5 Ways to Stay Healthy and Fit on a Budget

5 Ways to Stay Healthy and Fit on a Budget

Living longer, increase your confidence, sleep better, and be more productive are only a few reasons why we want to be healthy and fit. Many of us understand the benefits of exercise and eating right, but not all of us have the resources nor time to accomplish this.

Expensive gym memberships might deter us from having the healthy lifestyle we want, but staying healthy and fit does not always require a lot of money. Instead, it requires adopting habits that lay the groundwork for you to be healthy and fit. Regular exercise and healthy eating will help to minimize health problems and lower healthcare expenses in the long run.

Here are 5 tips for you to stay healthy and fit without making too much of a dent in your wallet.

Avoid Sitting at Every Opportunity

Most people have jobs that require them to sit for most of the day. I am one of those people. Between working, eating and “relaxing”, I can sit up to 10 hours a day. On average, Americans can sit up to 13 hours a day! Sitting for breakfast, lunch and dinner; sitting in the car on your drive to and from work; then sitting for another 8+ hours at the desk … that’s a lot of sitting!

This kind of sedentary lifestyle is just not healthy for us. Not only does this cause neck and back pain, which I’m definitely a victim of, it also leads to weight issues which in turn leads to other detrimental health concerns.

To combat sitting for too long at work, I have a standing desk which I use for part of the day. Research shows that standing desks help decrease fatigue and increase productivity and creativity for workers, and is also helpful with weight maintenance.

We burn more calories when we stand. I try to always stand when I talk on the phone or read news articles. Many companies now offer standing desks or even treadmill workstations. The point is to keep the body moving.

Many of the chairs that we enjoy sitting in have too much cushion and are just too comfortable, which may result in slouching. Slouching causes the spine to bend, and prolonged exposure to this bending will cause it to be pain-sensitive.

So avoid sitting for long periods each day and you’ll be surprised how much your body and mind will thank you!

Don’t Drink Your Calories

I have completely lost track of all the different types of sugary drinks on the grocery shelves and those offered at restaurants these days. It seems like there’s a new type of soda or juice every week. All of these drinks are packed with sugar and calories, it’s no wonder studies have linked sugary beverages to type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Not only is soda consumption bad for your teeth and health, it’s impacting your wallet too. No one should be surprised that beverages have the highest profit margin for restaurants. Just the thought of paying $3.00 for sugary carbonated water should make you wince. Don’t ever drink your calories!

Less obviously, fruit juices are often loaded with a similar level of sugar as a soda! Some people have the misconception that fruit juices are good for you. Fruit juice is missing a lot of components that makes a whole fruit healthy, and you’re just left with the “bad parts”.

As far as beverages, I try to stick with water, black coffee and tea. Staying away from the fancy drinks will help both your waistline and your wallet.

Working Out Without Paying for Gym Membership

Do you really need to pay for a gym membership in order to stay in shape? I used to belong to a gym near my house. Sadly, like a lot of other people, I stopped going after a while. Not only do you need to be motivated enough to drive to a gym, the thought of using the same equipment daily — or even weekly — can be rather dull.

I would argue that having a gym membership might actually cause you to work out less — it gives you excuses to not workout … because of the rain, bad traffic, too tired at work … etc. I find YouTube to be a better fitness trainer for me. YouTube is available 24/7 and has different types of exercise videos so you are never bored. You can follow the workouts right at home, and best of all, it’s free!  

Enjoy the Great Outdoors

The average American spends almost 90% of every day indoors. Between commuting to and from work, sitting at the office and watching TV, people are spending more time than ever indoors.

Spending hours watching Netflix or browsing through social media is going to deprive you of enjoying your local park and hiking trails. Research shows that spending time outdoors improves not only your mood and memory, it strengthens your immune system and help you live longer.

Developing healthy habits include having an active lifestyle that involves moving around. Make it a routine to take strolls in your neighborhood after dinner. Family excursions don’t necessarily need to include expensive trips to the amusement park; a relaxing bike ride with the whole family or beach picnic are fun options to help everyone stay healthy and fit on a budget .

Follow a Healthy Eating Habit

In addition to regular exercise, the other part of the equation that is just as important is having good eating habits. Atkins diet, Keto diet, Paleo diet or intermittent fasting may be trending at the moment, but the best way to adopt good eating habits is to try and understand some basics of healthy eating.

Develop a routine of reading food labels and choose options that are low in sodium, sugar and saturated fat. Eating foods high in dietary fiber (grains, fruit, vegetables, nuts, and beans) can help you lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Replace processed food with fresh and natural food. Try to stay away from cookies, pastries, cakes, and fried foods. Always have healthy snacks around the house so you don’t have an excuse to reach for those potato chips.

Unless your name is Tom Brady, it’s hard for us to be perfect all the time. Eating a small portion of something you really crave is probably better than eating a large amount of “diet” versions of the snack. Something may say “low-fat” but still have plenty of sugar.  

All in all, most healthy eating habits come down to common sense. You might be surprised at how attainable it is to stay healthy and fit on a budget if you embrace smart choices together as a family.