(ARA) - When considering home improvements, people tend to choose projects that will improve the value of their home. While this is important for a healthy bottom line, investing in the health of those living inside the home also is a value-added improvement.

"I love going to the gym, but there are days when my workout will only happen if I work out at home because I don't have time for the commute," says Chris Freytag, a national health and fitness expert and contributing editor of Prevention Magazine.

While die-hard gym-goers might need a home-exercise option if they have sick children or a sudden change in schedule, even outdoor exercise enthusiasts might need shelter from extreme weather. "If you're committed to your fitness routine, you always need that plan B, even if you do belong to a health club," Freytag says.

Freytag, who is chairman of the board of directors for the American Council on Exercise, says that in cases such as these, having a fitness option at home keeps your workouts convenient. And for those who make their home the primary place to work out, dedicated space for fitness is important. "When you make it easier to exercise, you are more likely to do it," she says. "Depending on the room in your budget and the room in your house, you can create a home gym that's perfect for you and will help you meet your personal fitness goals."

Furnishing the home for fitness

Having space in the home dedicated for fitness is one thing. Knowing what to do in that space is another. Having the right fitness equipment and resources at home can turn the best intentions to work up a sweat into a successfully completed workout.

The good news is you no longer need to forsake your dining room table for a home gym. Today's fitness equipment is compact - making out-of-sight storage convenient - and portable enough to move from room to room, if necessary.

Here is a list to consider when furnishing your home for fitness:

1. Healthy Way of Life Weight Loss DVD: This two-DVD package is the first of its kind offered by Life Time Fitness, The Healthy Way of Life Company, based on weight loss and fitness classes in their clubs. It provides a 12-week series of four workouts and includes a free 30-day trial to their new online program, Life Time at Home. While free for members, nonmembers can buy this virtual membership for $10 a month and, without setting foot into a gym, get a free consultation with a nutrition coach, access to supplemental workouts, a personalized tracker for nutrition, exercise and weight, and access to other health and fitness resources. For more information, go to lifetimefitness.mylt.com.

2. PowerBlock adjustable dumbbells: Although they might seem more pricey at first glance, they are less expensive than purchasing multiple dumbbell pairs of varying weights. Because there is only one pair for all the various weights, you keep your fitness space clutter free.

3. Stability ball: Replace the bulky bench you would use for resistance training with a stability ball to work on balance and core strength. Make sure your stability ball is burst resistant and rated for a slow deflate if punctured.

4. Resistance bands: While they enable you to work just about every muscle group, resistance bands are compact and can be stored in a drawer. "I highly recommend spending a little more for the braided bands, which are safer and hold their resistance better over time," advises Phil Timmons, national director of group training at Life Time. Purchase a set that comes with light, medium and hard resistance that also includes a door anchor.

5. Coach Troy's Performance and Fitness DVDs: Have a stationary bike or treadmill that has been collecting dust? Coach Troy Jacobson has a line of Spinervals, for the bike, and Runervals, for the treadmill, to help get that fitness equipment back in use. "People get bored without structure and goals," Jacobson says. "The key is to do workouts that are focused and meaningful as opposed to just mindlessly moving on the trainer or stationary bike. Indoor training is highly specific and very efficient on a time/work scale. For most people, efficiency rules the day."

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