Registered Dietitian Melanie Douglass highlights her top five picks for accessories to help your workout.
1. MP3 Player: good workout music is a MUST for every workout. A steady beat will help you keep a consistent workout pace—and that means you’ll burn more calories and get a better return for your time. If you don’t like to workout to music, use an mp3 player to download audio workouts created by certified personal trainers, like www.podfitness.com.
2. Metronome: this may seem like a surprise, but a simple $15.00 metronome can make a huge difference in your workout. Many people aren’t sure what the beats per minute are for their favorite workout songs and therefore don’t use music that is fast enough to keep the workout challenging; and some people like to watch TV while working out instead of listening to music. If you set a metronome to a simple 125 – 140 beats per minute and simply walk to the beat, you’ll get a heart-pumping workout—even while watching TV.
3. Pedometer: these handy trackers are cheap, easy to use, and super effective motivators! You can find pedometers for as little as $5.00. They track the number of steps you take each day and can also can also track your % of goal as you walk around throughout the day. Set a goal to walk about 10,000 steps per day, 3 – 5 days per week—this can be done as you work, clean house, work out, etc., any steps count toward that 10,000 goal.
4. Heart Rate Monitor: a heart rate monitor consists of a comfortable strap that you wear around your chest and a tracking watch that continually displays your heart rate. Heart rate monitors can track your progress in many ways: by heart beats per minute, by % heart rate max, by training zone, by total workout time, and my personal favorite, by total calories burned. If you find yourself wondering if are working at the right intensity, then try a heart rate monitor. It will clear up all the confusion so you can get the best workout in the shortest amount of time.
5. Foam Roller: a foam roller is a 6″ circular piece of foam that is used for “self myofascial release”, or “SMR”. SMR is something that many people don’t do—but should. It’s kind of a combination between stretching and massage. It helps to release muscle knots, reduce aches and pains, increase range of motion, and correct muscle imbalances. Most of us aren’t motivated to work out when we are in pain—SMR helps to keep the muscles in proper balance so that you feel good—before, during and after exercise. Find a foam roller that comes with an instructional DVD or how-to booklet to ensure you use it properly.
For more information, you can visit Melanie’s website, or go to www.podfitness.com for ideas on how to improve your workout.
Melanie Douglass, R.D., NASM
Author: Tip-a-Day Guide to Healthy Living
(Deseret Book, 2007)