(NaturalNews) If you're among the 84 percent of U.S. residents who don't belong to a gym, don't despair -- with five simple steps, you can turn your home into the ideal exercise space!
"Realistically, you can set up your own gym at home for less than $50," said Nicole Nichols of sparkpeople.com. "A simple tool like a pedometer will help you realize how much you're moving."
1. Designate a workout space - "Most important is that you have at least a five-foot by five-foot space, so that you're not worried about doing a movement full range," said Lisa Wheeler, program director for DailyBurn.com, "and a mat, so you've got a soft surface for work on the floor."
"Then just add what you like to do. If you don't like dumbbells, don't buy them."
2. Take advantage of everyday items - For those with limited funds or space, household objects can be turned into exercise equipment.
"You can use things you find around the house," Wheeler said. "I often encourage moms to pick up a soccer ball or basketball to use as a medicine ball."
Tools can be used in lieu of weights, for example, and a crate can be used as a "step."
3. Buy a few key pieces of equipment - For those who prefer specialized equipment, a few specific items may be all you need. Each person will have their own preferences.
Wheeler recommends resistance tubes, for example.
"I think they are a great piece of equipment because you can use them for several different exercises and you can travel with them," she said.
Treadmills are among the most popular large equipment purchases, accounting for 58 percent of all home gym sales, but they have their limitations
"The treadmill has huge benefits," said Colleen Logan of exercise equipment manufacturer ICON. "But any exercise expert will tell you fitness includes strength, flexibility and balance training. And to think you're going to get all your strength training needs solved by a treadmill is limited."
Jessica Matthews, of the American Council on Exercise, notes that inexpensive, compact strength-training equipment is now easy to find.
"I like medicine balls for rotational work, and sandbells are among my new favorites," she said. "You can slam them on a hardwood floor and they won't roll away from you."
Other "soft" exercise equipment includes a sand-filled floor mat (used for pushups, crunches, and unstable planks) and even kettlebells.
"Instead of a chunk of metal, the soft kettlebell is adjustable, like a stack of donuts," Logan said. "It can range from four to 20 pounds. The weighted disks can function separately as hand weights."
Some strength-training equipment also allows a balance workout. The Rip60, for example, is a strap that is looped around a tree or over a door and then used to suspend the body.
4. Take advantage of streaming videos - Recognizing that many people prefer to work out at home, many gyms are now offering streaming videos of their classes.
"Streaming classes are great to find ways to move your body," Matthews said. "You can still be at home but have the guidance of an instructor. The downside is they can't see you."
5. Find free workout videos - Don't have a gym around that offers streaming classes? Take advantage of that old classic, workout videos -- which you can find for free at your local library or on YouTube.
Current guidelines recommend at least 30 minutes of moderately strenuous exercise five days a week or 20 minutes of vigorous exercise three days a week, but some studies suggest that as little as 10 minutes of intense exercise per day can produce measurable benefits.