As a new year begins, plenty of us put “getting fit” on our to-do list, but those healthy aspirations often end with sticker shock after a trip to the gym to price a membership. If you feel discouraged by your options, take heart — it’s possible to get in shape on a budget!
In one survey, more than 70 percent of respondents said they spend $21 or more a month on a gym membership — or $252 or more a year. That adds up to more than many of us can afford.
But you shouldn’t stop lacing up your sneakers just because you can’t afford a gym membership. You can get in shape on a budget, and you should! Regular exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight, prevent or manage chronic health conditions, boost your mood and build up your bones and muscles.
What’s more, you might just earn more money. A study published in the Journal of Labor Research found that employees who exercise take home 9 percent more than colleagues who don’t.
So how can you get fit without breaking the bank?
Here are five ways to get in shape on a budget:
1.Check with your employer: A growing number of employers are offering their employees incentives for exercising because of the benefits to employees and the company’s bottom line. People who walk less than 2,000 steps a day use up $12,000 in health care services each year, more than twice the amount of people who walk 10,000 steps a day, according to a study for UnitedHealthcare by Savvy Sherpa, a research firm.
These days, more than 70 percent of employers offer wellness programs, which might include in-house fitness classes and other healthy living programs, according to a Society for Human Resource Management study. Check with your employer’s human resources department to find out what might be available where you work.
2. Head down to your local rec center: Across the country, local parks and recreation programs are working to get residents in shape. Some recreation center even offer free access to gyms with weights, treadmills, stair climbers and more. Many include free or low-cost workout programs too. Check with your municipal or county parks and recreation department to find out what is offered near you.
3. Take a walk: It’s really that easy. A brisk walk can do wonders for your health, burning calories and building muscles, according to the Mayo Clinic. It recommends shooting for at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day. If you can’t set aside 30 minutes all at once, break that half hour up into five or 10-minute walks throughout the day.
4. Download your workout: If you’re looking for an intense workout, consider one of the many free fitness and workout apps available for smartphones and tablets. Buzzfeed listed 13 free workout apps that it says are better than a gym membership.
5. Keep moving: If you truly want to stay fit, you’ll need to incorporate regular exercise into your daily routine. What are you doing on a daily basis? Walking from a parking lot to your place of work, cleaning the house, taking care of yard work, running around with the kids. If you’re moving, you’re exercising. Consider this: An hour of light housework will burn about 170 calories, according to Sharecare.
Incorporate more opportunities to get the blood flowing throughout the day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park in a space far from the door instead of right next to it and join the kids in their game of hide and seek. Next time your kitchen floor needs scrubbing, focus on the muscles you’re building up instead of the (not-so-fun) task at hand.
Just don’t give up too soon on that New Year’s resolution to get fit simply because you can’t afford a costly gym membership. Get in shape on a budget — all you need to do is get up and get moving to get healthy.
The CESI Team is committed to helping you reach your financial goals. If debt keeps you from living the life you dream of, contact us for a free debt analysis today and get started on the road to a brighter future!