Economic Fitness

We thought we’d end our week on a lighter note (!) and talk about some low-cost, low-tech ways to get in shape.

If we are going to take some responsibility for our health and fitness and save money at the same time, keep in mind that an elaborate gym membership or participation  in an expensive and time-consuming sport is not a requirement.  There are lots and lots of low-cost alternatives that can help us get fit.

1.  Everyday ways to fitness.  Add these activities to your daily routine:

  • Turn household chores into workouts: Weed that garden! Trim those edges! Vacuum thoroughly, with good posture and attention to form.  It may sound silly, but if you can get your heart rate up as you work around the house, you’ve created a workout!
  • Kick it up a notch: Enjoy a brisk walk every day – around the neighborhood, through the mall, wherever.  Use the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator when running errands.  Park farther from your destination.  Use your stairway at home for a workout.  Add steps whenever you can.
  • Play! Join in with your children and play tag or kickball or flag football.  Go on a family bike ride.  Dance.  Swim.  Participate!
2.  Make some modest fitness investments.  There are some very inexpensive fitness tools you might pick up:
  • Resistance tubing.  These are those brightly colored stretchy things, tubes really, that offer weight-like resistance when you pull against them.  They build arm strength and work on other  muscles, too.  They vary in levels of resistance according to your fitness level.  You might want an assortment.
  • Dumbbells.  Available in a full range of sizes and styles, these are small hand-held weights that you can use to enhance upper-body strength.
  • Jump-ropes.  Terrific for a cardiovascular workout.
  • Fitness ball.  Great for core workouts, balance and flexibility, they look like giant beach balls.  And they are fun to use!
  • Exercise and fitness videos, DVDs and podcasts.  These are all quick ways to vary your workouts and bring the gym or health club home.  Be sure to use programs suitable for your fitness level and designed and endorsed by properly certified fitness instructors.
  • Video games.  These are a bigger dollar investment, but offer all sorts of activities you might like –  tennis, dance programs, different yoga practices and so on.
3.  Be creative and improvise.  For the truly budget-conscious, stuff from the pantry does the trick:
  • Milk or water jugs.   Empty and rinse out milk or water jugs, fill them with sand or water and duct tape them shut: voila! Weights!  Weigh them on a scale to see how many pounds you are carrying or lifting.  And adjusting them is obviously pretty simple.
  • Canned goods.  Great as hand weights.
  • Sturdy step stools.  A low, sturdy stool is perfect for step training, a great aerobic workout.
4.  Smart shopping.  Shop around for equipment or a specific class:
  • Buy used equipment.  Be sure to visit (often) your neighborhood used sports equipment store.  And check out the small ads in the local papers, too.  Garage and estate sales are other good options.  If you buy online, be sure the shipping costs are manageable.
  • See what your local recreation department offers.  Lots of local rec departments offer discounted fitness classes to local residents.  And some colleges and high schools make their fitness centers available to community members.
  • Share costs and DVDs.  Trade and share your exercise library with friends – no one gets too bored this way and you all have more options.  
  • Watch for lemons and useless products.  Keep up on product reviews and use common sense, too.  There are all sorts of supplements and herbs and systems making great fitness claims that are absolutely worthless.  
Have a great weekend! 

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