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Working Out at Home continued...

To keep her viewers from losing interest once they've mastered the basics, Braccia divides her own DVD workouts into three to five sections, each more intense than the last. As you get comfortable with one section, you move on to the next. "In essence, you're becoming your own teacher," says Braccia.

Of course, yoga is just one of the workouts available on video. Most experts say you should include a variety of types in your routine.

"Cross-training is a good part of any exercise regimen, and it's no different with videos," says Michael A. Schwartz, MD, who specializes in orthopaedic surgery and sports medicine. "Different programs give you a chance to work multiple muscle groups.

He adds that a variety of workouts will also keep you from getting bored, increasing the chances you'll stick with the program.

"The key is to develop a balanced fitness program that is tailored to your own interests and needs," Schwartz says. "You can cross-train with several kinds of videos, or with a video one day, biking another, jogging a third."

Exercise videos are not only good for home use, but also for on the road. Some hotels are even making workout DVDs available in their guest rooms. Wyndham International, for example, recently introduced No Shoes? No Problem!, an in-room exercise DVD. Using desk chairs and other items found in hotel rooms, the DVD offers a 31-minute exercise routine designed to improve muscle tone.

Turn Off the Excuses

Whether you're at home or away, an exercise video can only work if you actually put it in the machine and turn the power on. Which means turning off the excuses, says Mare Petras, author of Fitness Simply.

Read these common excuses (some will no doubt sound familiar), then see what Petras has to say about them:

  • "I'm too tired." Crawl to your TV and plug in your video! You'll feel energized soon enough.
  • "I've got no money to invest in equipment." A videotape or DVD, along with the player needed, is a small, one-time investment compared with home exercise machines or a gym membership.
  • "I'm just not in the mood." Put on the video for 5 minutes. You'll get in the mood.
  • "I'm too embarrassed to go to the gym." No need; just press "play."
  • "My family (life, dog, obligations) get in the way of my working out." Let them hang out while you take a few moments for your own health. Everyone will benefit in the end.
  • "I hate to exercise." There's something out there for everyone. If you don't like aerobics, learn belly dancing or the hula. There are videos aimed at older people and pregnant women, videos you can do with your children -- even some that can be done sitting in a chair.
  • "I need motivation." The longest distance is from your bed to your workout clothes. Once you make it, you're home free.
  • "I don't have enough space in my home to work out." You don't need much space for most videos. Just push away the coffee table.
  • "I can't find the time." Exercise at your own convenience, any time, even if you just have 10 minutes.

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Heart Rate Calculator

Ensure you're exercising hard enough to get a good workout, but not strain your heart.

While you are exercising, you should count between...

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Beats
PER
Seconds