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Your Health 'Club' At Home

To some people who equate losing weight with joining a gym, the expense and can be discouraging. CBS News Health Correspondent Dr. Emily Senay explains how anyone can get the equivalent of a gym workout at home in her monthlong series, The Great American Weight Loss.

The Excuse of the Day: I can't afford a health club.

This is a problem for many people who want to get fit, but don't want to spend a lot of money paying for a gym membership.

Fitness expert Angela Settle says you don't have to go to a gym or buy expensive equipment to get a great workout every day.

For a basic daily routine, all you need are the four following items for a variety of fitness exercises:

  • A pair of dumbbells. Average cost: $35.
    Settle suggests that people start with small weights between 2-5 pounds.

    These weights are all designed to help the arms, shoulders, and back. They also produce resistance, which is good for muscle tone.

    For ideas on different weight routines, check fitness magazines every month for suggestions, Settle says.

  • Elastic tubing with handles. Average cost: $5-15.
    Stand on the tubing at its midpoint and, grasping the handles with your hands, pull. This exercise is beneficial for the upper body, including the arms.

    If you don't want to stand on the tubing, you can strap it around a stairway bannister, a lampost outside, a fence - anything that's sturdy - and pull the handles. The tubing is also portable and can be packed away for outdoor exercises in the park or for when you're traveling.
  • A body bar. Average cost: $30-40, depending on the weight. This is a padded baseball-bat-shaped device that weighs about 10 pounds. Settle rests this bar on her shoulders and uses it for lower body exercises.

    While holding the bar in this way, Settle does squats for one exercise. For another, you can lunge forward, one foot ahead of the other, in a stretch. You can also use an aerobic step to rest whichever foot is forward.
  • An aerobic step. Average cost: $80. Instead of using this tool for aerobic step-type exercise, it can serve as a weight-training bench.

    Using the body bar as a weight, lay across the lengt of the aerobic step for head and torso support, with knees bent, and feet resting on the floor. Lift the body bar as you would on a weight bench. You can also use the dumbbells as weights in this exercise.

With these weight training exercises, you can get as good a workout as you could at a gym, Settle says.

"Weight is weight," Settle says. "You're pushing against weight in the machines with the health club or you're pushing against weight with dumbbells. It all tones muscles whenever you're applying resistance to muscles."

The Great American Weight Loss Tip of the Day is: Create your own mini-health club at home.

The cost of all of these exercise tools comes under $200. With just a little bit of training, some practice, and very little initial cost, all of these items can be used to produces results similar to what you would get in an expensive health club.

"What folks have to remember is...when you decide to...make your health and fitness a priority, nothing's going to stop you," Settle says.

The exercises described can be done in 10-minute intervals. You can work on upper body muscle tone for a few minutes, then lower body, Settle says.

Reported by Dr. Emily Senay

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