Buying Exercise Videos

Two common barriers many people cite as reasons why they fail to incorporate physical activity as a regular lifestyle habit are not enough time and not being able to use or access exercise equipment. Utilizing exercise videotapes gives you the benefit of not having to leave your home to workout and can be used for whatever length of time you have available. Use the following tips to help you add appropriate exercise videotapes to your physical activity program.  

  1. All tapes should include a warm-up and cool-down.
  2. Stretches should last a minimum of 10 seconds, otherwise hit the pause button on your VCR to hold the stretch 10 to 30 seconds.
  3. Aerobic tapes should take time to monitor exercise intensity using breathing and/or heart rate range. All tapes should periodically address taking time to tune in to how you feel so you adjust workloads accordingly.
  4. Check total time of exercise. A tape may be 60 minutes in length, yet only include 20 minutes of structured exercise. Beginning exercisers can benefit from 10 to 20 minutes of cardiovascular activity. Intermediate/advanced participants should aim for a minimum of 20 minutes of aerobic exercise.
  5. Rent videos before buying to evaluate. Also visit for video samples and user feedback. Preview to determine if you like the music, pace of the instructor and level of choreography.
  6. Look for videos where the instructor clearly demonstrates the moves and includes ways to modify for higher/lower intensity. This will allow you to continue to use the tape as your fitness level progresses.
  7. Use a variety of exercise tapes to achieve different fitness goals. Choose aerobic/walking/step tapes to strengthen the heart, manage body weight or build stamina. Choose yoga, tai chi or pilates to reduce stress and increase flexibility, agility, muscle toning and/or core strengthening. Or choose resistance tapes using hand weights, rubber or tension bands to help build bone strength, lose weight or tone muscle.
  8. Choose an appropriate impact level. Low impact tapes typically keep one foot on the ground at all times to help with balance and to limit stress placed on the knees and back. Higher impact activities (jumps, hops) will elicit a greater cardiovascular response although they will increase the stress placed on the joints.
  9. Like any workout, video selection should be individualized, based on your own interests, exercise history and goals.
  10. Check with your physician before starting a vigorous exercise program, or if you experience symptoms (such as chest pain, dizziness or shortness of breath), or have two or more risk factors for heart disease.

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