With the warming days coming to most of the States, now is the time to start that habit to better health with cheap and cost-effective ways that help you lose the weight without losing money from your wallet in the process. I've already written about free exercise or gym membership dues and I get more satisfaction from not having to lay out any money by finding cheap resources for exercising, right under my nose.
If setting aside time is hard to do with exercising you would be surprised at what you can do to keep yourself in tip top shape with very little effort.
1) Walk. Walking is hugely underrated, yet its something almost everybody can do. The average person walks less than 6,000 steps per day. Aim for 10,000 steps. Make sure to walk briskly to raise your heart rate for maximum benefit. But even a stroll through a shopping mall is better than sitting on the couch.
2) Buy a pedometer to help keep track of your steps. You can get one for about 10 bucks, although they come free from some companies.
3) Take the stairs every chance you get, even if it's only one flight.
4) Park farther away from work or from the front door of the shopping mall or grocery store.
5) Jog or run.
7) Buy a dog from the SPCA or borrow the neighbor's mutt. People who walk with dogs walk longer and more often than those who don't.
8) Turn on your radio, CD player or MP3 and dance up a storm for 20 to 30 minutes in the privacy of your own home. Jog on the spot, bop around, throw in some karate/kung fu type kicks and just have fun, even if you are cleaning the house.
9) Use that library card and borrowing privileges for all sorts of exercise videos.
10) Use the lowest stair or stairs in your home or outside and create your own step workout. Three steps can give you a good workout for the upper and lower body.
11) Turn your canned goods into weights. A five-pound bag of sugar weighs as much as a five-pound weight. For a more challenging strength workout pour sand or water into empty milk or bleach bottles. Gradually increase the sand or water over time to keep your muscles growing stronger.
13) Pair a favourite TV show with some sit-ups. Just hook your toes under the sofa and go out it, most commercials run 2 minutes long between the tv programs.
14) Take the treadmill/rowing machine/exercise bike hidden away in the basement or under a pile of laundry and move it into a prominent place like the TV room.
15) Thinking of buying a piece of equipment to workout on at home? Check out the classifieds, Craigslist and eBay, locally, for a good deal. Someone's "clothes hanger" could be your ticket to fitness.
16) Pick up a ball or play tag with your kids. Activity is good for the whole family.
17) Pass on hired help and do your own housecleaning and yardwork. Done vigorously and continuously, housework burns 346 calories; yardwork, 250 to 400 calories. Washing the car uses up 245 calories; washing the dishes; 122 calories.
18) Call up some friends for a game of shinny street hockey or pickup b-ball at a neighbourhood playground.
19) Pick up cheap, used sports equipment at second hand sport stores and discount department stores.
20) Check with your community league or local rec centre for any exercise classes or team sports you can join for a pretty affordable price.
21) Got rope? Jump it for a total body workout.
22) Exercise with a friend. It will increase the chance of you sticking with your new activity.
23) Dust off the bicycle you forgot about in the garage or pick one up cheap at a garage sale.
25) Laugh. Great big belly laughs. Every day. It's good for the soul as well as your abs.
26) Carry around a computer bag or backpack weighted with five or 10 pounds of stuff for exercises like one-armed rows or squats you can do throughout the day.
27) Buy a stability ball. They can be picked up for $10 -20 and used as an office chair. Balancing on a ball works your core muscles.
29) Check out the company gym if you have one. Studies show only 20 to 40 per cent of employees take advantage of company-sponsored gym. There's a treadmill just waiting for you.
30) Ask your employer for some free space, send out an e-mail to see if others are interested, and bring in someone to teach a yoga or Pilates class on site once or twice a week and split the cost.
31) Organize a hockey, basketball or baseball game with the people you work with. Challenge other departments or other companies, says reader Jon Fraser.
32) Check with your boss or human resources department to see if there's a program that will help pay for all or part of a gym membership.
33) Find out if your local gym offers discounts based on age, company or college attended.
34) Sign up for a gym during trial periods, many offer a 5 - 14 day free trial.
35) Paying $40 or $50 for a monthly gym membership may seem like a lot, but if you thrive in such a high energy setting and if you are a weekend warrior only, even then, that works out to $4-6 a visit per month.
36) Check if your health insurance company offers lower premiums to people who workout regularly or have a club membership.
37) Call up a trainer, tell him or her you're on a budget and see what they can provide you for $50 or whatever you have to spend. Many provide a free consultation to discuss your goals. And one workout session can provide you with a program and tips on technique you can then do on your own. Arrange a session every one to two months to upgrade your routine so your fitness level keeps improving.
One thing I have learned that proves itself over and over to me is that one's physical health has a parallel existence to being fiscally healthy.
Pictured in order, via creative commons: Pierre LaScott, ~ggvic~, rich115