Have you ever wondered how you can get healthy on a frugal budget? Getting in shape is often easier said than done. How do I know this? Well, I spent many years in the gym helping people do this very thing. All total, I was a personal trainer for almost 9 years. Fitness has been a big part of my life for over 20 years and in those 20 years, I’ve learned a lot about getting healthy and helping others do the same.
A gym is a great place to get your fitness on! Some would say, since you’re paying for a membership, that’s motivation to make sure you use it. It’s also a great place to socialize with like minded people and the amenities can be awesome.
But what do you do if a gym membership just isn’t in your budget. Do you think that you need to put off getting in shape and healthy until your finances turn around and you can afford that hefty price tag that comes with a gym membership? No, you don’t! If you’re on a tight budget right now, the very last thing you want to do is spend your cash on a gym membership.
If you need to get healthy on a frugal budget, there are ways you can reach your health and fitness goals with hardly spending a cent.
How To Get Healthy On A Frugal Budget
Here are my favorite frugal fitness tips that will help you get healthy and fit on a frugal budget:
Drink More Water
The health benefits to drinking more water are mind boggling! I’m not sure why more people don’t do it. We live in an addicted society. A SUGAR addicted society and we’ve all heard of the ill effects that sugar has on our body AND our pocket books.
If you want to improve your mind and body, drop the sugary drinks and up your intake of good ole’ H20. Here’s some of it’s amazing benefits:
- Promotes weight loss! It fills you up if consumed prior to eating, it’s a natural appetite suppressant, raises your metabolism, has ZERO calories and it’s FREE!
- Helps to keep you regular. Yep! It’ll help to prevent constipation! It’s essential in aiding in digestion.
- Prevents headaches. One of the main causes of headaches is dehydration.
- Increases energy and relieves fatigue.
- Flushes nasty toxins out of your system. Keeps your plumbing functioning well.
- It’s CHEAP or FREE!! Even if you opt for bottle water, it’s still cheaper than sodas and lattes!
Don’t Skip Breakfast
When I would meet with a client for the first time, I would ask the usual questions prior to beginning the workout routine. Usually, my first question was “Do you eat breakfast”? More often than not, I knew the answer before they would they would even answer. It was usually “No”! The excuses ran from “I just don’t have time” to “No, I don’t, and I just keep gaining weight. I don’t get it”.
Well, my friends…skipping breakfast is probably the worst error you can make when trying to lose weight. Your body is in starvation mode because it hasn’t had any nourishment since dinner the night before. For most people, that’s an 18 hour (or more) fast. Therefore, your body slows your metabolism down to conserve the calories. YOU HAVE TO EAT TO LOSE WEIGHT! Think of your metabolism as a campfire. If you want it to keep burning, you have to keep adding fuel otherwise, the fire will go out.
If you find that you don’t have time to eat in the mornings, you NEED to meal plan. This will save you pounds and money.
Reduce Sugar Intake
So.Many.Benefits…The most obvious one is it will help you to lose weight. Refined sugar, ie. cookies, candy, soft drinks and sweets in general, are empty calories that are converted to fat. Plain and simple. Sugar in fruit mostly gets a pass, but even those in quantity can put the pounds on, so be careful. Some can be worse than others.
Reducing sugar can lessen your risk of cavities, can give you more energy, lowers risk of diabetes, lowers cholesterol levels, lowers blood pressure, improves skin tone and minimizes break outs.
You will also save money AND will become healthier, with less trips to the dentist and doctor and less of a need for certain medications. It’s a win win!
Get Enough Zzzzzz’s
Most of us know this to be true, but getting enough sleep is vital to our well being. We know how we feel when we get too little….Awful! It’s extremely hard to function on little to no sleep. Many experts have suggested that quality sleep is as important to our health and well being and proper nutrition and exercise. In addition, poor sleep habits have been linked to many medical conditions, including obesity, diabetes and cardio vascular disease.
You don’t need a gym to do cardio. Walking and running are great ways to get in shape and lose some weight. All you need is a good pair of shoes. You can use public parks, neighborhoods or malls (when the weather is bad.). Look for ways to up the cardio. Do you really need to park at the front door of the grocery store? Try parking a little ways out, where it’s less congested and walk.
Cleaning house is another great way to burn some calories. Sweeping, mopping, dusting and some great music is my favorite way! I absolutely adore cleaning house to 60’s Motown. Talk about getting the old ticker pumping! Having fun, getting my cardio in and getting my house clean is a triple win!
Workout At Home
Some of the best exercises do not involve any equipment and they can all be done from the comfort of your home. Use your own body weight for resistance. If you do need to invest in any equipment, I would recommend 2-3 different size dumbbells, especially if you’re just beginning. As your strength level goes up, you can go up with the dumbbell weights. Please make sure to consult with your doctor before starting any workout regimen, though.
Here are some great exercises that use your own body weight for resistance. Just make sure you do them correctly:
- Push ups – This is one of THE best for working multiple muscle groups. It works your chest, shoulders, triceps, back, biceps and abs. You may find it difficult, in the beginning, to do a few, but that’s ok. If you can’t do a full push up on your toes, start out on your knees. A push up done on your toes is equivalent to bench pressing 60% of your body weight. A push up done on the knees is equivalent to pressing 40% of your body weight. If doing them on your knees is still too difficult, you can do standing push ups, using a wall.
- Squats – Works everything below the waist! Proper form is essential.
- Tricep dips
Invest in basic equipment (or make your own)
Buy a pair or two of handheld weights, a jump rope, and an exercise ball. All of these items may cost you less than a gym membership’s fee for one month—and you only have to pay for the equipment once.
You can also get creative with items you may have around the house. An old pair of pantyhose or tights make great resistance bands. Water bottles, soda bottles (1.5ltr) and can goods can double as weights. Paper plates are great to help you slide on the floor when doing body sculpting.
As I stated above, if there was one thing I would splurge on, that would be a good pair of running or workout shoes.
Say “No” To Lululemon!
Workout clothes don’t have to be expensive to look good. $120 bucks for a pair of workout leggings is INSANE! I don’t care how much money you have! They don’t help you work out any better!…I promise! Walmart, Target, Old Navy, TJ Maxx and even thrift stores are great places to find reasonably priced workout attire.
There’s An App and A YouTube Video For That!
If you have a SmartPhone, there are tons of apps that can help you track your progress, help you log your food/calories and even help you workout! My Fitness Pal has been and still is my absolute favorite and it’s FREE!
With the age of YouTube, you literally have so many choices, it’s like have your very own personal trainer, right in your living room. And the best part?…They’re all FREE!!
Buy Used Equipment
Being the frugalista that I am, I very rarely pay full retail for anything. Gym equipment (Like treadmills, elliptical, stair masters, etc.) is the one thing that is very easy to find in almost new condition. People start the year off with good intentions and they buy new equipment, hoping to stay motivated, only to lose interest.
If you feel you need equipment like this, look on Craigslist, Ebay, VarageSale and garage sales. You can often find new or almost new equipment for a fraction of retail. So, before you head to Academy or other sporting goods stores, always check these places, first.
Look For Free Classes
In the town where I live, some of the churches and community center offer either free or low cost classes. I was able to take a free yoga class a couple of years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. The instructor had been teaching for years and she really made the class a lot of fun. I was in the class with several of my good friends and neighbors which turned out to be a lot of fun and very motivational!
Get a Partner
Sometimes, working out and cardio can get boring when you’re doing it alone. Having a partner can hold you accountable and can be very motivating. Whether it’s a little friendly competition that keeps you going or just having someone to make you go, even when you don’t feel like it, it’ll help you to kick procrastination and laziness to the curb!
Floss Your Teeth
Ok…You’re probably thinking what does flossing your teeth have to do with working out. Well, this post is about frugal tips to get healthy on a budget. There are other aspects to getting and being healthy other than eating right and working out.
Flossing your teeth is every bit as important to your oral hygiene as brushing is. It’s a proven fact that flossing not only prevents gum (periodontal) disease, but there’s an increasing amount of evidence linking periodontal disease to an increased risk of heart disease. Some researchers think that mouth infections can increase the levels of inflammatory substances in the blood, which can promote blood clots and slow blood flow to the heart.
Therefore, this is where the old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” holds true. The only thing that flossing will cost you is a couple minutes of your time and it may very well be the difference between life and death.
The bottom line is you don’t have to spend much to get fit and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Find what works for you. I use to tell my clients that it take three weeks to form a habit. If you can stay with it and look at it not as a “diet”, but as a lifestyle change, you’re half way there! If your budget has been holding you back, take that excuse off the table.
One more thing that I have found to be true is that when you begin to change your lifestyle from bad to healthy habits, you may just find that your finances will begin to change for the better, as well. When you feel better about yourself and your outlook on life, you’ll make better choices financially, professionally and relationally?
What are some of your favorite fitness tips on how to get healthy on a frugal budget? I’d love to hear from you!
Be sure to subscribe to Love To Frugal for more money saving ideas, tips and recipes!