Cardiovascular exercise can play a critical role in maintaining spine health and ensuring progress in recovery from back pain or surgery. Balancing aerobic (or cardiovascular) exercise, which works the heart, with anaerobic strengthening exercises and stretching can deliver both physical and mental benefits for back pain patients, allowing them to:
- Maintain a healthy weight or lose weight
- Relieve stress, anxiety, and depression
- Increase flexibility and mobility
- Improve strength of muscles and joints that support the spine
- Increase circulation throughout the spine and supporting structures, which is crucial to promote healing
- Improve quality and duration of sleep
While the physical or mechanical benefits captured through exercise are important for spine health, the mental health benefits can also be substantial. Cardiovascular exercise in particular promotes the release of endorphins, biological chemicals that naturally help alleviate sensations of pain and produce overall positive feelings. Activity that leads to improved emotional well-being is particularly important for spine patients because depression and anxiety, as well as sleep problems, are common among those struggling with chronic back pain or recuperating from surgery or treatment. Cardiovascular exercise – whether in the form of walking, swimming, biking, or some other activity – can play a key role in helping decrease the pain one senses and increase positive feeling.
For many, ready access to home exercise equipment can make it easier to start and maintain an aerobic exercise program. Exercising in the comfort of one’s own home is the preferred exercise option for many people because:
- Exercise can be done in private
- Workouts can be done at any time and don’t require travel to another location during limited hours
- Unlike outdoor activities home exercise is not dependent on the weather, so staying with an exercise program may be easier
Nonetheless, it can be confusing to know which type of exercise equipment to buy, and making a mistake with cardiovascular equipment can be detrimental to both physical and financial health.
Today we will focus on home equipment that is designed for a cardiovascular workout. Other types of exercise equipment for resistance training and exercise are also important parts of an exercise program for back pain patients.
The types of cardiovascular home exercise equipment are:
- Elliptical trainer
- Stationary bike
There are several types of home exercise equipment that are gentle on the lower back and spine, provide a good cardiovascular workout, and could be incorporated into a home exercise routine. Selecting and investing in the right equipment is made easier if the following factors are considered:
- Which types of exercise are most enjoyable? Individuals who enjoy a particular form of exercise, such as power walking, can choose home exercise equipment that facilitates that activity – like a treadmill – or contains elements of that activity in a broader routine.
- How much variety will the exercise equipment provide? Exercise equipment that has adjustable resistance, speeds, positions, or uses can provide a more varied workout, allowing the user to increase or decrease the difficulty of the activity as fitness and endurance are developed.
- Where will the home exercise equipment be used and stored? Some machines can be folded or adjusted for more compact storage, but some large equipment is not easily moved without heavy lifting or pushing, which may not be possible or desirable for all people. When determining how much space the equipment will need, measurements should include all the positions and extensions on the machine. Some equipment, like elliptical trainers, may be too tall to fit in a basement with a low ceiling.
- How reliable is the brand? It is ideal to find out what experience others have had with the model under consideration. Often the Internet is a good resource for easily locating ratings and reviews about certain brands of exercise equipment, and many people find independent third party reviews helpful (such as Consumer Reports, Epinions.com, etc.). In addition, many new machines have warranties. Check to see what is covered and how long the warranty lasts.
- How much will it cost? Cardiovascular home exercise equipment can range from a few hundred dollars to $5,000 for a gym-quality elliptical machine or treadmill. For those on a budget, buying used home exercise equipment allows for a higher-quality or larger purchase than would be affordable if that same model was purchased new.
Ideally, it is best to test the make and model of the equipment you’d like to purchase at a local gym or sporting goods store This will help you to determine if it fits your personal exercise program and the space in the home where it would be kept.