The 4 best exercise balls we tested in 2021

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  • An exercise ball is perfect for working on stability and flexibility and makes bodyweight exercises harder.
  • The best exercise balls have a durable exterior, are mild flexibility, and retain air well.
  • Our top pick, the TheraBand Exercise and Stability Ball, has thick walls and holds air even if punctured.

Exercise balls might seem like a boring piece of workout equipment that sits in the corner of the gym with no one using it. But that’s only because it’s an overlooked dark horse – the benefits of adding one to your workout far outweigh any perceived dullness. In fact, as a part of a home gym setup, an exercise ball has the ability to greatly improve one’s core strength while also helping hone balance and flexibility.

Whether it accompanies a daily workout routine or becomes the central focal point, an exercise ball can be an important part of anyone’s plan to keep fit and healthy. (For what it’s worth, while many used to think using an exercise ball in lieu of your home office chair was better for your spine, experts actually recommend against it now.)

To find the best exercise balls worth using, I tested an assortment of models from brands like TheraBand, DynaPro, and Wacces. The goal was to find those that fit a variety of use cases, like being portable or constructed of a thicker material that increases its durability. After spending the last several months using exercise balls as both my office chair and main workout partner, I narrowed the list down to my four favorites listed below.

At the end of this guide, I’ve also included some insight into what to look for in a quality ball, the exact benefits of using one, and why they’re an important part of anyone’s home gym setup.

Here are the best exercise balls:

The best exercise ball overall

exercise ball

The TheraBand Exercise and Stability Ball holds air better than most exercise balls — even if it’s punctured.

Pros: Maintains its shape and holds air better than other exercise balls, includes a slow deflate technology if the ball is punctured, extremely firm, has a good surface for just the right amount of grip, offered in four sizes

Cons: Takes a long time to inflate, no inflation pump included, only one color per size

One common complaint among exercise ball fans is the inability of the ball to hold air over time. As air leaks out of the ball, it loses its firmness and becomes difficult to use. The TheraBand Exercise and Stability Ball, though, is one of the thickest-walled balls you can buy, and it holds air longer than most of the competition.

Even if it’s punctured, the ball will deflate very slowly, allowing you to finish your workout. Because the Theraband Exercise Ball retains air so well, you won’t have to reinflate it that often, which is a very good thing because this ball does take quite a bit of time to inflate in the first place.

The exercise ball is available in four sizes from 45 cm to 75 cm and it comes in a few colors.

The best portable exercise ball

DynaPro Exercise Ball

The DynaPro Exercise Ball is extremely durable and will hold its air pressure nicely, but it’s also portable, thanks to its easy-to-carry hand pump.

Pros: Good price point, easy to fill while on the go because of an included hand pump, very durable material in the ball, prevents fast leaks when it suffers a puncture, available in four sizes and four different colors

Cons: Cannot fully inflate the ball the first time you use it, firmness level of the ball seems below average

When you’re looking for an exercise ball you can take with you anywhere, the DynaPro Exercise Ball is a good idea. It ships with a hand pump and inflates faster than many other balls, so you can be ready to use it within several minutes.

The ball is available in four sizes, ranging from 45 cm to 75 cm, and it features slight ribs around the circumference of the ball to ensure a steady grip. You can get it in a few fun colors, including pink, blue, silver, gray, and black.

Like many exercise balls, you can also use it for active seating in your office. Unlike most exercise balls, it’s available in gray or black, which fits in better with an office setting than a brightly colored ball. 

This is a tough, durable exercise ball, featuring a 2,000-pound burst rating. The ball also slowly deflates if it ever suffers a puncture, allowing you to finish your workout safely.

However, the ball cannot be inflated fully the first time you use it. You’ll have to inflate it fully after it’s had 2-3 days to stretch out.

The best exercise ball for bigger bodies

tall man exercise ball

The Live Infinitely Exercise Ball receives high marks for its durability and ability to stand up to tough workouts.

Pros: Excellent price point, durable and tough exercise ball that can withstand 2,200 pounds of weight, available in as large as 95 cm diameter, five color and five size options, includes a large library of online exercise guides

Cons: There is no 45 cm diameter size option in this model, difficult to fully inflate this ball

We’re not here to say what an average-sized body is or who is bigger-than-average. But if you’ve ever sat on an exercise ball before and felt like it couldn’t support your height, width, weight, or frame for whatever reason, you need a ball that is bigger and more durable so you aren’t worrying about it popping or slipping out from under you.

In fact, you want your exercise ball to correspond to your size for a few reasons: When you’re sitting on it, you want it to be durable enough to hold your weight and wide enough to hold your buttocks. When you put it underfoot in plank or, say, Bulgarian split squats, the height of the ball influences your form; too small of a ball and your feet are below your hips which can compromise the integrity of your movements, for example.

Because of this, a ball that’s right for someone who’s 5’3 isn’t going to fit someone who’s 6’8, and someone who is 350lbs needs a more durable construction than someone who is 150lbs. (Learn more about What to look for in an exercise ball.)

The Live Infinitely Exercise Ball is one of the few options that comes in five sizes ranging from 55 cm to 95 cm. You can also choose between five colors, including blue, green, gray, purple, and silver.

What’s more, it can hold up to 2,200 pounds of pressure. So while we doubt you’ll ever max out its capabilities, the Live Infinitely Exercise Ball allows you to feel comfortable and secure putting all your weight and force onto it, regardless of your size.

The best budget exercise ball

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If you want an affordable exercise ball that’s also durable, the Wacces Fitness and Exercise ball is a great option.

Pros: Extremely low price point, good build quality versus similarly priced exercise balls, surface has just enough grip to prevent slippage, ribs around circumference of ball provide extra grip, offered in eight colors

Cons: Only available in three sizes, difficult to fully inflate it first time you use it, doesn’t hold air pressure as well as some models

With some low-priced exercise balls, you may feel wary about placing your full weight on them for fear of an exploding ball that leaves you crashing onto the floor. But the durability of the Wacces Fitness and Exercise Ball gives you the peace of mind you’ll need to use this inexpensive ball to its fullest.

Even though it’s less expensive than other options, this ball is still quite durable and has a good grippy surface. The biggest downside is that it doesn’t support as much weight as more high-end exercise balls.

You can pick between three different sizes, ranging from 55 cm to 75 cm. It’s also available in eight colors, including black, blue, gray, green, pink, purple, red, or yellow.

What to look for in an exercise ball

Yes, an exercise ball is a simple, large round ball that looks like every other exercise ball at first glance. There are still several key differences you can pay attention to when looking to find the right exercise ball to meet your needs.

  • Ease of adding air: Some exercise balls include an air pump, however, most of these pumps work very slowly. If you want a faster option, you should be able to use almost any type of pump to inflate your exercise ball, such as an air mattress pump, a bicycle tire pump, or even an air compressor. To determine when the ball is properly filled with air, measure its diameter.
  • Extras: Depending on the model of exercise ball you pick, you may find the ball ships with an air pump, exercise bands, a stability ring, stability legs, a measuring tape, an exercise tip guide, or handles built into the ball. 
  • Size: The size of a stability ball is determined by its diameter. Common sizes of exercise balls range from 45 cm to 85 cm in 10 cm intervals. (Ten centimeters is roughly 4 inches.) People shorter than 5 feet will have the best results with sitting on a 45 cm ball, 6-feet-tall people will want a 65 cm ball, and those 6-foot-8 and taller will want an 85 cm ball. 
  • Supported weight: Exercise balls should offer supported weight limits for static weight and body weight. Static weight refers to the weight the ball supports without bursting when the user is not moving. Bodyweight refers to the weight it can support when the user is exercising. High-end balls may support static weight limits of 2,200 pounds and body weights of 500 pounds. A stability ball placed under too much weight or stress could burst.

Exercise ball benefits

man family exercise ball

People use an exercise ball for two main reasons: to workout with and to sit on. While we fully support using this accessory in your workout, most chiropractors and physical therapists actually recommend you don’t trade your office chair for a ball. Studies have found it not only makes prolonged sitting more uncomfortable, but it doesn’t actually activate your muscles better and may in fact contribute to spinal shrinkage (aka slumping). This is all because you must keep your core engaged for optimal spinal alignment, and it’s incredibly hard to maintain perfect posture when sitting for a long time.

That being said, an exercise ball is safe and a great challenge to your body during a workout, where you’re only stabilizing against it for a few minutes at a time. Here are some of the primary benefits exercise balls provide during a workout:

  • Improved balance: You’ll naturally strengthen your abs and back muscles while using an exercise ball because you must subtly shift your weight to remain balanced. As these muscles strengthen, your overall balance improves.
  • Core strength: Athletes constantly talk about the importance of having core strength in the body, as it gives you great balance and coordination. Using an exercise ball increases core strength.
  • Muscle work: Because you have to continually adjust your weight slightly to maintain your balance on the ball, you’ll be using different muscle groups, which benefits your whole body.
  • Rehabilitation and flexibility: You’ll stretch muscles and joints while moving around. Physical therapists sometimes assign a set of exercises using an exercise ball for people to follow as part of rehabilitating a specific joint or muscle group to gain more range of motion.
  • Specific exercises: If you enjoy exercises like Pilates or yoga, you’ll gain some additional benefits by incorporating an exercise ball into the routine.

Why exercise balls are an important part of a home gym

Despite their inherent value, exercise balls aren’t typically the first piece of gear you think of when piecing together a home gym. The truth is in the application, as they work for a host of exercises requiring flexible support. Even though an exercise ball is round, it gives you a base that’s more solid than you might think and provides impressive stability.  

The balls compress when weight is put on them to create a flatter, more stable edge. It won’t be as stable as a normal chair but it’s far more solid than you’d expect — which is what makes them great for everything from active seating to working out.

An exercise ball is an amazing addition to any ab workout, as you can hold it between your feet to bump the challenge of leg raises or prop your feet on the ball during plank for more of a core challenge. You can also sit on the ball instead of a bench to activate your core during simple exercises like chest flys and overhead presses. (Learn more from our guide on the best at-home exercise ball routines.)

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Why non-negotiable downtime is the most beneficial habit for your professional growth

running exercise catching breath fitness workout
Keeping your body in shape can help you keep your business in shape.

  • If you want to grow your business, creating space and stillness in your life must be non-negotiable.
  • Developing healthy habits will help you turn downtime into a valuable asset to your career.
  • Create a rest routine, take time to reflect, and follow a fitness schedule to keep your body going.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

You want to change the world, so you work long, tireless hours, your mind never shuts off, and your body never rests. It feels as if your life were burning on both ends of the candlestick, but you can’t seem to let yourself stop.

I used to live that way, too. The idea of taking a break or resting was unimaginable. And the few evenings when I attempted to unwind and enjoy some free time, all I did was feel guilty about stepping away. I’d wind up returning to work later into the night than usual.

Was it healthy? No. Was I more productive? Not necessarily.

Here’s the truth. If you want to actually impart change, drive your mission forward, and grow your business, then creating space and stillness in your life must be non-negotiable. To do so requires a mindset shift away from thinking breaks are bad. To turn downtime into a valuable asset, I started to do the following three actions.

Schedule your downtime

Most people think taking breaks is spontaneous, but the best way to stop is to plan accordingly. When nighttime comes around, your circadian rhythm and body know without consciously thinking that it’s time to sleep. You’re training your body and mind to anticipate shutting down. You can impart this same level of shift within your daily or weekly schedule.

Create a routine for your rest. Whether it’s a block of time in the morning, a day during the week, or a few minutes throughout the day, plan time to take a break and stick to it. Every Wednesday and Sunday, for example, I have blocked off time specifically for relaxation and reflection. This has become a non-negotiable in my life in order to instill the habit within my mind and the cycle within my body to unwind. Taking downtime becomes a habit, similar to that of checking email.

Read more: Breaking these 3 bad habits will increase work productivity, according to a doctor and CEO

Participate in reflection

The thoughts and ideas that flow through your mind are how you raise your value as a leader. So use moments of pause to bolster your brain’s ability to think stronger and faster.

Take space to allow yourself to think. Focus on an aspect of business that you want to improve. Think about where you want to be and whether you are on the fastest path to get there.

In our society, we have become accustomed to constantly being stimulated and entertained. As a result, we must actively block time to find stillness, and allow these moments of perceived boredom to spark inner dreams and allow creativity to flourish. During this time, hold no judgment of the ideas you come up with.

You don’t need to work 12 grueling hours each day. You need one moment of insight.

Take care of your body

Some of the biggest deterrents to actual wealth creation and success are not resources, investors, or a strong supply chain; it’s your personal health. If you are energized, you are more likely to act and be bold when you experience fear or moments of opportunity. If you have taken care of yourself, you can more easily show up to connect with and support your employees, partners, and customers.

You are the leader within your organization. If something happens to you, everything is compromised. You must take care of yourself as if you are going to be around for a while. During your moments of space, create a wellness routine, navigate your fitness schedule, and give your body, mind, and spirit what it needs most. Some days, this looks like hitting the gym really hard, and other days, it consists of meditating, getting a massage, or reading a book.

Health is a resource that you can always provide to yourself.

Creating space for downtime in your life is necessary. After all, the entrepreneur road isn’t an end goal, it is a way of life. If you want to enjoy it for the long term, you must be willing to pause, reflect, and rejuvenate. It might just land you farther forward than those late nights at the office ever could.

Read the original article on Business Insider

I paid $150 to try the popular weight-loss app backed by investors like Tony Xu and Scooter Braun. It taught me better eating habits, but keeping the weight off was harder than expected.

Health Weight Loss Fork Food
Noom uses science and psychology to promote healthy eating and living.

  • Noom is a weight-loss app that uses a psychology-based approach to change your eating habits.
  • One freelancer tried Noom for over 8 months to shed some pounds and prevent pandemic weight gain.
  • She lost seven pounds and now implements the healthy habits she learned every day.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Like many people, I’ve been losing and gaining the same 10 pounds every few years.

In my latest attempt to lose weight, I turned to the Noom app. The TV and Facebook ads feature statements like, “Just 10 minutes a day keeps the weight off” and testimonials from people who claim they worked out every day for a year and only lost 10 pounds, but with Noom they lost 30 pounds.

Noom promises to be life-changing, easy to follow, and different from other weight-loss plans. For instance, on Noom, no food is forbidden, and its ads reinforce this concept by showing a woman grabbing a brownie while the scale flips to a lower and lower weight.

Although it seems like Noom is a newcomer to the weight-loss game, the company was founded more than a decade ago, in 2008, by two best friends, Saeju Jeong and Artem Petakov.

Read more: The entrepreneurs making bank through Clubhouse by leveraging their networks and associating their services with the popular app

Last year, the company reported it had over 45 million users. A 2016 study published in Scientific Reports found that about 78% of the 35,921 participants who used Noom lost weight over an 18-month period, and a 2017 study published in the Journal of Health Communications found that Noom appeared to help people lose weight over a six-month period.

In 2019, Noom raised $58 million, with investors including Sequoia Capital, Groupe Arnault’s tech arm Aglaé Ventures, Jan Koum, cofounder of WhatsApp, Tony Xu, cofounder of DoorDash, Josh Kushner, cofounder of Oscar Health, Scooter Braun, founder of SB Projects, and Samsung Ventures. It’s now the largest venture-backed digital weight-loss startup, having raised $115 million to date, a company spokesperson told Insider’s Patricia Kelly Yeo in April.

I signed up in October 2019. It cost about $150 to test out for eight months.

noom lisa
My “new normal.”

After completing a short quiz about my weight, height, desired weight-loss goal, and daily eating and exercise habits, I received my “customized” plan with a budget of 1,200 calories a day – a standard recommendation for women trying to shed a few pounds.

Noom broke my 1,200-calorie budget into three categories:

  • Green – essentially vegetables and fruits, to be eaten generously
  • Yellow – multigrain bread, lean proteins, beans, and brown rice, to be eaten in moderation
  • Red – the brownie in the ad, cheeses, pizza, anything fried, all to be eaten sparingly

Essentially, the food budget encourages participants to eat more protein, fruits, and vegetables and fewer fats and processed foods.

Other key daily aspects of Noom included recording your weight, tracking your food intake and exercise, drinking at least nine cups of water, and spending 10 minutes completing interactive readings and quizzes about food and cravings on the app.

One of your first assignments is to declare your “Super Goal” and “Ultimate Why” for losing weight, then envision how your life will be different once you reach your goal.

Super Goal.PNG
My Noom “Super Goal.”

I imagine that this is a powerful exercise for someone who has more than 10 pounds to lose.

In fact, I’ve noticed that the people who have the most weight to lose have the most success with Noom. But it felt strange to me because, while 10 pounds would help me feel more confident, it probably wouldn’t be life-changing for me.

I’m in a Facebook group for Noom users that I joined in January 2020, and the transformational photos people post constantly amaze me. It’s not uncommon to see photos of people who have lost 100 pounds or more. Most people post about their successes and their challenges, particularly when they find the scale is creeping up. But I was more of a lurker than a poster or commenter.

I started Noom before the COVID-19 pandemic, when I thought we’d be going to two weddings and my daughter’s high school graduation in 2020, so losing 10 pounds for these events were my Big Why. Then the pandemic hit and my Big Why became my desire to not gain 20 pounds during lockdown.

Initially, I found the daily readings and quizzes really insightful.

Everything is written in easy-to-digest blurbs and based on science and psychology. There are daily quizzes to help you retain the information and opportunities to read and reflect, and then add your own thoughts and experiences.

For instance, a lesson on stress eating ends with two questions: “What is your stressor?” and “What is your stress response?”

10 mindful eating tips.PNG
10 mindful eating tips.

The app invites you to list all the possible ways in which you can prevent yourself from stress eating. My list of ways to intervene included taking deep breaths, going for a quick walk, drinking a big glass of water, and calling or texting a friend. I can honestly say that none of these methods have worked for me.

There’s also a lot of emphasis on mindful eating, including how to assess how hungry you are before you start eating, ways to slow down your meal, and how to tell when you’re full.

Noom also arms you with ways to handle social situations and family members who expect you to clean your plate.

For instance, the app explains why we tend to eat more when we’re out to dinner with friends and why we might arrive at the restaurant determined to order a salad but then change to a burger when everyone else at the table orders one.

And, if your mother, grandmother, or aunt insists that you eat the special meal they made for your visit, Noom has a great list of responses like “I can’t make it work in my plan,” and “Me and [insert food] aren’t on speaking terms.”

Despite what the ads say, Noom also emphasizes exercise.

Food pusher strategies.PNG
Food pusher strategies.

There’s an initial goal to walk 3,000 steps a day, and after a week you’re encouraged to walk 10,000 steps each day and to add yoga, weights, and other workouts.

Noom pairs every participant with a goal specialist, who checks in with you every week. Each week you set a new goal – such as eating a new vegetable with every meal or exercising four times a week – and then the goal specialist checks to see if you succeeded.

If you didn’t, the specialist asks you open-ended questions that are similar to the reflections in the readings about what you could have done more of or differently.

Those open-ended questions definitely got on my nerves. Like most dieters, I know what I need to do – I just don’t always follow through.

It’s true that no food is off limits. However, losing weight wasn’t as easy as Noom promised.

One of the best lessons I learned is I can eat anything I want in moderation, and just because I gave into my craving for a bag of potato chips at lunch doesn’t mean I should give myself permission to eat an entire pizza and then a pint of ice cream for dinner.

noom lisa
How to assess your hunger.

I was on Noom for eight months and lost seven pounds. About three months after I went off Noom, I gained a few pounds back, so I decided to go back on Noom, hoping to lose six more pounds (the three pounds I’d regained and the three pounds I didn’t lose the first time) but nothing happened the second time I joined – I didn’t gain weight and I didn’t lose any either.

I asked health and fitness coach and weight-loss specialist Candice McDaniel why I was struggling to lose six pounds when I see photos of people who have dropped 100 pounds.

“Losing 10 pounds on a diet plan versus losing 50 to 100 pounds is harder because of how close you already are to a healthy weight,” she said. “When you have 50 to 100 pounds to lose, you don’t need to make very many changes to your diet to start seeing results. Typically at that weight, you can try following a diet plan, and even if you aren’t perfect, you’ll start seeing progress quickly. But people who only have about 10 pounds to lose have to be a lot more vigilant and follow the program very closely to see results.”

While I no longer use Noom, I’ve managed to keep off four of the seven pounds I lost and retained many of the healthy habits I learned.

For instance, I have a fruit or vegetables with every meal, I don’t eat when I’m bored (though I do still eat when I’m stressed), I exercise every day, I write down everything I eat each day, and if I slip up and have a bag of chips or a slice of cake at lunch, I don’t go whole hog in the evening. Now if I could only lose five more pounds …

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This $2,200 rowing machine is poised to be the Peloton of at-home rowers – here’s why it’s worth the investment

Rower_Model_838_r2 copy

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  • Hydrow is an at-home rowing machine that offers live and on-demand workout classes, not unlike Peloton.
  • Though expensive at $2,245, it’s a durable rower that delivers an engaging, full-body cardio workout.
  • I tried Hydrow and was impressed at everything it offered and how motivating and fun it was to use.

The popularity of interactive at-home workout machines continues to grow with brands like Peloton and NordicTrack leading the charge. Though similar at-home products have been around for years, advancements in the space have allowed these machines to be highly effective workout tools and more widely accessible.

Take the above-mentioned Peloton, for example. What started as a simple group cycling class seven years ago has since expanded into an at-home stationary bike outfit with highly interactive videos and classes. Put plainly, it’s revolutionized our relationship with the stationary bike – and the startup is now estimated to be worth $4 billion.

But one nitpick some have with these bikes is how the machines tend to neglect your upper body. This is where the Hydrow Rowing Machine comes in, an at-home rower poised to become the Peloton of rowing.

Unlike cycling, rowing is said to engage 86% of your muscles. With this $2,200 at-home unit, you can participate in live or on-demand rowing classes led by world-class athletes, all in the comfort of your living room.

Curious about its benefits, I tried Hydrow for a month. Here’s what I thought of the experience and if the $2,245 price tag is worth the investment.

Specs

Hydrow 4

The Hydrow is an 86-inch-long by 25-inch-wide rowing machine featuring an easily accessible 22-inch HD touchscreen mounted on the front. The monitor is sweatproof and features Hi-Fi speakers, a two-megapixel camera, a built-in microphone, USB 2.0 connection, and both Bluetooth and WiFi capabilities.

Here are a few other important specs:

  • Aluminum and steel frame with a flat anthracite polymer body
  • Soft rubberized feet to protect floors
  • Low-stress handle grip with ergonomic design
  • 1920 by 1080 Full HD screen resolution
  • Over 500 pre-recorded river and studio rowing sessions
  • Four types of rowing videos: Live Rowing, Rows on Demand, Serene River Rowing, Whole Body Fitness
  • Quiet, electromagnetic resistance that adjusts 240 times per second
  • Heart rate monitoring
  • 10-roller seat roller system facilitating a smooth operation
  • 25-degree monitor pivot in each direction
  • 18-month labor warranty; 2-year warranty on wear items, screen, and other electronics; and a 6-year structural frame warranty

A recurring $38 monthly membership is required to experience the full functionality of the Hydrow (i.e. the classes). This includes live virtual outdoor rows with instructors and athletes (including a selection from the U.S. National Rowing Team), access to a live leaderboard during classes, Hydrow’s full on-demand library, and other exclusive off-machine fitness content.

The setup process

My setup experience was slightly different than what should be expected as Hydrow coordinated both the delivery and setup with a team of its own. The rower was fully assembled when it arrived, so the brand’s technician just needed to screw the screen onto the frame, plug in the machine, and connect it to my Wi-Fi.

Once complete, the technician walked me through how to use the machine before he left and even showed me how to access the rowing tutorials – all of which I found really helpful.

If purchased via Best Buy, there is a white-glove treatment available for anyone who wants a complete setup done for them. Best Buy offers a delivery and installation option just about everywhere in the US for $249.99. There’s also a flat $69.99 delivery charge but that gets waived if you go with the delivery and installation option – something Best Buy strongly encourages. You may even qualify for free installation and delivery if you reach out to customer service.

If you go the full installation route, a Geek Squad member delivers and sets up your Hydrow wherever you want it in your apartment or home. They’ll also connect it to your Wi-Fi and ensure the rower is workout-ready before leaving.

A motivating library of classes

To get the most out of my month of testing the Hydrow, I challenged my wife to see who could put in the most mileage. My wife is fairly sedentary while I’m very active, yet the spirit of competition and ease of use motivated her to

I often loaded up a pre-recorded video class first thing in the morning to hit the digital water, due mainly to the fact the trainers all had upbeat attitudes. This helped to guide my workouts and started my day off on the right foot – thankfully, they weren’t annoyingly positive. Their encouragement got me to push a little harder while focusing on my form.

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There are several levels of intensity to choose from and it took a bit of experimentation to figure out which level and workout length were ideal for my exercise needs. I felt the Warm-Up, Breathe, and Sweat videos were fairly light and didn’t get my heart rate going as much as I wanted. Instead, I was more into the Push videos. The first 20-minute, Push interval session I did really worked out my body.

I also enjoyed the real-time leaderboard that appears on the right side of the screen a Live Rowing session. It compares your distance to the distances rowed by other users at each point of the video. I found it to be an incredibly useful motivating tool – my wife also noted how it often pushed her to row harder.

Although I preferred the interactive classes, some of my wife’s favorite sessions didn’t have live instructors. She liked the Serene River Rowing in which you go through beautiful natural areas and hear nothing but the water. There’s still a leaderboard but no one is pushing you, so you’re more likely to go at your own pace.

Another impressive aspect was the video streaming quality. There’s nothing worse than having a video freeze in the middle of a guided workout, especially when you’re challenging for the top of the leaderboard. During my testing, the screen froze just once – something my wife experience as well, at the same point in the same video. If this happens, you’re able to just press the help icon on the screen and instantly send feedback to Hydrow, who was responsive.

A few nitpicks

Perhaps the Hydrow’s biggest drawback is how big its 15-square-foot size is. I kept it in my living room for the short term but in the long term, you’d want a dedicated workout area.

You can, however, store the Hydrow vertically if you want to free up space. When stored vertically, it only takes up a 33-inch by 25-inch patch of space. I did this a few times and with the front wheels, it was easy enough for me to move and stand up the 145-pound machine on my own.

hydrow

To the Hydrow’s credit, the machine is incredibly quiet, which is certainly nice if you live in an apartment with paper-thin walls, or just don’t want to make too much of a racket.

The only time it wasn’t quiet, though, was when I had the resistance cranked up to 100% and was trying to do a high stroke rate. I’d hear a knocking sound where the foot pedals met the machine. My wife never experienced this but I weigh 250 pounds, which is 80 pounds more than her, so it might’ve just been a weight issue. Either way, I brought it up to Hydrow who told me that they’d fixed it in subsequent versions of the machine.

The price might also give you a bit of sticker shock. At $2,245, it’s definitely not cheap but considering a Peloton bike costs $1,895, I’d say it’s comparable. You’re also getting a full-body workout as opposed to only cardio.

Hydrow’s base price doesn’t include the $38 monthly membership fee, which does make the final price a bit higher than what’s advertised. Depending on how often you’d use the machine, an ongoing subscription might be an unnecessary and sunk cost – or a financial motivator.

Should you buy it?

Yes. At a comparable price to the Peloton, the Hydrow gives you a full-body workout. Plus, with its software updates, a new app, and constant improvements, Hydrow has demonstrated that it’s committed to producing a top-quality experience.

If you can afford it and are looking for a way to stay motivated with a fun and challenging full-body exercise, I strongly recommend giving Hydrow a try.

What are your alternatives?

Though there’s a variety of at-home workout equipment like stationary bikes or treadmills, interactive at-home rowers are relatively new (outside of the traditional, analog water rowers or stationary, screen-less row machines).

The closest alternative would be the Ergatta rower. Like Hydrow, the Ergatta rower features an onboard screen that displays workouts, leaderboards, and pre-recorded classes. The rower itself is even in the style of a water rower in that it uses water flywheel technology to produce a smooth row experience.

The bottom line

Overall, I loved Hydrow. So much so that I was sad when the technicians came to take it away. On my humble freelance writer wages, I’d likely be unable to buy it at its current price of $2,245 (plus membership fees). I just can’t afford it. But if I had $2,245 to put toward my physical fitness, or was willing to part with $61 per month with Best Buy’s financing payment, I’d buy the Hydrow today.

Pros: More than 500 on-demand videos of varying lengths and intensities, live broadcasts with live leaderboards, full-body workout, durable construction, quiet and precise electromagnetic resistance

Cons: Expensive, requires membership for access to all of the features, takes up a lot of space

Read the original article on Business Insider

What devices work with Apple Fitness Plus? Here’s what’s compatible with Apple’s workout app

exercise equipment laptop smartphone yoga mat
Having exercise equipment gives you more options, but you don’t need it for every Apple Fitness Plus workout.

  • Several devices work with Apple Fitness Plus, but you need an Apple Watch Series 3 or later.
  • Apple Fitness Plus can be used on an iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV – soon, it’ll also be on AirPlay 2 compatible TVs.
  • Aside from the Apple devices, many Fitness Plus workouts will require at least a mat and dumbbells.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Apple Fitness Plus, Apple’s subscription exercise program, integrates pre-recorded workouts in a wide range of categories with your Apple Watch and iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV. Apple Fitness Plus costs $9.99 per month or $79.99 per year, and there is an option for a free trial when you sign up.

The app allows you to choose workouts like high-intensity interval training (HIIT), yoga, strength, treadmill, cycling, rowing, and more. Here’s how to make sure you have everything you need to get started with Apple Fitness Plus.

Devices that work with Apple Fitness Plus

You need an Apple Watch Series 3 or later, plus an iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV to follow Fitness Plus exercises. Any of these devices must be running OS version 14.3 or higher.

Exercise equipment you might need

Apple Fitness Plus offers a lot of workout options, many of which don’t require any equipment other than your body. Some workouts have unique equipment requirements, though.

The good news is that you can use any generic equipment to do the workout – Fitness Plus doesn’t require you to have a particular brand or model of workout equipment. You can also do these workouts at home or at a gym.

Each workout indicates what equipment you need at the top of the screen, under the introductory image. If there’s no equipment listed, you won’t need any gear (except, of course, for the obvious treadmill if you’ve chosen a treadmill workout, for example).

What_devices_work_with_Apple_Fitness 1
You can see what equipment you need at the top of each workout page.

However, if you want to explore a wide range of Fitness Plus exercises, you may want access to at least some of this equipment.

TV 4K (small)iPhone 12 (small)Watch Series 6 (40mm, GPS) (small)How to sign up for Apple One, Apple’s bundled subscription service for music, TV, and moreWhat is Apple One? Here’s what you need to know about Apple’s subscription service bundleHow to sign up for Apple Fitness Plus in 3 ways, and what you’ll need to subscribeHow to cancel your Apple Fitness Plus subscription on any Apple device

Read the original article on Business Insider

Working from Home (Again) – Tips for a Healthy Lifestyle

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Many of us are either working from home again, or never stopped since the first lockdown! It’s much harder to keep healthy when it’s cold and dark outside.

Here are some tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle while you’re working from home. Hopefully these will keep you motivated throughout the long winter months.

  1. Exercise While Working From Home
  2. Eat Healthily When Working From Home
  3. Money and Health Tips
  4. Stay Mentally Healthy While Working From Home
  5. Working From Home Routine

Exercise while working from home

Exercise when working at home to stay healthy

Gyms are shut and many forms of exercise are off the cards for now, but this doesn’t mean you need to stop exercising altogether.

Something as simple as getting out for a walk or run everyday will improve your mood and keep you healthy. The best thing about this is it’s outside, so you can get some fresh air and maybe even some sunshine at the same time. Cycling is also a good option if you prefer it.

There’s also no shortage of online workouts you can do from home. YouTube has a wide range of workout videos for free that will suit all abilities. Whether a 20 minute lunchtime HIIT session is your thing or a pre-bed yoga routine is more your style, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from.

Eat healthily when working from home

Endless takeaways seem like the easy option and the temptation to regularly order out is only growing.

If you can, keep takeaways to the minimum or cook your own healthy alternatives to your favourite classics.

Keeping to regular meals can also help. It’s very easy to mindlessly snack while working from home – hands up if you’ve polished off a whole packet of biscuits in a day before!

Sticking to regular, nutritious meals will help prevent this as you should feel full and satisfied for longer after eating.

Don’t forget to drink water too. It’s very easy to find yourself on your fourth of fifth coffee without realising it, but don’t forget coffee is actually dehydrating. Make sure to balance it out with regular glasses of water. This is also a good way to keep you moving as you have to get up every hour or so to fill up your glass.

Money and health tips

Working from home can help you save money and improve your financial health. For starters, you don’t have the cost of the commute or the allure of after work drinks!

But, there are expenses to working from home and the costs could rack up quickly if you don’t watch out.

Electricity will be a big cost for many, now we’re at home all the time. To keep your electricity costs down, turn your power switches off at the wall when you’re not using them. You could also consider switching providers. Some – like Bulb – offer a referral bonus if you can convince a friend to switch too.

Heating is another big expense, especially with the cold weather we’re currently experiencing. Try and wear extra socks and jumpers (if your work Zoom calls allow!) rather than heading to the thermostat as soon as you get a bit chilly.

Where possible try and avoid ordering lunch each day, however tempting it might be. Although cooking endless meals can get tiring, it will help you save a lot of money, so your bank balance will thank you in the long run.

If you’re finding you’re not spending as much money – whether it’s from not commuting or buying lunch each day – try and avoid leaving it sitting in your current account. This will just increase the temptation to spend it when the opportunity presents itself again.

Instead, consider opening a savings accounts. Out of site, out of mind really does work. Your money will be protected and ready for you to spend when you really need it.

Stay mentally healthy while working from home

Seek individual therapy online to help your mental health when working from home

Lockdown and Covid-19 are getting most people down. A certain amount of this is probably unavoidable, but there are steps you can take to stay mentally healthy at home.

A good starting point is to stay connected with your friends. Arrange Zoom calls and virtual catch ups so you can check in with each other. You could even play a game or watch a film together to make you feel more connected.

Take some time each day to relax and switch off. A lot of people find mindfulness helpful for this. You can find out more about mindfulness here.

If you find yourself struggling more than usual, it could be worth seeking individual therapy. Talking through your problems and getting specific help and guidance can be very helpful.

Of course, if your feelings are seriously worrying you do speak to your GP or a medical professional.

Set a routine

A routine is crucial to staying healthy while working from home.

It may seem tempting – particularly without the commute hanging over you – to keep snoozing your alarm, but try and avoid this.

Instead, get up each morning and follow the same pattern. Whether it’s having a coffee, a shower, or cooking yourself a nice breakfast, the important thing is to stick to a routine and avoid lying in bed with your laptop all morning.

It’s also really important to take breaks and get away from endless screens regularly. A quick stand up and stretch every hour, will help avoid aches and pains while giving your mind a much-needed break.

Where you can, take a proper break in the day and get some fresh air. Getting out in daylight will make a big difference if your working hours allow it. Schedule this into your day to stop yourself from putting it off because it’s a bit too cold or raining.

If you’re struggling with productivity, or social media scrolling is distracting you too much, try scheduling in fun activities as rewards. This could be anything from a break to watch an episode of your favourite TV show after you’ve met a deadline or even a bubble bath.

It’s a good idea to mark the end of the working day too. Try to avoid checking your emails well into the evening and working anti-social hours. Instead, shut your laptop down and put it away until the morning once you’ve finished for the day.

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Need more working from home tips? Try these articles next!

The post Working from Home (Again) – Tips for a Healthy Lifestyle appeared first on MoneyMagpie.