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How Staying in Shape Directly Impacts Your Wallet

Personal Finance

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.

A lady hitting the gym

Who hasn’t seen dozens of magazine covers proclaiming a quick way to get your “beach body”?

Looking good in a bikini is at the top everyone’s priority list as summer approaches. But, staying in shape has a direct impact on your wallet, too.

That’s right! Being in shape can reduce medications, help you avoid co-pays for doctor visits and possibly 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. She spent her high-school years running track and working on her dad’s triathlon road crew. But, in college she started having trouble keeping the weight off despite her active lifestyle. Eventually, Bennett was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes and polycystic ovarian syndrome. This diagnosis 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,” Bennett explained.

“That’s a total of $360 a year, which adds up quickly. Plus I have to factor in the quarterly doctor visits to run glucose and blood tests.”

Despite her health set-backs, Bennett decided to be proactive about her health. She began running as a way to cope with her stress and in hopes of getting healthier to wean off medication.

“[I figured] I would save over $500 a year by getting off 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 fallen in love with running.  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 reducing her medication, Bennett and her husband have changed their lifestyles to incorporate organic, low-glycemic food. They also use work commutes and spare minutes in the day to squeeze in extra workouts.

Bennett emphasizes eating healthy and organic can be affordable.

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. This allows them to 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 running is always free. With no membership required, it’s easy to throw on some sneakers and go pound the pavement.

Turn to a smartphone for motivation and encouragement.

“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.”

Plenty of other frugal fitness apps, like Couch to 5K, Fitocracy and Hot5, can help everyone from couch potatoes to fitness enthusiasts find an engaging workout.

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.

When it comes to your well-being, you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on expensive gym equipment in order to get fit and stay healthy.

Think about what you eat just like you think about your bank account.

Look at it this way: eating junk food is like taking money out of your 401(k) while running. Eating a salad is akin to putting 20 percent 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.

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