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Women's Health

10 Budget-Friendly Exercise Gadgets

Tight budgets are no excuse to let yourself get flabby.
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Medicine Ball

About the size of basketballs, medicine balls are weighted and can be used to add intensity to a basic set of floor exercises. You can squeeze a medicine ball between your knees while doing reverse curls to strengthen abdominals, for example, or hold it above your head while doing lateral flexes to tighten up oblique muscles. Most come with instructions for a set of basic exercises. Medicine ball: About $20.

Stability Ball

Big enough to sit on, stability balls offer another great way to add intensity to floor workouts. Because the ball is wobbly, your muscles have to work to help you keep your balance. The more muscles are activated, the more complete your workout. Stability balls are especially good for working out abdominal and back muscles. Stability ball: $10 to $20.

Walking or Running Shoes

If you love to walk or jog, decent shoes are critical. Comfort is the most important criteria. When you shop for shoes, try the pair on and take the time to walk around the store a few times to make sure you get plenty of foot support. Shoes should be snug without rubbing your feet the wrong way. Shoes: Typically $40 to $120.

Fitness Videos

Fitness is big business these days. That means celebrities, exercise gurus, and former athletes are all churning out exercise videos -- everything from George Foreman’s “Walk It Off, George!” to “Box Out -- the New Way to Exercise With Sugar Ray Robinson.” Fitness videos cost $10 to $20 retail. Used exercise videos show up in plenty of yard sales and flea markets for a fraction of that. Many are also available at local libraries or from Netflix.

A Stairstep

Walking up and down stairs offers as good a workout as a fancy stair machine -- at no cost. If you live or work in a building with stairs between floors, use them for your gym. Or find a building or park nearby with steps you can use. Another option if you’d rather not exercise in public: buy a step platform, just like the ones used in step classes at the gym. Exercise videos featuring step platforms are available. Cost of a step platform: $100. Cost of a staircase: Free.

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Reviewed on April 11, 2012

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