Choosing the best cardio equipment for a home gym

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Learn what to look for in treadmills, elliptical trainers and other machines before purchasing your home exercise cardio equipment.

The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology says you should get at least 150 minutes of moderate or vigorous cardiovascular exercise every week, and having one of these machines at home is a good way to squeeze extra workouts into a busy day.
1. Treadmills

This is the ideal exercise machine if you want to continue a walking or running habit indoors, particularly during the colder winter months.

If you’re buying one for everyone in your family to use, look for a sturdy treadmill that is rated to accommodate the weight of the heaviest user, and has a treadmill belt long and wide enough to accommodate the same user’s stride. The treadmill should not shake or squeak when you run on it, and should have a cushioned running deck, an easy-to-read display, and control buttons that are easy to understand.

Keep in mind that if you share a wall with neighbours or your home with loved ones, they will hear your every step on the treadmill. If you need a quieter machine, consider purchasing an elliptical trainer or stationary cycle instead.
2. Elliptical trainers

Elliptical trainers have pedals that travel through an elliptical arc and allow you to simulate the motion of running without a lot of impact on your joints. These machines also produce less noise than a treadmill. The only catch is that both the machine’s stride motion and the positioning of its moving handlebars must fit your body, so this isn’t the best choice if several people of different sizes will be sharing the same machine.

Look for a sturdy, stable elliptical trainer that doesn’t shake or squeak. Get on the elliptical and pedal before you buy it to ensure that it’s a comfortable fit for your body. This is an ideal exercise machine for working out in shared spaces.
3. Stationary cycles

If you’re an avid cyclist, a stationary cycle lets you continue your habit indoors during bad weather or dark, cold nights. This type of machine is especially ideal if you need to work out quietly or don’t have much space for storing large equipment. Look for a cycle with the narrowest pedal spacing possible, so it’ll feel more like riding a real bike.

If you don’t like the feeling of sitting on a conventional bicycle seat, you can opt for a recumbent cycle. These cycles position you somewhat behind the pedals instead of right on top of them, and usually feature a broad, wide seat that is comfortable for all body types.

Choosing the right sized soccer ball

Are you or your child thinking about joining a soccer league this year? Before you join the millions of soccer fans around the world, you need to buy a soccer ball. But it can’t be just any old ball, it has to be appropriate for your size or age. Keep in mind that a bigger ball means a bigger shock if it misses its target and hits you. Plus, for toddlers it’s easier to control a smaller ball.

Most recreational soccer leagues require kids to bring their own balls to practice sessions. You need to know what soccer ball to choose for your child’s size.

What soccer ball size to choose?

Follow these recommendations:

  • Choose a size 3 for future soccer stars under 10 years old
  • Choose a size 4 ball for players between 10 and 13 years old
  • Buy a size 5 ball for teens aged 13 and up and for adults

Which material is best?

Select a ball that’s made of a material suited to your kind of play. Here are some tips.

  • Rubber is affordable and durable. It’s suitable for amateur soccer players.
  • Leather, the traditional material, is more expensive. It absorbs water and can become heavy.
  • Polyurethane is durable and has good water-repellent properties. Many youth soccer leagues use these.
  • PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is suitable for young players. In addition to being affordable, these balls are lighter and more durable than polyurethane balls.
  • Latex is the best under-layer for soccer balls.

Keep in mind that you don’t need a cutting-edge ball if you just want to scrimmage with friends. But if you want to join a league or you dream of becoming the next Pelé, it’s worth getting something that will last and handle well.

How many panels should the ball have?

Did you know that the number of panels it has determines how a ball travels in the air? It also affects the amount of control a player has over the ball. The fewer panels there are, the more aerodynamic and faster it is. The more panels, the more control the player has over the ball. The vast majority of balls on the market have 32 panels.

Once you’ve decided what soccer ball to choose, you’ll be just about ready to play. All that’s left to do is inflate the ball to the recommended pressure indicated on it. You’ll soon see that having an underinflated ball is about as much fun as getting a red card.

How to choose a hockey stick

The right ice hockey stick can help improve your skills and make you a better player, but there’s more to choosing a stick than the length and material. Here’s what you need to know to find the stick that fits your style of play.

Types of hockey sticks

Wood: Wood hockey sticks have been replaced by composite types at almost every level of the sport. Even so, wood sticks are inexpensive and easily cut to the player’s size, making them great for beginners.

One-piece composite: A composite hockey stick made of carbon fibre and graphite offers a lightweight yet durable shaft and superior flexibility. One-piece construction means there is no break or seam between the blade and the shaft.

Two-piece composite: The two-piece composite allows you to replace your shaft or blade between games, making it both versatile and cost-effective for players still figuring out their style.

Features and factors to consider when choosing a hockey stick

There are a few things to consider before purchasing a hockey stick.

Shaft: The shaft gives you control over your hockey stick. Consider material, length, flexibility and grip when making your purchase.

Blade: The blade’s angle and degree of curve improves puck-handling and passing accuracy. Consider your playing style when choosing a blade.

Toe: A curved toe (at the end of the blade) makes it easier for offensive players to lift the puck and for defensive players to control it.

Left-handed/right-handed: This indicates the direction of the curve in the stick blade. A right-handed person often uses a left-handed hockey stick and vice versa. Try out the sticks for yourself and get one that feels right.

Playing position: Shorter sticks allow forwards and offensive players to keep better control of the puck, closer to the body and well-protected. Longer sticks offer defensive players more leverage and superior reach for intercepting passes and retrieving loose pucks.

Length: To measure a stick for the correct length, stand it in front of you with the blade on the ground. The top of the shaft should reach your nose if you’re wearing shoes or your chin if you’re wearing skates.

Skating style: Players who handle the puck close to the ice do best with a wider angle or flatter stick lie between the shaft and blade, while a player skating with a more upright stance will do best with a narrower or steeper stick lie.

Flex: Flex refers to the stiffness of the shaft. A stiffer flex adds power to slapshots and stick-checking for defensemen. A more flexible shaft improves the shooting accuracy of offensive players.

Grip: A rubber grip is an optional piece that slides onto the top of the shaft, or you can make your own by wrapping the top of the shaft with hockey tape. A grip can improve stick control and prevent the shaft from slipping out of your hands.

Your stick is a piece of hockey equipment that has to feel right. Make sure you choose the type and style of stick that best suits your game and lets you play with confidence.

9 key features to look for when you buy a fitness tracker

With more people leading healthier lifestyles, the use of fitness trackers is on the rise. Which one is best for you? Here are nine key features to look for in the quest to be fit.
As fitness bands and activity trackers have become more popular, it can be tough to know which styles will put you at the top of your game. Here are nine key features to lookfor in a fitness tracker to help you get in shape with ease.

Nine key fitness tracker features

Choosing a fitness tracker is all about the features you want to have. Look for these options:

  1. Distance tracker: Any fitness tracker will log your steps and distance over a workout. Higher-end fitness bands offer distance tracking over larger periods of times to assess your fitness progression.
  2. Calorie tracker: Most fitness bands will track the number of calories you burn to let you know the precise outcome of your workouts. Some fitness bands also have calorie intake and weight trackers. These allow you to input your food intake and weigh calories burned against calories eaten.
  3. Heart rate monitor: The heart rate monitor allows you to gauge and control the intensity of your workout.
  4. Sleep tracking: Sleep tracking allows you to monitor the length and quality of your sleep. This option is great for anyone looking to improve general fitness and physical health.
  5. Display size: Bigger displays allow you to more easily navigate through the different functions of your fitness band. The tradeoff is bulk for browsability.
  6. Wireless technology capable: This feature allows you to quickly and easily connect your fitness band to your other wireless devices.
  7. Water and sweat resistance: Water and sweat resistance is important for prolonging the life of your workout tracker.
  8. Water proofing: For swimming laps in the pool, water resistance will not be enough. Waterproof fitness bands are perfect for swimmers or anyone looking for the extra workout option.
  9. Adjustable band: Bands often have slats or another mechanism for adjusting comfortably to your wrist.

Factors to consider

Compatibility: Fitness bands may offer tracker software or compatibility with your computer or mobile device to let you view and track your progress.

  • Look for brands that are built to connect seamlessly with your devices. Some fitness trackers have corresponding apps to further control your workout through your mobile device.

Battery life: Some fitness bands are more energy efficient than others and can be used for longer without having to charge up or replace the batteries.

  • Find a balance between usability and battery life with brand-specific battery life estimates and customer reviews.

Size: A well-fitting band is essential for running and other sporting activities.

  • Find a band that adjusts and isn’t too clunky on your wrist.

A user-friendly and reliable fitness band makes your workout a no-brainer. Track your fitness goals with the press of a button, so you can clear your head and focus on becoming healthier and stronger.