Fitness Trackers: Are they for you?

exercise bikeBecause I write about exercise and fitness, I was invited to review the fitness website, SlimKicker (SK). SK is an online tool to track exercise and weight goals and get feedback from the online community.

Signing up was easy – I just had to create a user name, password, and enter my goals. I entered my perennial goal of 10 pound weight loss, and SK gave me a suggested daily calorie amount, broken down into grams of carbs, fats and protein, based on the data I entered for gender, height, age and activity level.  Later, I found how to calculate this number again, entered the same data, and got a slightly different number. Hmm.

Next, I started entering the food I had eaten that day –  a small bowl of Raisin Bran for starters. As soon as I recorded this, a pop-up message appeared: “Cereal does not have any protein. Maybe you should have eaten a three egg omelet with vegetables and feta cheese instead.” A three-egg omelet? Seemed like big breakfast for someone of my size, especially since SK told me I only get 1,266 calories for the day (or 1,279, depending on which day I calculated it.)  Protein is good, but I think I would start gaining weight if I ate this breakfast of champions every day. Discouraged, I didn’t bother to enter any other food that day, afraid that SK would start recommending a Big Mac or a large steak.

Next, I tried entering exercise. Since I had ridden my bike on the trainer for 30 minutes, I went to the cardio section. I searched on “bike.” None of the choices that came up were right – mountain bike, bike to work, etc. Next I tried “stationary bike,” and found one that fit. From there it was easy to enter the number of minutes from the drop down menu. Once you enter an activity, you can save it as a routine, so you can reuse the same entry on another day.

Then I tried entering “weight lifting” as an activity. I had hoped I could just enter “weight lifting, moderate, 40 minutes.” But SK wanted me to individually enter each weight lifting activity, such as bicep curls, how many reps and how many sets. This proved to be too cumbersome and I gave up on it in no time at all.

Finding my initial experience with SK less than stellar, I set is aside for a couple of months, then recently gave it another try. Best Husband has been participating in a similar program at his workplace wellness program, where participants log their exercise and steps, earn points, and can challenge each other in specific fitness goals. BH has been having a lot of fun with the challenges at work, so I decided to try the challenge section. I searched challenges that I could join, and found things like “give up soda for a week,” “no take out pizza for a week,” and “eat a salad a day.” I’m already doing those things, so I put out my own challenge to the members: Don’t eat cheese for 14 days.” So far, no joiners.

The part of SK that I liked the best is the “log your weight” section. Click the drop-down arrow for the date, then add your weight in digits in the box. SK then plots your weight on a large graph. The graph is big enough that a small change up or down looks huge. Of all the features of SK, this is the one I’m most likely to use, as I think it would be satisfying to see my weight progress down on that big graph. That is, if it ever does.

Who should use SlimKicker or other fitness tracking web sites? Anyone who enjoys participating in an online community with feedback and postings similar to Facebook. To get the best benefit from the online support, I suggest using the site with a buddy or group of friends with similar goals, and use the online challenges to help each other stay on track. Will I keep using SK? Probably not, although, I might keep using that big weight-tracker graph. Seeing that move down, down, down would be golden.

© Huffygirl 2013

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Christopher McDougall and me: Born to run, or not?

Weeks after my reintroduction to running my first 5K in 30 some years, I’m getting ready to go out for a little run again. First  I tape up my recalcitrantly inflamed ankle. Next, Ace wrap my torn, aching hamstring. Then the usual stuff:  shorts, shirt, heart rate monitor, cell phone, and I’m ready to go. Turns out that running has only gotten harder, not easier, as my physical therapist and sports medicine doc can attest. So why do I still do it? I admit that most days I’m mystified myself.

If we are, as Christopher McDougall posits, born to run, why is it so hard, or nearly impossible, for most of us? I’m two years late to the party, reading McDougall’s 2010 tome, Born to Run, long after everyone else has already tried and given up on barefoot running and buying Chia pets to make their own chia seed elixir. Yet, I’ve jumped on the bandwagon, convinced that somewhere in this book is the answer to how a middle-aged women with a non-athletic body can somehow be transformed into a modicum of runner. My goal to run two miles twice a week, and a few 5k’s a summer, so far has been mostly insurmountable, and getting farther away each day, as every run I take I swear will be my last.

So I’m trying it again.  Like McDougall, I’ve been to my family doctor, who gently suggested that walking might be a better option, ahem, at my age. I’ve been to the sports medicine doc who told me that as long as I’m unable to hop on my bad ankle, I’ll have no success running on it. My bike guru who had gently discouraged me, now says “I’m surprised you’ve lasted THIS long.” The only bright spot is at  physical therapy, where, I’ve  actually garnered some understanding of my aspirations, and surprisingly, some improvement, including now being able to hop on each foot.

I could try gait analysis, but I’m afraid I’ll end up being the five-foot two version of McDougall’s running monster, as McDougall recounts here, which had me chortling uncontrollably when I first read it:

“Dr. Davis put me on the treadmill…and had me walk, trot and haul ass.. Then I sat in horror as she played back the video. …The guy on the screen was Frankenstein’s monster trying to tango.. I was bobbing around so much, my head was disappearing from the top of the frame. My arms were slashing back and forth like an ump calling  a player safe at the plate, while my size 13s clumped down so heavily it sounded like the video had a bongo back beat…my right foot twisted out, my left knee dipped in, and my back bucked and spasmed so badly that it looked as if someone ought to jam a wallet between my teeth and call for help. How was I even moving forward with all that up-down, side-to-side, fish-on a hook flopping going on?”

McDougall’s quest to run without injury brought him to explore the ways of the Tarahumara, a  tribe of super runners, and the Leadville Trail 100 ultra-marathoners, all of whom run amazing distances year after year, without harm. If those folks can run like that, shouldn’t McDougall and I be able to run our paltry little distances injury free? Unless McDougall’s writings are sheer hyperbole, perhaps I’ll find the answer by the time I finish the book.

Have you read McDougall’s book? What physical achievements have you accomplished, despite the odds tilted against your success?

© Huffygirl 2012

Spin doctor

I’m on my bike, pedaling like mad, leaning over the handlebars. The wind is blowing my hair, making it fall in my face. I repeatedly push it back, thinking I really don’t have time for this. I’m too busy working hard at keeping up with everyone else. The cyclists around me seem to be cruising along without much effort, making this ride look really easy. This is one of the hardest rides I’ve ever done. Except, this time, I’m not on out on the road – I’m trying my first spin class.

Huffygirl, fit and ready to go!

I’ve actually attempted spin class before, many years ago, before I started biking.  At that time, I found out I was not fit enough to do an entire class, felt too uncomfortable on the bike saddle (seat), and couldn’t get the bike adjusted to fit me.  But since then, three things have happened: 1.) I’ve achieved enough cardiovascular fitness after four summers of biking, that an hour of spin class should be a cinch; 2.) my gym has gotten new spin bikes with better saddles and better adjustments; and 3) I have the right bike clothes and gear to make spin class easier that I lacked before – mainly cycling shorts and clip-in cycling shoes. Of course, it’s possible to spin in ordinary gym clothes and shoes, but much easier with. And, since I’m taking spin class to maintain my fitness until the next biking season, it makes sense to make spin as much like my usual biking as possible.

Cycling shorts and shoes? Check.

So, I’m giving it another go. Best husband helped me through the bike set-up. I’ve got my water bottle, bike shoes, heart rate monitor, so I should be good to go. This early morning class is a mix of serious cyclists, folks who just want to get their exercise over with before work, and some inbetweeners like me. I’m trying to go out hard and get a good work out, but not overdo it on my first class, but I’m having a hard time striking the balance. Instead of gears, spin bikes have a tension knob – left for looser, right for tighter. It’s hard to gauge how much tension to use for a good workout.  And I’m finding the movement and noise in the small room overwhelming. Everything is moving – wheels turning, fans blowing, people popping  up and down, cranks turning. I don’t know where to look and end up closing my eyes for a good part of the class. And the noise – fans blowing, riders chatting, music blaring. Give me a nice quiet ride outside anytime. But it’s cold outside, so for the next few months, I’ll have to make this class work, or end up riding my trainer in the basement again. Not much of a choice either way. I don’t want to look like a newbie or wuss, and I don’t want to give up and quit like last time, so I’ll have to figure out how to cope.

Did I make it through my first spin class? Find out later on “Spin Diary.”

© Huffygirl 2011

Too old to start the training, OR Mr. Toad’s wild ride

I wake up, wondering what day it is, what time it is, and why am I wrapped up in extra blankets while the fan is running full blast? My neck hurts, my knees hurt, my feet hurt, my quads hurt, my shoulders hurt  and I’m pretty sure my hair hurts. What happened? Well, fast-backward twelve hours earlier.

Twelve hours earlier

I’m on my bike, clutching the handlebars as tightly as I can. My hair that is not contained in my helmet is whipping across my face. I’m trying as hard as I can

The demon trainer (© Huffygirl 2011)

to keep up with the biker in front of me.  After all, only a short while earlier I had taunted this demon – “Go faster” I said – “I’m getting too close to you.” Jeez. What was I thinking? My right hand is numb, my left shoulder aching. Was that a pothole back there? I just missed it. I’m going so fast (well fast for me anyway) that I’m not taking in all of my surroundings. Where are we anyway? I’ve done this ride before, the landmarks should be  familiar, but I’ve really got all I can do to keep up with this speed demon, let alone watch the scenery.

Okay, now we’re going up a hill. I gear down, but that’s not enough to keep up with this demon, so soon I’m standing on the pedals, cranking away. I did it! But at the top, he’s off again. Finally, we’re at the flat part of the ride. “This should be a cinch” I think, “I’ll show him I know how to keep up.” But it seems that we’re going into the wind. I struggle to keep up on what is usually the easiest part of the ride, watching my average speed drop and drop and drop, farther from my goal. We stop for water at the corner before the turn.  “Well that was hard going into the wind, but we’re turning now so it should be better,” I say. But the demon trainer points out “Nah, that was just a crosswind, when we turn we’ll be going even MORE into the wind.” I don’t see how we could possibly be going MORE into the wind and scoff at this, until I notice the flag on the corner, spread out wildly, flapping away from the direction we are turning.

And so we continue: flats, uphills, downhills for 25 miles. I’m watching  the pedal rotations of this demon man (and his impressive calf muscles) and notice that most of the time I’m pedaling twice as fast as he is, just to barely keep up. And he’s not riding at his full potential – after all he’s taking it easy on my first training ride. 

By the time we get home, I’m feeling accomplished, but aching. I didn’t ride pretty, but I did it. My bike computer tells me I did this ride exactly six minutes faster than the last time when I was just phoning it in. All this and only six minutes? Still, for me, whose only boast is  being the slowest biker on the road, this is progress. Next time it might be seven minutes, and then eight and then…oh heck, I’m freezing and aching and need a shower.

By the time I’m done showering I’m chilled to the bone, from all that cold wind rushing quickly past me no doubt, and despite the summer heat, wrap up in extra blankets and a heating pad to crawl into bed.

So now flash forward twelve hours again. I untangle myself from the extra blankets and get up to turn off the fan. It turns out I can still walk after all, and isn’t this why Tylenol was invented anyway?  So, will I let my husband be my trainer again? Absolutely!

The Huffys, on an easier ride (© Huffygirl 2011)

© Huffygirl 2011

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A journey begins with 10,000 steps


A step-counting pedometer. (Image via Wikipedia)

You’ve heard that expression haven’t you? Well, probably not, since the actual expression is “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” attributed to  Confucius. But this journey, the 10,000 steps one, is about lifetime fitness.

I’ve been working on writing information for my diabetic patients on eating and exercise, and ran across some literature that advocates taking 10,000 steps (about 5 miles)  a day. I’ve read some different variations of this, and if you want to know the basics you can read here, or do a search on your own. The basic premise is that walking 10,000 steps per day (the rough equivalent of 5 miles for a person with an average stride) is thought to be a reasonable amount of exercise to maintain fitness and weight, and is something that an average healthy person should do just about every day. The suggestion is that one should take a brisk 30-60 minute walk for the first 5,000 steps, aka 2.5 miles, then accomplish the rest by one’s regular activity. If your regular day is sedentary, you’ll have to do more in the planned walking part to make up for it.

In researching this, I began to wonder if the average person has enough activity in a typical day to rack up 5,000 or so steps a day. I found a pedometer lying around the house that counts steps, and tried it out. Since my exercise is biking instead of walking, which my pedometer cannot record, my goal is to see if I can get around 5,000 steps during my typical day. Then if I add on the calorie value of biking (100 calories = one mile) that should be the equivalent of walking another 5,000, to bring the total for the day to 10,000 steps.  I’d probably have to bike 45 minutes to get the additional exercise I need. I do more some days, less some days, so let’s hope it all evens out. 

So here’s what happened.

Day 1: I hit the trainer in my basement in the morning, and didn’t clip on the pedometer until after I’d showered and dressed. I spent the day doing a few short errands, working around the house, and up and down the stairs several times doing laundry. Pedometer total: 5,580 steps. Not bad. Let’s see what tomorrow brings – I’ll be at the office so this might be tough…

Day 2: I was at the clinic all day. I do a fair amount of walking around there but it’s  a small building. Probably at least one-quarter to one-third  of my day is standing or sitting. Today I went out at lunch time, so that added some walking to the car, the restaurant, and back again. At home I did my usual evening activities, went to the gym to lift weights. Pedometer total: 5,443 steps.

Day 3: Thirty minutes on the bike, then doing some shopping, errands and work around the house. I had two appointments that required sitting for two-three hours, plus some time in the car. Did some up and down the stairs for laundry too. I thought with all the sitting I did that it wouldn’t be enough steps. But at the end of the day, Pedometer total: 6,506.

Day 4:First thing in the morning  I participated in a 5K (3.1 mile walk). At the end of the walk my pedometer showed 12,164 steps. It seems like my 5K walk should have recorded as 5,000 to 6,000 steps, which makes me think this pedometer is counting two steps for every one I take. Later, I did some more walking around town, shopping, and walked a little bit at a park. Pedometer total for the day: 18,349.

 After my four-day walking experiment, I’m starting to think that either: a) getting 10,000 steps a day is way easier than I thought it would be, or b) this pedometer is recording too many steps.  Perhaps  it’s recording any kind of side to side movement that I do as steps, or counting every step I take as two. It was not an expensive pedometer, so I guess I’ll never know unless I buy a more expensive one, or have someone else try this one and see what kind of numbers they get. But if my pedometer is correct, than it seems that even office-bound people should be able to walk at least 5,000 steps in the course of a day fairly easily.

So, at this point my four-day unscientific experiment has shown inconclusive results. The accuracy of the pedometer remains unknown. It would be interesting to hear from others who have tried the 10,000 steps per day to see what kind of results you’ve gotten. Meanwhile, maybe I can get someone else around here to give my pedometer a try to get some comparison numbers.

Back off Al Gore, we don’t need no stinkin’ internet (well, maybe just a little bit)

Al Gore's brain child (Courtesy of Google)

I feel – refreshed. I’ve just  found a young person who is not obsessed with the internet.Or Facebook. Or constantly texting and Twittering. For security reasons, I’ll call her  “M.” M is a college student. She uses the internet when she needs to for school or convenience, but she doesn’t have internet access at home. No constant obsession with Facebook. She has  a FB account, but doesn’t really use it much. She can’t shoot off quick status updates or emails to her friends. Instead, she might actually have to call someone, or gasp, talk to them in person. M is not a Luddite; she’s just  a refreshingly practical person who decided that  internet access is low priority compared to all the other places her money needs to go. M is one of my climbing wall buddies. On Wednesday nights while she is scrambling all over the wall like one of the Flying Wallendas, her peers are sitting somewhere drinking high-calorie lattes’ and tapping away at their computers or phones.  M is studying exercise science and outdoor recreation, a focus that could no doubt lead her to a career  someday of getting overweight people to be active and play outside. She shouldn’t have any trouble finding a job, since about 50% of our population is now either overweight or obese

I came home after this conversation feeling renewed and nostalgic, just in time to catch most of Modern Family. Yes, I know here I am expounding about  people sitting around too much and then I come home and watch TV. But I had just been to the gym, so give me a break.

Anyway, in this episode, the mom Claire becomes concerned that her family is spending too much time sitting and using electronic devices. She bans the use of anything electronic for a week  – computer, cell phone, video games, iPad, Pod, Touch, etc and offers a prize to the person who lasts the longest. Of course, in no time at all Claire tries to make an airline reservation by phone instead of online, and quickly caves when she finds out how difficult it is.

Internet, electronic devices – blessing or curse? They’re great for convenience for things like making reservations, instant communication, online banking,

Huffygirl playing outside, pre-internet (© Huffygirl)

shopping and the like. But they can become a curse when they keep us from talking to the person right in front of us, or so occupy us with inactivity that we no longer play outside. I’m concerned when I see a group of people sitting together texting and playing with their phones instead of talking to each other. Or when I see children who are great at video games, but no longer play outside games. And don’t even get me started on our obesity epidemic – that’s another blog all together.  Can we temper our electronic device use to a sensible level like M?  Your comments please. Meanwhile, I’m going for a bike ride.

© Huffygirl

No, I’m good, I think I’ll climb down now

I’m hanging in a rope harness 20 feet above the floor. My hands and feet are sweaty, my heart is pounding. I know if I look down, or up, or anywhere, I’m done. Now it’s time to let go of the wall. This is the hard part. Most of the time I’m able to do it, although I have been known to climb back down, rather than  make myself let go of the wall and belay down. In fact, almost every time I’m up there I think about just climbing back down. But Steve, the philosopher climbing wall guy usually talks me out of it. So I let go of the wall, grab the rope and experience two seconds of terror as Philosopher Steve starts to belay me down. Once I’m past the letting go part, then I’m usually okay the rest of the way down, and mange to land on my feet.

So, you might ask, why is Huffygirl subjecting herself to such terror? Is this some strange kind of initiation ceremony? Some crazy office team building exercise? Is Huffygirl stuck in a horrible Ground Hog Day type dream where she must relive her most terrifying day over and over and over? No, this is my regular Wednesday night workout – climbing the 20 foot rock wall at my gym.

Before my gym installed the Rockwerx wall, I’d always thought that climbing

Philosopher Steve

 was for strong, elite athletes, which naturally meant that I was not qualified. I’d watch other people do it, all the while my palms sweating and heart pounding, glad to presume that I probably was not strong enough to even try it. But one night I wandered over to the wall and no one was climbing. Philosopher Steve was waiting for someone to belay and had nothing better to do than convince me I should give it a try. So I did. I stepped into the harness, clipped in to Steve’s belay line and started up. Turns out I was good enough and strong enough to climb, despite being terrified of the height. About 8 feet up I figured I’d had enough, but Steve kept egging me on with witty banter and sage encouragement, which earned him his current nickname, Philosopher Steve. About three feet from the top I was ready to quit, but Steve’s coaxing convinced me to go the rest of the way. Then came the terrifying part. I had to let go of the wall in order to belay down. Now logic dictates that there was nothing inherently safer about holding onto the wall than not holding on to it, but logic had been pushed aside by fear long before I got that far. I’m in a harness; even if I started to fall off the wall the safety mechanism would catch me. Short of a malfunction in the harness at precisely the same time that Steve unexpectedly dropped dead at the bottom, there is no way to fall or get hurt. Yet, here I am, afraid to let go.

And the next Wednesday night I was back. And the next. Some twisted logic was telling me it was good to challenge myself and made me come back each week, but it’s hard. Harder than giving up chocolate or trying to figure out which way is north, or speaking in public. Yet, I keep doing it.

So simple a child can do it!

The climbing part is getting easier, although I still stick to the easiest route. My arms are stronger, I should be proud that I’m getting better. But the trouble is, I still can’t let go when I get to the top. As climbing walls go, this one is pretty tame. It’s only (only!) 20 feet, with three routes. Anyone who’s really into climbing would think it pretty lame. The little kids on family day scramble up and auto-belay down, falling flat on the mat and getting up to do it again. But it’s not tame to me.

Soon my climbing career may be coming to an abrupt end. My gym has decided that it’s too expensive to staff the climbing wall with belaying assistants. Instead climbers must take a climbing safety class, then will be on their own. No coaxing climbing guru to help you on your way. You can bring someone to belay for you, or use the auto-belay, which takes you down so fast that inexperienced climbers, and those paralyzed with fear like me, end up falling at the bottom. I tried it once and have been too terrified to try it again. 

Steve and Huffygirl

But Philosopher Steve is coaxing me back. I climb up three feet, auto-belay down and Steve is there spotting me so I don’t fall. Then four feet, then five. This poor guy should be nominated for sainthood. Is that smile on his face when he greets me genuine, or does he have to paste it on whenever I come by. “Not HER again,” any sane person would be thinking. But not Steve, with the patience of Job,  and the good nature of a  puppy.

What do YOU do to challenge yourself? Who is your Philosopher Steve?

(Photos by Huffygirl)

The Ultimate Exercise: More on Le Tour de France

I continue to be fascinated by watching the ultimate exercise, aka The Tour de France. As a cyclist myself, I know what it’s like to be going uphill, breathing hard, heart pounding, hoping to get to the top of what I consider to be a challenging hill.  Yet, to the typical Tour rider, my hills would not even be considered a hill. Maybe a little blip in the pavement to them. Today I watched as Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck battled to reach the summit of  Col du Tourmalet. These boys had been riding for hours, yet, did not even appear winded. Their level of fitness continues to amaze me. At one point the commentators noted that they could tell the riders were really working hard to reach the summit, because they could see that from heart rate monitoring data that riders were reaching “excessive heart rates” of – wait for it – 154.  

Most of us will never reach the fitness levels that Tour competitors have achieved. After all, their job is training and riding. It is their job to be as fit as they are, and they would be unable to compete had they not reached the exceedingly high levels of fitness that they have achieved. The rest of us – we have home and work responsibilities that preclude us from spending several hours a day in exercise. Our jobs are routine – we work in factories, offices, schools, hospitals. We drive kids, bathe toddlers, carry groceries and mow lawns. We don’t need to be fit enough to bike up a mountain. Yet,  as a whole, Americans lack basic fitness and endurance, and at least one-third of us are overweight or obese. 

Tour de Chicago, aka Bike the Drive 2010


The past two weeks I’ve noticed more people than usual biking and walking on my local trail.  It may just be a coincidence, or may be inspiration from the fantastically fit riders we’ve been seeing each day in the news these past three weeks. Whatever the reason, I hope that more people will be inspired to challenge themselves to become more fit. 

Meanwhile, who to watch in the next few days of The Tour? Today, Andy Schleck won the stage, but still remains 8 seconds behind Alberto Contador, who stole the yellow jersey from Andy three days ago. Experts predict that Contador will win, but I’m still pulling for Schleck, who besides being an amazing young cyclist, just seems like a nice guy. In any case, it should be an exciting  finish, and a fantastic display of ultimate fitness.

HuffyHow: Home Exercise Equipment Wrap-up

Once you’ve decided that home exercise is for you, how do you put it all together to make it work? Here’s a few options to consider.

Minimal space and minimal budget? Consider the no to minimal equipment option. Plan to walk, run or bike outside for your cardio workout, and use a cardio video like step aerobics for bad weather days. Add resistance training with a graduated set of resistance bands on alternate days. Aim for cardio three days a week, alternating with strength three days, and give yourself a rest day one day a week.

Moderate space and moderate budget? Consider a basic weight bench with a chest press bar and quad press. Add an exercise ball for core body strengthening and stretching. Run/walk/bike outdoors for cardio, and add two cardio workout videos to alternate on bad weather days. For variety add a cardio with weights video – some come with resistance bands, or you can use the bar and plates from your weight bench. Look for used items or online bargains to stretch your fitness dollars.

Lots of space and money is no object? Set up a small home gym in your spacious area. You’ll probably need an extra bedroom or a basement room that is clean, dry and well-lit. For cardio, set up a treadmill, elliptical trainer, or bike on a trainer, with a TV or DVD player to stave off boredom. Finish out your gym with a comfy yoga mat ,exercise ball, set of bands and weight bench, or go all out and get the multi-exercise resistance machine such as Bowflex.

Minimal space and moderate budget? Buy one of the higher-priced workout video series, such as Tony Horton or the like. Alternate use with outdoor cardio workouts.

Still can’t decide? Get a trial gym membership or a one-time work-out with a personal trainer to help you set your exercises goals and decide on what equipment you like.

HuffyHow: Home Exercise Equipment

If you decide you want to exercise, but it’s not practical for you to get to a gym, then the next step is deciding what kind of equipment you need at home to get the exercise you want. Whatever you decide needs to be a workable solution for you. There is no point acquiring equipment that you don’t like or does not suit your needs or interests, no matter how wonderful it is. It will end up taking up space in your basement and wasting your money. The next few weeks we’ll look at practical options for home exercise, and how to choose equipment that’s right for you.

First, think about what exercise you want to do. Most people who are healthy enough to exercise vigorously will need a combination of aerobic or cardio exercise, and strength training.  The cardio exercise burns calories and keeps your cardiovascular system fit; the strength training tones and builds muscles.

Later we’ll talk about equipment for both kinds of exercise.