A few strategic pieces of equipment can help you step up your home workouts.
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You don't need a fancy gym to stay active and healthy. Instead, you can build an effective workout space at home with just a few pieces of equipment. We talked with Michael Lynch, M.S., CDCES, a clinical exercise physiologist in Seattle, and Michelle Adams, M.S., a kinesiology instructor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, to learn about different equipment and how they can improve your fitness. Read on to see their suggestions and find out where to buy them.


According to Lynch, "kettlebells look like a teapot made of solid iron and are used for exercises such as throwing and swinging. They're best for people with some exercise experience or those who can invest in a few sessions with a personal trainer. A 5-pound bell is a great place to start. You can progress as you get stronger."

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To buy: Yes4All Vinyl Coated Kettlebells, $18; amazon.com

Jump Rope

"Go back to the playground with a jump rope: a simple inexpensive tool that strengthens nearly every muscle in your body, including your heart. Even one minute of jumping is beneficial for your health; if you can work your way up to five minutes a day, even better," says Lynch.

Credit: Target

To buy: All In Motion - Speed Rope Gray, $6; target.com

Free Weights

"Nothing spells resistance training like free weights," notes Lynch. "With just one or two weights—say, 3 pounds and 5 pounds—you can complete a versatile and dynamic workout for your entire body, one that also strengthens joints and the supporting muscles around them."

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To buy: ZIVA Premium Rubber Hex Dumbbell, $30; amazon.com

Foam Roller

According to Adams, "foam rollers apply direct pressure to release tension from tissues in your hamstrings, back, shoulders, and other areas. Hold the roller in your hands and use it like a giant rolling pin—or [place it on the ground and] roll your body on top of it. In a few minutes a day, you can reduce pain, increase range of motion, and improve function."

Credit: Target

To buy: Trigger Point 18" Solid Core Foam Roller - Gray, $27; target.com

Balance Ball

"If you buy just one piece of equipment," Lynch says, "make it a balance ball. They're phenomenal for ab and core exercises and can also safely work your stability and balance. Check the chart for your height and make sure you choose the appropriate size."

Credit: Amazon

To buy: Gaiam Total Body Balance Ball Kit, $20; amazon.com

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