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3 Low-Tech Exercise Tools that Really Work

In this high-tech world, it can be hard to keep up with all the latest gadgets, especially when it comes to exercise tools. What works and what doesn’t? Do you really need the latest bionic gym or digital weights that provide feedback? Are “smart” exercise tools really helpful, or just fun to have? Personally, I’d rather not have my exercise equipment talking back to me (or mocking my attempts).

Let’s face it, sometimes the simple things are still the best. They may not be flashy or interactive or even beautiful, but the following low-tech exercise tools can be extremely beneficial. And unlike high-tech tools, they won’t break the bank. These low-cost, easy-to-use exercise tools can help you make the most of your at-home workouts.

1. Foam rollers

These lightweight foam cylinders can help you exercise and relieve muscle tension and pain. In fact, studies show that foam rolling can reduce inflammation, increase range of motion and flexibility, and improve circulation.

Why it Works

When we sit for long periods, hunch over desks, or perform repetitive tasks, we can develop muscle tightness. Each muscle in your body is held in place by layers of connective tissue called fascia. Inactivity or repetitive motion can cause this tissue to become stiff or dense, which leads to tension or tightness in the muscle and resulting pain. Both tightness and pain can restrict flexibility and range of motion.

When you roll a tight muscle over a foam roller it’s similar to a massage. The friction releases tension and helps to realign the fascia. One recent review of 49 studies found that foam rolling for 90 seconds to two minutes at a time reduced muscle stiffness and increased range of motion significantly.

Get on a Roll

Like any exercise tool, foam rollers must be used properly! Do not roll on an injury, such as a torn muscle or sprain. Also, it’s best to use a foam roller on dense muscle tissue, such as the glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps, and avoid sensitive areas such as the lower back, abdomen, and neck. If you’re in doubt, consult a physical therapist before using a foam roller.

In addition to relieving muscle tension, foam rollers can be valuable exercise tools. There are a number of core strength exercises that can be done while lying on foam roller, such as alternating heel taps.

To do these, lie face up with the roller vertically under your spine. Place your fingertips on the floor as you lift your legs into tabletop position. Holding this 90-degree angle, lower one leg to the floor and tap your heel. Alternate legs for 15 to 20 reps.

For a complete foam roller workout, check out this book: or search online for a wide variety of exercises using foam rollers.

2. PhysioBoard

This unique lightweight, yet sturdy board transforms your bed into an effective exercise surface. It’s perfect for people who have a hard time getting down and up from the floor. Whether you’re recovering from a hip or knee replacement, have back issues, or simply find it hard to get down on the floor to exercise, PhysioBoard can help you continue to exercise on a raised platform – your bed!

Simply place PhysioBoard, which only weighs 11 pounds, on your bed when you’re ready to exercise or stretch, and remove it when you’re done. Unlike bulky exercise tables, It can be easily stored behind a door or in a closet.

Why it Works

Exercising is the best way to recover from surgery or injury, as well as keeping you flexible, mobile, and pain-free. Yet, many people stop exercising when they can’t safely get down on the floor to do crunches, planks, hamstring stretches, knee-to-chest stretches and other beneficial moves. Some people resort to exercising on their beds, but mattresses do not provide the proper surface for exercising effectively. The softness or “give” of a mattress can cause strain on your lower back and neck, instead of targeting the muscles you’re trying to work.

PhysioBoard provides the proper surface for exercising and stretching. It has a comfortable foam pad and a bacteria- and water-resistant cover that is machine washable. It’s a less expensive and more portable alternative to an exercise table.

Try these stretches to relieve lower back stiffness with the PhysioBoard:

Go to to purchase your own.

3. Resistance Bands

Resistance bands or therapy bands are strong elastic bands that can assist with many exercises. They come in a variety of “strengths” that provide varying degrees of resistance. Some also have handles.

Why it Works

Adding resistance to exercises such as bicep curls, chest presses and lunges make them more effective. You could use weights to provide this resistance, but bands are lighter and easier to handle, especially for people with arthritis. They are easy to wrap around your hand and adjust. There is also less chance of injury with bands versus weights. In addition, bands involve a lower amount of force on the joints, which is good news for anyone with joint pain.

A 2019 study showed that training using resistance bands provide similar strength gains to using gym equipment, which means they can be highly effective. They can also provide stability and assistance when stretching muscles. Resistance bands have been proven to improve strength and function of muscles in the elderly, as well as those in rehabilitation, but they work for anyone. Finally, these bands are perfect to travel with.

To get started, try these resistance band exercises for beginners and:

Resistance bands are inexpensive and available online and at many retailers.

The bottom line: You don't need to spend a fortune or get a degree in technology to work out effectively at home. Rely on these and other low-tech tools to help you make the most of your at-home workouts.

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