As the weather finally begins to warm up and the layers of clothes decrease, people anxiously throw on their gym shoes or do a few crunches before bed.
Who hasn’t seen dozens of magazine covers proclaiming a quick way to get your body “beach ready?”
Other than feeling good in a bikini (or speedo), staying in shape has a direct impact on your wallet. Tweet this
Being in shape can reduce medications, avoid co-pays for doctor visits, and possibly even lower your monthly insurance costs.
If you need to get in shape, you can still guard your hard-earned cash by utilizing free or cheap methods for breaking a sweat.
Laura Bennett, a political coordinator living in Washington, DC, understands the need to get in shape for both her health and her wallet.
Bennett grew up as an athlete and spent her high-school years running track and working on her dad’s triathlon road crew, but in college she was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes.
A later diagnosis of polycystic ovarian syndrome explained why such an active young woman had a difficult time shedding pounds.
“I spend about $30 on medication for diabetes every month – just on the daily pill I take (Metformin),” Bennett explained.
“That’s a total of $360 a year, which adds up quickly, plus quarterly doctor visits to run glucose and blood tests and have check-ups.”
The 24-year-old decided to become proactive about her health and began running as a way to cope with her stress and get healthy in the hopes of weaning off medication.
“[I figured] I would save over $500 a year by getting off of my medicine completely, meaning fewer doctor visits as well,” said Bennett. “That number still flashes in my head as I run up a hill!”
Over the years, Bennett has not only fallen in love with running, but she’s finished two half-marathons, a number of 5K and 10K races and started to chronicle her journey on a blog called “Finding My Strong.”
On her journey to getting healthy and off medication, Bennett and her husband have changed their lifestyles to incorporate organic, low-glycemic food, and use their work commutes and spare minutes in the day to squeeze in extra workouts.
Bennett emphasizes that it’s possible to eat healthy, and organic, without spending $300 a week at Whole Foods.
She buys in bulk at Costco, which offers low-cost organic produce. Bennett and her husband budget $100 a week for meals – they both stay frugal by brown bagging their lunches – and rarely go over budget.
When the healthy couple aren’t stuffing themselves with salad, they take advantage of the change in seasons to seek out cost-effective exercise classes in their community.
“Now that spring is here, we have a ton of free fitness opportunities popping up, from free boot camp classes outdoors, bi-weekly yoga classes in the park, free running groups, and more,” said Bennett excitedly.
“I try to take advantage of as many as I can to switch up my fitness routine.”
Bennett is quick to point out that running is always free, with no membership required to throw on some sneakers and go pound the pavement.
For those who need the extra push for motivation, they can turn to a smartphone.
“There’s an app for that” even applies to your work out.
“I recently blogged about the 7-Minute Workout app,” said Bennett. “It provides a great high intensity interval training circuit to add to the end of a cardio workout. I also use MapMyRun, a free run tracker, on a daily basis. It helps me create routes, track my mileage, and find new paths.”
Gamers can even turn their Xbox console into a personal trainer by accessing Xbox Fitness. The system offers classes from famous workout gurus Jillian Michaels and Tracy Anderson.
Modern luddites will just have to miss out on all the free or cheap exercise options technology can afford us and stick to just running outside (without music!).
When it comes to your well-being, you needn’t spend hundreds of dollars on an expensive gym membership in order to get fit and stay healthy.
In fact, you should think about what you eat just like you think about your bank account.
Putting in junk food is like taking money out of your 401(k) while running and then eating a salad is akin to putting 20% of each paycheck into savings.
Utilize the devices at your disposal to get a great workout for free, and use the money you save to take a vacation to the beach and show off that new body.