Many of us will make the resolution to become more physically fit in the coming new year. Exercising and eating well are great investments in our future health and will help save money on health care. The good news is that we don’t have to spend a fortune to get in shape. Check out what you can do this year to stay physically and financially fit.
Joining a Gym
While joining a gym is not necessary for getting fit, it can be a good choice if we want to work out with a variety of equipment and weights or if we need someplace warm and dry to work out. Here are a few things to consider when choosing a gym:
- Do any churches or community organizations offer gym space for free or very low cost? While these won’t have all of the amenities of a full priced gym, you might be surprised at how much they do offer. Many will also offer the opportunity to participate in team sports, which can be a fun way to socialize and exercise at the same time.
- How easy will it be to cancel your membership? There are horror stories all over the net about people who are unable to get out of gym memberships. If possible, avoid allowing the gym to auto-debit your account. If that is unavoidable, consider putting your auto-pay on a credit card as this will offer you more consumer protections and is less likely to put you in a horrible bind if your information is stolen or abused.
- Take advantage of free trial periods. This will give you a good idea of the culture of the gym and let you get a feel for how well you will fit in. You’ll be more likely to stick with your program if you feel comfortable at your gym.
Exercise at Home
- Don’t rush out to buy expensive exercise equipment! Craigslist and other classified ads are usually full of gently used stationary bikes, treadmills, ellipticals and other equipment.
- Borrow workout dvds from the library, Netflix or from a friend before buying. No need to spend money on workouts that you just don’t click with.
- Look for activities that you can do with your spouse and children or friends. Not only will this be more fun, but it can give you the accountability you need to stick with your program.
- When buying workout clothing, there is no need to buy the most expensive, but be wary of going with the cheapest options. You want to get fabric that breathes, that is free of seams that can irritate you and is durable.
- Shoes are another area where it pays to shop around. There is no one brand that works for everyone, get the shoes that fit your feet the best and are designed for the activities that you will be doing. That said, you can often get last year’s styles/colors for half off.
- For other gear, such as racquets and bats, consider buying used. There are even resale shops such as Play It Again Sports that make shopping for used equipment just as convenient as buying new.
- Stay away from diets that offer pre-portioned, processed foods. You are paying far too much for far too little food and most people find they quickly put the weight back on when they go off the plan.
- Fresh produce is expensive! Despite what some would have you believe, there is no reason why you need to have fresh blueberries and asparagus in your diet in January. Fill your diet with fresh produce that is in season to get the most bang for your grocery dollar. Plain frozen vegetables and fruit with no sauce or added salt or sugar is a good way to fill in the gaps without emptying your wallet.
- Watch portion sizes, especially for meat and fish. Staying close to the recommended portion sizes is not only optimal for your health and weight, it also keeps the grocery tab reasonable.
- Borrow diet and cookbooks from the library before buying. Just like with the workout dvds, you don’t want to invest in a cookbook before you know if it is something you will use often.
Getting physically fit is the best gift that you can give to yourself and your family. While you might need to spend a little upfront and your grocery bills might increase, neglecting your health to avoid paying for these things is truly penny wise and pound foolish.
How do you keep yourself active and healthy without going over your budget?