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Inex­pensive equipment alte­rnative to gym

Consumer Reports says stability balls, jump ropes, hula hoops can do the trick


If joining the January rush to a gym isn't in your budget,  you can set up a home gym without giving your wallet a workout.


"All you need are a few inexpensive props and a good fitness routine to get started," said Consumer Reports' Gayle Williams.


For starters, a $30 stability ball can help you build core strength and improve balance.  You can also use it to tone your glutes and legs.


Jumping rope for 15 minutes provides an instant cardio workout.  A  jump rope with non-slip handles costs about $6.


For another $6, a hula hoop can help with cardio and waist-trimming.


"Elastic bands or tubes are another great item to have," Williams said. "You can  use them for resistance training to strengthen and tone your muscles."


They cost $8 and up.


A $20 exercise mat can take some of the pain out of  floor exercises.  And free weights costing between $10 and $60 are another  useful tool.


To develop a good routine with aerobic exercise, experts say aim for 30 minutes five days a week and do strength training two to three days a week.


One beneficial exercise doesn't have to cost a thing: walking.


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