Exercise and fitness equipment

It is widely accepted that both exercise and general physical activity are known to bring health benefits. The definition by the World Health Organisation of exercise is “planned, structured, repetitive, and aims to improve or maintain one or more components of physical fitness”. Physical activity is defined as “any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure – including activities undertaken while working, playing, carrying out household chores, travelling, and engaging in recreational pursuits.”

Some of the key benefits include:

  • improving muscular and cardiorespiratory fitness
  • improving bone and functional health
  • reducing the risk of hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, breast and colon cancer and depression
  • reducing the risk of falls as well as hip or vertebral fractures (a break in a part of the vertebra. Vertebrae are the round, strong bones that form your spine)
  • energy balance and weight control

When exercising, it is important to wear the right type of trainers. This is probably the most crucial piece of equipment you will need. There are a range of trainer options in relation to different sports, with specific trainers designed for running, netball, squash, tennis, aerobics, walking and hiking for example.

Some sports shops offer foot mapping and gait analysis. Gait analysis measures your degree of pronation. Pronation is the natural inward roll of your foot as the outside part of your heel strikes the ground. The roll acts as a shock absorber for the leg and body, distributing the impact of the heel when it hits the ground. You can be checked for both over-pronation (the foot rolls inward too much) and under-pronation (the foot doesn’t roll inward enough). Gait analysis is used to match the degree of pronation with the correct shoe type, so you may be advised to have over-pronation shoes, neutral shoes or under-pronation shoes.

Foot mapping is a more advanced and sophisticated version of gait analysis where video and lasers are used to create a highly detailed 3D image of your foot. This type of analysis can show information about arch height and alignment of the Achilles with the leg etc, and is more often used by competitive runners.

Ill-fitting footwear can have serious consequences and may lead to back, knee and hip pain, Achilles tendonitis (inflammation of the Achilles tendon which connects the calf muscle to the heel bone), shin splints (leg pain), traumatised toes and painful blisters. This is why it is important to buy the most appropriate pair of training shoes for you.

There are many types of exercise you might like to try. Some things you can do outside and are largely inexpensive such as walking, running, skipping and cycling. As well as exercising outdoors, there are is a wide range of exercise equipment available specifically for indoor use including treadmills, exercise bikes, rowing machines, weights, core stability fit balls, etc.

Most modern gyms are equipped with all the latest apparatus, but there is also a wide selection of equipment available to buy for home use. You need to decide if you want to exercise amongst others in a gym, and perhaps take advantage of the expertise of fitness experts that are often on hand, or exercise in the privacy of your own home.

Whether you decide to join a gym, get outdoors or kit out your spare room at home, there is little doubt that regular exercise is a huge benefit to overall health and wellbeing.
Before embarking on any new fitness regime it is advisable to talk to your GP to ensure you choose the right equipment. Or if you are a member of a gym, talk to the fitness team.

Sources used in writing this article are available on request

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Information written by the talkhealth team

Last revised: 14 April 2015
Next review: 14 April 2018