One of the truths of getting older is that it takes a lot more work to maintain one’s fitness as compared to when we were younger. Not only do you need to be serious about watching what you eat, but what you eat is more likely to stick to unwanted places. Thus, began my search for balance between staying fit and saving money.
Considering past efforts, I’ve weighed my two most-successful options in this struggle: the gym or on my own. There are certainly benefits to both. The gym offers a supportive atmosphere and has all sorts of incredible equipment. On the other hand, there is the monthly fee, travel to and from the gym, childcare arrangements, and the regret of not taking advantage of the gym as often as I should.
I feel it isn’t good to be too hard on myself, so I am taking the low-pressure path and finding it really quite pleasant. I have to make the exercise a part of my day or it just doesn’t get done.
Here are several activities that make me feel fit:
Shopping the low and high shelves: Bending down or stretching up to get the cheaper store brands is a great workout that is easy on the wallet. Reaching for the store-brand beans, for instance, can save almost 15 cents per can. Searching for the dry beans at the very lowest bottom rack will typically cost you even less.
Walking with your friends tones your body and strengthens friendships: It’s great to have an exercise buddy, and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know my friends better by walking with them at least once a week. Several of my friends also watch their budgets and it is a good time to share our tips and struggles.
Ditch the car: Our thankfully mild winter weather allows people to park their car and queue up for public transportation and/or walk to the store. It can be a few more trips if you forget your foldable cart at home, but carrying home two gallons of milk should be considered weight lifting!
Bike to stores that are farther away: We purchased a bike trailer when our kids were little and it has carried far more than the children. I was able to pack it with a full cart of groceries one day. It was amazing and, yes, heavy. Another great weight workout that is also is classified as a cardio workout.
Reconnect with your old love: Running has been a good to me in the past, but it has been sorely neglected in the past few years. Thanks to a great gift certificate, I was able to get some good shoes and start jogging again. I’m not the sort to run lots of miles, enter races and join the clubs, so the cost of this venture remains at a pair of shoes about every nine months.
Park far away: When I do have to drive somewhere, I park farther away from my destination. As long as I feel safe, it provides a little walk to the store or business and that, coupled with pushing a full cart all the way back to the car can certainly burn some calories.
Fitness equipment: Haven’t we all invested in the large exercise equipment that finally is used to hang clothes on? My best investment was a pair of dumbbells and to help tone my upper body. They are only 5-pound dumbbells, which sell for about $16 for two. I can step up the intensity with more repetitions or two sessions per day. Searching for “dumbbell workout” in your Internet search engine will find many good routines that you can tailor to your fitness level.
Hopefully, these ideas will help get you started on your road to fitness. Be sure to see your doctor before increasing your activity level, though. Your doctor may have some further, low-cost fitness ideas too!