Exercising for hours at a time is not a sustainable or realistic goal for many people, especially when they are working hard just to pay the bills or provide food for their family. But there tons of benefits to it as I and many others can contest too. For the few that manage to do it, it requires intense discipline, sacrifice and dedication. When people decide to do this, there are many ways to exercise for free and get all those health benefits. It does not need to be expensive either, and the cost of exercise can fit right into a monthly budget.
In this day of overwhelming schedules, pricey gyms, numerous financial obligations, increased cost of living and “to do” lists, exercise falls to the bottom of life priorities for most…though I am fortunate and it is high priority for me! The good news is you don’t need to exercise for long periods of time to reap the benefits as many health experts will attest to. It does not need to cost a lot of money, and low to moderate income families that may even need financial assistance have steps they can take to fit it into their budget.
Every little bit counts and adds up over the long term for health benefits, and living a healthier lifestyle can help people save money on their medical bills. Exercise also leads to a feeling of overall well-being and increased levels of confidence and happiness, which may lead to a higher paying job and financial security. It has helped me relieve stress from the last year.
Staying in shape can help families save money on doctor visits or prescriptions medications that result from unhealthy lifestyles. It can reduce diabetes, the chances of needing to file for SSI disability payments and other conditions. The long term benefits save people on their monthly bills, mostly their health care and prescription type needs.
Exercise also adds to feeling vital, being less susceptible to illness and increasing the odds for a long, productive life. Here are a few simple, inexpensive things you can incorporate into your daily routine to up your odds of getting exercise and movement in your life.
*Schedule your exercise time, maybe right after or before work. I usually go to a gym first thing in the morning. After all, work needs to stay the priority if you want to pay the bills! For many people, if they say they will exercise “later” it will never happen as the day often gets away from them. Make exercising a non-negotiable part of your day like showering, eating, going to work, etc. By making it a habit, it will help it become second nature and not something you have to think about—you will simply do it.
*Walk everywhere whenever possible, which can even save money. Especially with increasing transportation costs, including gasoline as well as mass transit, walking helps cut back on expenses. All those steps add up over the course of the day. Things like taking stairs, parking your car further from the store or simply taking a 5 to 10 minute walk during a work break or in your neighborhood a few times can potentially add up to miles a day.
*No need to pay an expensive bill for a gym each month. YouTube offers so many free exercise videos to assist low income and other families. There are actually so many choices it can be overwhelming in a good way. There are videos that cover every single type of exercise for any time period for any body part. While most are free, some may have a minimal fee. If you only have ten minutes and are living on a low income, there are free videos that can assist as they cover cardio, strength training, yoga, etc.
If boredom is a concern, whether at a gym or using online tools, you can do a different video every day and not have any repetition which is also good for your body. If costs are a concern, oftentimes, no equipment or minimal equipment is required for the routines. Working out at home using these free resources helps saves tons of time and money while eliminating all excuses about not making your health a priority. Or go for a run, which is free and can be done anywhere. I also jog, and sometimes on the beach as well. Everyone can find a place to go for a jog.
*When at home, perform simple moves while watching TV. This also reduce monthly bills for sports or exercising needs. Do thinks such as pushups, squats, leg lifts, etc while watching a show. Not only does this eliminate sitting for long periods, these moves can build up strength and endurance quickly. Even simply stretching of the arms, back and legs is good for overall flexibility which can prevent injuries, and needing to maybe claim disability from the government, in the future.
*If you work a desk job in order to make an income to pay the bills, make sure to stand every 15 to 30 minutes or take a stroll around the office if possible. Sitting for long periods of time is not what the human body was created for and studies have shown sitting is as bad as smoking or heavy drinking. It can eventually down the road lead to health or medical issues, and then expensive doctor visits. When in doubt, move your body.
*If you happen to be flying or taking a train, consider walking the perimeters of the airport or train station while waiting. You will be sitting for longer periods of time when you board, therefore, standing or walking prior to travel is good for your joints and flexibility. This also keeps people away from spending money at the food court or on frivolous shopping while they are waiting for their plane, so it saves money too.
*The YMCA will often have gyms on site. Children may receive free access to them which can benefit their growth and development, while the general public will be charges a much reduced rate to use the facility. The centers not only provide an affordable place to exercise at, but many YMCAs provide other social services to families living in poverty. There may be free food for children, affordable day care arranged for kids, and information on financial aid for school or college.
*Make sure to add some form of strength training a couple of time a week. There are many medical benefits to this. This is extremely important as you get older to keep the metabolism high, strengthen the bones to prevent osteoporosis and keep the body fluid and mobile. Women and even single moms especially need to incorporate some form of strength training due to bone loss with age. It will help your retirement savings last a little bit longer.
Bodyweight exercises as noted above or investing in a moderately heavy pair of dumbbells ($20-$40 dollars) or using heavy (but safe!) items at home like laundry detergent bottles, books, etc. will help build and sustain much needed strength. Strength training and cardio combined leads to an increase in fitness levels, increased immunity and will over the long term decrease the risk for sickness and injury.
*If you have children, consider making exercise a family event. It can assist the child by creating a routine for them. It does not need to be costly. Even low income families struggling with a financial hardship can go benefit by going to the park, taking a walk, walking to the store, carrying groceries, etc. are all free and oftentimes part of a daily routine anyway.
Watch 30 minutes less of TV a day and add some form of simple movement instead to your family routine. Get everyone off their cell phones and social networks, in which kids, teens and millennials in particular waste tens of hours per month. Then again, the majority of adults are only a little better when it comes to wasting time on those activities.
Or to save even more money each month, and get health benefits, disconnect the cable. This alone may lead your children to have less colds/stomach bugs, better concentration in school, increased happiness and quality sleep. It assists the family financially as well, as it may also increase confidence and security within themselves, which help them gain a better education. Set a good example and they will follow.
Daily exercise is not an impossible task. It does not need to be costly and does not require traveling to a gym or spending any hard earned money. Low income families have many ways to do this, and they can save on medical and even health insurance bills. Start off with just 10 minutes of mindful and deliberate movement a day and slowly add in an extra 5 minutes per day.
Before you know it, it will add up to 30 minutes and you will reap the benefits, including the financial ones, of exercise without making huge sacrifices to your time, commitments, or monthly bills! Families do not need to add another monthly bill to their budget from an exercise routine. There are inexpensive ways to do this that won’t crush a monthly budget. It does take some discipline and effort as all things worthwhile do, however, investing in your health is something you will never regret.