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Fitness Gifts for Home Workout Buffs

These days, working from home is more common and many are shying away from the gym atmosphere. This typically means less activity during the day. How to motivate yourself and others? How about exciting and versatile fitness equipment that takes up little space? Check these options out:

Strength Training Tools

Loop Resistance bands: not new but always highly recommended. They are lightweight, portable and inexpensive. Resistance bands enable you to work all muscle groups. Check out Fit Simplify or LetsFit Loop resistance bands. A set includes 5 bands of varying resistance levels, extra light to extra heavy.

Bowflex SelectTech adjustable weight: not unlike the original SelectTech dumbbells, this is a kettlebell version that replaces a set of 6 kettlebells. Twist the dial on this adjustable kettlebell to transition from 8 lbs all the way up to 40 lbs. Great for accommodating multiple exercisers without taking up too much space.

Suspension trainer: suspension training is a strength training system that uses ropes and webbing to allow a user to work against his/her own body weight. Using vertical or horizontal ‘anchor points’ enables you to increase or decrease resistance with changes in angle and degree. Perform all classic strength training exercises in new ways. Try the TRX suspension training systems or LifeLine Jungle Gym.

Cardiovascular Training Aids

Seated under desk elliptical: while not a full-body workout, this piece of equipment at least allows you to work your legs and get in some exercise. With Zoom meetings and sitting at your desk working from home being much more common these days, mini elliptical trainers are great for increasing activity and offer adjustable resistance. Check out a few of the top-rated models.

Just a pedometer: Looking to increase activity and track steps? Not looking for a pricey watch or ‘smart’ gadget? Try the 3DTriSport Walking 3D pedometer. This basic step counter accurately measures steps, is inexpensive, easy to use and works in any position. It will measure your steps whether it’s upside-down, around your neck or tossed in a bag.

Top Food, Weight Loss and Nutrition ‘Apps...

Whether you have an Apple or an Android phone … it’s hard to do without ‘apps.’ A mobile application, (mobile app) is a software application designed to run on mobile or portable devices such as smart phones, tablet computers, etc. They are usually operated by the owner of the mobile operating system, such as Apple, Google, Windows (think Apple App store, Google Play and Windows Phone store). There are free apps and those that must be purchased. After downloading the software, you can use the ‘app.’ Initially designed to increase general productivity and enhance information retrieval, apps now cover games, music, banking, etc.

There are dozens of food, nutrition, weight loss and fitness/exercise apps designed to help you live a healthier life. Before downloading anything that looks interesting consider that doing so means info overload. Interested in knowing which are the best according to registered dietitians (RDs)? Check these picks out for October and look for regular bi-monthly updates for new options:

SparkRecipes: Easy-to-use, offers thousands of healthy recipes that you can categorize and organize according to various criteria, such as cuisine, occasion, dietary needs…you can save favorite recipes and convert common cooking measures. Cons: nutrition facts for recipes are user-generated and may not be correct/reliable. Platform: Apple, Android & Blackberry

iCookbook Diabetic: Summary: from the editors of Diabetic Cooking (and the original iCookbook app), contains over 500 recipes sorted by category (30-minute meals, vegetarian, slow-cooker, low-carb, etc). Offers a tool to scale ingredients to change recipe yield (portions), also offers  nutrition analysis and dietary exchanges for each recipe. Platform: Apple

Fooducate Nutrition Scanner: Summary: Perhaps not a stand-alone app for overall better nutrition but a nifty tool nonetheless and a great companion to a nutrition plan. Fooducate allows you to scan a food’s UPC and it will tell you the nutrition facts (and more…such as if the sodium level is dangerous, for instance). It ‘grades’ the food relative to its alternatives and even helps you to pick a healthier selection (say, for a protein bar). Overall, you can improve your food choices. Platform: Apple, Android

Calorie Counter MyNetDiary: Summary: Weight loss/management involves tracking what you take in calorie-wise. Apps are useful tools for taking some of the work out of calorie-counting. This app is a useful nutrition aid as it tracks your calorie intake, AND your exercise to help take the guesswork out of your calorie balance for better weight management. Charts and graphs provide feedback on your progress. Like Fooducate, you can scan the bar code of packaged food OR type the first few letters of the name of a specific dish to search from over 420,000 foods contained in the database. Platform: Apple, Android

Food Tripping: Summary: A great food finder for your vicinity….locates everything from small business food artisans to national food and market chains. Customizable search results based on categories such as  farmers markets, coffee/tea, juice joints, microbreweries and vegan/vegetarian options. Businesses are searchable by name, location and category. Platform: Apple, Android