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  • By Lisa Jevens

Small Exercise Gadgets Do a Big Job

Not everyone needs to join a gym at the start of a new year to get in better shape. For many people, it’s much easier to exercise in their own home at their own convenience. Fortunately, you do not need to buy large, expensive exercise machines to work various muscle groups. Nor do you need a lot of space. Here are some small exercise gadgets that can be easily stowed in a small apartment.

1. Mini Exercise Bike

Mini exercise bikes can be used while seated in a chair, which makes them a perfect form of exercise for those who are unsteady. Some can also be set on a tabletop where the user “pedals” with their arms. They are often used in physical therapy for these reasons. The Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Mini Exercise Bike (model SF-B0418) has an eight-level tension controller and safety straps on the pedals. An LCD display shows time, distance, speed and more. It has a handle on top to make it easier to put away when you’re done exercising. Available online for about $100 from Walmart, Amazon, Sears, and more.

2. Ab Roller

You may have seen ab rollers or ab wheels on TV infomercials. They are basically small weighted wheels with handles on either side. You lean on them in a kneeling position and roll back and forth to work your abdominal muscles. And since it’s a wheel, it’s easy to roll out of sight. The Perfect Fitness Ab Carver Pro is a top seller on Amazon. It’s a nice, wide roller with built-in resistance and ergonomic handles, designed to be used in a left or right direction, as well as straight ahead. Includes a high-density foam kneepad for more comfortable workouts. The Ab Carver Pro weighs about 5 pounds and sells for $22 at Amazon.

3. Fitness Bands

Fitness bands are basically super long, wide rubber bands that can take a lot of pressure. They are probably the lightest of all fitness equipment. Bands come in sets of different colors, and each color is a different resistance. Fitness bands can assist you with exercises like leg lifts, Pilates exercises, resistance training with your arms, and ankle and foot stretches. The Fitness Gear Power Band Kit is sold at Dick’s Sporting Goods for $18. Instructions are included.

4. Soft Hand Grips

Most people do not think of working the muscles in their hands, but it’s a place where older people often lose necessary strength. Sunny Health & Fitness Soft Hand Grips are small enough to leave lying around, and are a great activity to do while watching TV. The foam handles prevent slipping. The Hand Grips measure 5-inches long. Available at Walmart for about $8. Hint: You can order online and pickup for free at your local store.

5. Sports Hoop

Remember hula hoops? Now there are weighted sports hoops designed to help you exercise and have fun at the same time. They are thicker and heavier than traditional hollow plastic hula hoops. The weight makes it more of a workout because it requires more energy to spin the hoop. Sports Hoop Trim Hoops come in different weights and sizes, so be sure to check that the weight and size is right for you before ordering. Sports Hoop Trim Hoops come with an exercise DVD. They come apart in eight pieces for easy storage and sell for about $30 on Amazon.

This story was originally published in the Chicago Tribune Prime Time senior living section on February 17, 2017.

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