Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Fitness on a Shoestring

What’s the hot topic the first week of 2012? Exercise! We all want to maintain a healthy weight, prevent diabetes and cancer, and lower our risk of heart and vascular disease. We agree with fitness expert Denise Austin who says, “God gave us one body. We have to take good care of it.”

However, if you are like me, your budget is as tight as your jeans! We can’t afford to join a gym or buy lots of exercise equipment! Are there inexpensive alternatives that will provide the recommended 150 minutes of exercise each week?

Yes! Flattening our abs needn’t flatten our wallets! Try these tips for fitness on a shoestring:
  • Record exercise programs from TV. My favorite comes on at 9:00 AM—not a convenient time for me. Modern technology wipes away our excuses and allows us to sweat along with trained professionals.
  • Exchange equipment. Pricey exercise equipment gathers dust in many homes. Would you rather have a root canal than get on your treadmill one more time? Swap it for your neighbor’s stationary bike.
  • Borrow workout DVDs. The librarian at our church collected used exercise DVD’s and encouraged members to borrow one for a month, then trade it for another.
  • Purchase DVDs used. Local newspapers, and,com sell tons of these.
  • Buy used exercise equipment. Check the Classifieds in your local newspaper or online at, a network of urban communities, featuring free ads.
  • Invite a friend to join you. Whether walking, doing aerobics, or attempting any other kind of exercise, a friend always adds interest and accountability.
  • Organize an exercise group at your local church. At ours we start with prayer requests, then work out together to a DVD. It’s great fellowship to boot!
  • Accept free trial offers at area gyms. They have a program you can afford. At the very least you may get some new ideas of things you would like to try at home.
  • Walk! Invest in comfortable sneakers with good support and walk around your neighborhood, the high school track, or area state or national parks. The variations in terrain will keep you from working the same muscles over and over and the change of scenery will brighten your outlook.
  • Take a walking lunch. Ask colleagues to join you. Walking not only burns calories, it reduces stress and recharges our batteries—something we all could benefit from about mid-way through the workday.

According to the staff at the Mayo Clinic exercise not only helps us lose weight and combat chronic diseases, it also improves our mood, strengthens the heart and lungs, promotes better sleep, and—shhhh—can even put the spark back into your sex life. With a little self-motivation and ingenuity born of frugality, we can become healthier and, believe it or not, stay within our budget!

To a healthier you!

©2012 Pamela D. Williams
first published in VILLAGE LIVING--August 2009