By Kelly Hodges
One of the best investments a person can make is an investment in their own health. Eating right, getting enough sleep, and exercising on a consistent basis will all pay dividends by keeping your body healthy and therefore cutting down on health care and medication costs. Although the official Center for Disease Control recommendations for exercise vary a bit by age, the bottom line is that the more you move, the healthier you will be.
For some people a gym membership is a wise decision. If joining a gym is the motivation that you need to get some exercise, then that is a wise long-term investment. As we all know though, joining a gym isn’t what gets you into shape, it’s the actual exercising that does the trick. It’s not at all necessary to pay monthly fees to get in a good workout. There are countless ways to get and stay in shape that are absolutely free, and will give you the same results in the end.
My personal favorite form of exercise is running, which is no surprise because it’s also 100% free. I can lace up my shoes and dart out my door and I’m off to the races! Running is a total body workout, involving your arms and legs as well as your core. Almost anyone can become a runner, even those who feel they are far from being in shape. No surprise here, but there are even apps for those looking to improve their running form. After my 4th child was born and I decided it was time to get back into running, I downloaded the Couch to 5K app onto my phone for free. This program took me from totally out of shape to 5K form in only 8 weeks, and only required a commitment of 30 minutes three times per week. No matter what your fitness level or running goal, there is likely an app for that.
If running isn’t your cup of tea there are many other great ways to exercise without the gym. Biking, playing pick up basketball games with friends, or practicing soccer with your kids will all increase your heart rate and burn calories. There are also many great exercise DVDs that you can check out from your library or view on YouTube. These can be done in the comfort of your own home when you have a free 30 minutes, rain or shine, therefore eliminating all excuses that you don’t have time to exercise!
If you’re having trouble sticking with the exercise plan, then find an accountability partner! It is much harder to bale on an exercise plan when you’ve committed to do it with a friend. Plan to meet and go on a bike ride or jog twice a week. Encourage and motivate each other if you have a hard time motivating yourself.
It is always a good idea to invest in your health. If a gym membership is what it takes for you to stay fit, then go for it, but keep in mind it’s not the only option. Finding frugal fitness alternatives are just as effective, and in my opinion more fun as well.
Any opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author, and do not in any way represent the views or opinions of her employer or any other person or entity.