a basement with a low ceiling.
  • How reliable is the brand? It is ideal to find out what experience others have had with the model under consideration. Often the Internet is a good resource for easily locating ratings and reviews about certain brands of exercise equipment, and many people find independent third party reviews helpful (such as Consumer Reports,, etc.). In addition, many new machines have warranties. Check to see what is covered and how long the warranty lasts.
  • How much will it cost? Cardiovascular home exercise equipment can range from a few hundred dollars to $5,000 for a gym-quality elliptical machine or treadmill. For those on a budget, buying used home exercise equipment allows for a higher-quality or larger purchase than would be affordable if that same model was purchased new.

Enlisting the Help of Exercise Professionals

Getting the advice of a personal trainer, certified athletic trainer (CAT) or a physical therapist can be a good investment to learn about the home exercise equipment and develop an exercise program that is tailored to an individual’s fitness level and back condition.

See How a Physical Therapist Can Help with Exercise

Many trainers and therapists offer consultations by the hour. In addition, consulting a physician prior to beginning an exercise program is also recommended for back pain patients and anyone recovering from back surgery or treatment to ensure appropriateness of the equipment and prospective routine.