How to Get Fit on a Budget
Most people are well aware of the health benefits of regular exercise. But what's less obvious are the numerous financial incentives for getting fit and staying active.
By now, most people are well aware of the health benefits of regular exercise. But what's less obvious are the numerous financial incentives for getting fit and staying active. According to reporting from Time.com, numerous studies have found a link between higher rates of exercise and increased productivity. Another report from the National Health Call Center Group found convincing evidence that people who exercise and participate in fitness programs had lower health care costs and reduced rates of disability caused by injury or illness.
Clearly, working out is nearly as good for your wallet as it is for your waistline. Unfortunately, it can also require a serious investment before seeing results. The cost of equipment, gym memberships and other ancillary expenses can turn many people off to the potential benefits of exercise. But it doesn't have to be this way. By adopting some smart budget practices, it's possible to maximize the return on your exercise investment.
Hit the gym
According to research aggregator StatisticBrain, the average cost of a typical gym membership is around $58 per month. Factoring in the amount that people actually go to the gym after signing up, researchers estimate that as much as 39 of those dollars go under utilized.
"A gym membership is a good investment, if you use it regularly."
Many people rely on a gym for access to equipment and space that they wouldn't otherwise have. This means that a gym membership is generally a sound investment, if you plan on taking regular advantage of it. Make sure the gym you sign up for is in a convenient location and has everything you're looking for. There's nothing that discourages people like a long slog from home or work just to work out.
If you're looking to maximize your membership value and you live in the right location, it may be worth checking out your local public or nonprofit fitness centers. Most municipalities have a community center with at least basic fitness facilities. If you're in a major metropolitan area, there are probably several of these to choose from nearby. Community center gyms are often much cheaper than corporate gyms while retaining the most vital equipment and services, and sometimes even a little extra. In fact, Washington, D.C., recently announced it would be waiving the membership fee for all of its public fitness centers in 2016, according to the Washington Post. Cities have a vested interest in keeping their residents healthy, so it makes sense to take advantage of these benefits where they're available.
Many also rely on their local Young Men's or Women's Christian Association location for their fitness needs. While the cost of a YMCA or YWCA membership varies by location, and can sometimes be more expensive than public options, they do offer financial assistance for some families.
Skip the gym
While gyms or fitness centers may provide specialty equipment, classes or other amenities that you can't find elsewhere, there's no rule that says a gym membership is the only way to get in shape. By taking advantage of your surroundings, or even your living room furniture, you can get a great workout for free.
- Bodyweight fitness: Pushups, pullups and crunches are all exercises that use gravity as resistance, thus requiring hardly any equipment at all to perform. StartBodyWeight.com includes many basic bodyweight workouts from a beginner's level all the way up to more advanced techniques.
- Playgrounds or "park gyms": Although it might scare off the kids, playgrounds are great substitutes for gyms, especially if you don't have the equipment for bodyweight exercises at home. Many parks also have circuit training equipment dispersed along a running trail. To use these "park gyms," run or jog from station to station and perform the exercise. Within about 30 minutes, you'll have gotten a full workout.
- Videos or subscriptions: Home workout videos are almost as old as the VCR, but they are still widely used by budget-conscious fitness fanatics. While you can still purchase videos for training at home, there are also many available for free on YouTube, as Lifehacker noted. There are also a variety of free and paid apps or subscription services that will always provide a new and exciting way to work out.
Now that you're saving money and getting in shape, talk to your local Vectra Bank to learn how to put the extra cash to good use.