Did you make one of those resolutions to be healthier or lose weight or exercise more this year? Or maybe you’re just looking for something to motivate you to start moving more, improve your fitness and get healthier. Sure, you could join a gym or hire a personal trainer. But, for wannabe-fit frugalistas, here are seven inexpensive fitness alternatives to help get you off to a healthy start in 2016.
This old school yard toy is a simple and efficient way to burn some calories. In just 10 minutes, a 150-pound person can burn roughly 90 calories jumping slowly and almost 140 jumping at a faster pace. Subtract about 20 calories from each if you’re closer to 125 pounds, and add about 30 to 40 calories if you’re closer to 200 pounds. And that’s in just 10 minutes. Do that three times a day, and that 150-pound person can lose about a pound a week. Jump ropes can cost as little as $2 and can go up to $20 or more. Keep in mind they all do the same thing, buying a more expensive one doesn’t mean you’ll get healthier more quickly.
Great for yoga and more. Yoga mats provide a more comfortable surface on which to do sit ups, push ups and much more. Plus, it helps keep your feet or hands from slipping when doing certain exercises. These start around $14 and go on up. Again, a more expensive one won’t help you get fitter faster, but you may decide to spend a little more for one with a storage bag or carry handle, depending on where you plan on using it.
It’s free, easy, requires no equipment (aside from sneakers) and you can do it anywhere. Walk around your neighborhood, a local school track, or inside your local mall (just no stopping for shopping). Walk quickly enough to be a bit out of breath but not so fast you can’t speak. As it gets easier, simply increase your pace and/or add some ankle or wrist weights.
Think walking isn’t worth it? Check this out: A 150-pound person can lose seven pounds a year walking just 30 minutes five days a week at a 2 mph pace (in 30 minutes, you’ll walk one mile), or 11 pounds a year walking the same amount at a 3 mph pace (walking 1 1/2 miles in 30 minutes) or 13 pounds walking at a 4 mph pace (you’ll cover two miles in that 30 minutes). All that weight loss is from changing nothing in you life except adding the walking. Just imagine what could happen if you made a couple of simple changes in your diet, too.
- Exercise shows/DVDs
Take advantage of your cable company’s on-demand service or your Netflix streaming for more than just movies and TV shows. Exercise shows are available at no extra cost beyond what you’re already paying your cable or movie company. You can also buy exercise DVDs. Many are quite affordable, and can be found as low as $5. There are countless types of exercise shows and DVDs to try from, no matter what style you like. Choose from those based on dancing, boot camp, calisthenics, and so much more. One good series is called 10-minute solution. These videos are broken down into about five 10-minute chunks. Each day you may choose any of the 10-minute workouts you like and do one or more. They’re perfect when you don’t have a lot of time to exercise or don’t quite feel like you’re ready for a big workout but just want to start doing something.
Sometimes just being aware of how much (or how little) you’re moving can be a big motivator to get you to move more. A simple pedometer clipped to your belt or pants can track how many steps you take over the course of the day. Set a simple goal such as 5,000 steps per day and see how close you get to it over a day. If you meet your goal, set a higher goal the next day. If not, think of ways you can boost your step count. Those little things we hear all the time really can make a difference. Activities like parking further from the door, using the stairs more, or walking across the office to talk to your co worker instead of calling or emailing are simple ways you can get more movement into your day. You can find a basic pedometer for under $10 or spend more for all kinds of bells and whistles. There are also several free or inexpensive pedometer apps for Apple and Android that count your steps using your cellphone.
That’s right, going old-school again. If you can manage to get that hoop spinning and staying up, you’ve got a great aerobic exercise. I tried over and over (and over) again, but finally got it. For me, it was all about having one foot a bit in front of the other, but you can check out countless YouTube videos with various how-to tips and techniques. This is a fun one if you have kids. You can all hoop together, or as we do sometimes, just put on your favorite music and while they dance, I hoop. It’s a great idea if you struggle to find time for your family and time to exercise. There are plenty of expensive, weighted hoops on the market, but you can easily start with just a plain one, which should run you about $15 or less.
- Eat healthier
Finally, I couldn’t talk about getting healthier without mentioning food. Eating healthier can give you energy and help you lose a few pounds. Often the sheer act of losing a few pounds is enough to motivate you to want to make some healthy changes in your life. It’s one of those positive cycles: lose weight, exercise more, lose more weight, eat healthier and so on. Here are 10 great, inexpensive books that can guide you making healthier food choices.