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Strength training requires little special equipment, but there are a few basic necessities:

  • A sturdy chair and exercise space
    Find a strong, stable chair without arms that does not rock or sway when you sit in it or move when you stand up from it. When you're seated in the chair, your knees should be at a 90-degree angle and your feet should be flat on the ground. If the chair is too high, find one with shorter legs; if it's too low, try putting a pillow or a folded blanket on the seat to give you a slight boost.

    photo of two people walkingFor your exercise space, choose an open area, preferably carpeted, with at least enough space for your chair and ample room to walk around it. Carpeting will prevent the chair from sliding. On bare floor, put your chair against the wall. If you think you might like to exercise to music or while watching television, plan your space accordingly.
  • Good shoes
    Good shoes are essential for any exercise. For strength training, try athletic shoes with good support, such as walking, running, or cross-training sneakers. The sole should be rubber, but not too thick, as fat soles may cause you to trip. If you don't already have shoes that fit this description, you can find them at sporting goods, discount, and department stores.
  • Comfortable clothing
    Wear loose, cool, comfortable clothing that breathes well during exercise—for example, a cotton T-shirt and cotton shorts or pants. If you want to purchase new workout clothes, look for materials that readily absorb moisture and breathe well.
  • photo of dumbellsDumbbells (hand-held weights) and ankle weights
    You can complete the first part of the exercise program without weights, but as you get stronger and add new exercises, you will need dumbbells and ankle weights. It's a good idea to buy these before you begin strength training, or as soon as possible after you start, so that you'll have them on hand when you're ready to add them to your program. Your minimum purchase should include a set of two dumbbells in each of the following weights:
    Two poundsThree pounds
    Three poundsFive pounds
    Five poundsEight pounds

    The best ankle weights for this program are the adjustable type. These allow you to add weight gradually in increments of a half-pound or full pound, until you reach as much as ten or twenty pounds per leg.

    In purchasing this equipment, you have several choices:

    Newspaper, want-adsInexpensiveUsed; can't return
    Sporting goods storeCan test productSlightly more expensive
    Mail orderConvenientShipping costly

    Some stores and mail-order companies offer specials that include a set of one-pound, three-pound, and five-pound weights at substantial savings. This is a good starter kit; later you can buy heavier dumbbell sets.

  • Storage container
    For safety reasons, consider storing your weights in a floor-level cupboard or in a container such as a wooden box or canvas bag—preferably on a cart with wheels for easy relocation to your exercise spot. Storage containers and wheeled carts are usually available at local department and discount stores. If you choose not to use a cart, try to keep your weights in the area where you exercise to minimize transporting the weights from one area to another. Also, be mindful to store weights out of the reach of children and in a place where people will not trip over them.

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 2014 State Indicator Report on Physical Activity cover The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
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