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5 Ways to Stay Fit on a Shoestring Budget

Staying in great physical health can be accomplished in many different ways– it doesn’t mean you have to sign up for a costly gym membership.

1. Let’s Start with Diet

We should all know by now that diet is a huge factor on health, and you’re more likely to stay in shape after you have adjusted your diet to a more healthful one.

Staying away from processed foods that are basically full of fat, sodium, sugar and high in calories is going to help tremendously in an effort to stay in shape.   These kinds of food, such as fast food, do harm to your health, add extra pounds and will sabotage your effort. 

Eating low on the food chain, and sticking with natural foods such as fruits, veggies, whole grains, brown rice and beans, are full of protein, fiber and metabolism boosting ingredients – and are some of the most healthful foods for the ridiculously low cost.  Beans can’t be beat for price verses benefit – they are full of protein, complex carbs and will keep you satisfied for hours. 


For a metabolism boost, drink lots of water, and stick to foods like grapefruits, apples and pears, broccoli, oatmeal and lean fish.  Water is number one… and we should all be drinking ‘nectar from heaven’ by the gallon for the full effect. 


Staying in shape on a budget can be accomplished – here are some great free and inexpensive ideas.


2. Walking/Running/Hiking


Statistics say that walking just 30 minutes per day can lower your heart attack risk 30 to 40 percent, not to mention it’s low impact benefits:

Lowering the bad (LDL) cholesterol
Raising the good (HDL) cholesterol
Lowering your blood pressure
Reducing your risk, or manage type 2 diabetes
Manage your weight
Improve your mood



Running has so many health and fitness benefits, they’re astonishing. All of the great runners are some of the fittest people on earth. It not only leads to a better outlook on life, but mental health as well: For example:

Cardio-respiratory fitness (aerobic cardio fitness)
Burns fat
Stress reliever
Fitness and stamina
Increases bone density
Builds muscle mass
Increases metabolism
Increased sex drive
Improved sleep
Improved mental health
Slows the aging process


This is a slower paced exercise, but it’s a lot of fun. Picking a trail near a waterfall or some other scenic wonder can be inspirational and exciting, as well as a great way to get some fresh air.

A study conducted in 2004 put hiking at the top of the ‘healthy activity’ list, especially when the hike included uphill and downhill.

Reduces LDL
Increases HDL
Improves mental health
Improves emotional health
Improves depression
Decreases chances of cancer
Improves diabetes
Builds lung capacity
Overall health and weight control

Studies showed that hiking in the mountains, near water or beautiful trees had strong affects on mental illness, as well as depression. Being in nature is something that’s soothing and healing and whether you do it for health reasons, or just to get outside, it’s worth the trek!

2. Bicycle riding:

Think of Lance Armstrong and his recovery from cancer, and the bike riding events that were the catalyst to his healthy recovery. However, let’s cover some of the health benefits:

Reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
Increases metabolism
Encourages weight loss
Mental health benefits
Muscle mass building
Builds lung capacity
Improves overall health


Not only are these excellent benefits, but also the sites you can see from a bicycle are some of the best available. Riding through the side streets of France or Italy (or your hometown) can be awe-inspiring and saves the cost of a rental or taxi. Let’s not forget the environmental impacts of traveling by bicycle, and the savings on gasoline, oil and car maintenance.


3. Yoga



The benefits of yoga have been recognized for centuries – and if you grab a mat and a video, or even an inexpensive class, you can gain the health and spiritual benefits of this age-old tradition.


Yoga is known for uniting the mind, body and spirit, and is therapeutic, helps posture, alignment and movement.  It creates flexibility in your bones, muscles, and mind.  It allows an inner peace, more energy and creates a general feeling of well being. 


The Ancient Theories of yoga are now proven by modern medicine and can reform your life, as well as your physical body. 


4. YMCA or Recreation Center


These are undiscovered gems for working out on a budget.  Most recreation centers allow free basketball, tennis and a host of gym equipment – for free.  Some places, such as the YMCA charge a minimal fee, but much cheaper than a full-blown gym membership.


Some YMCA or rec centers have group fitness classes in which you can sign up for minimal fees and enjoy working out or exercising in a group environment. 


If you just want to work out with machines, this is the budget method!


5.  Stair climbing:


Remember the movie “Rocky” and his workout regimen that included running up stairs.  This is the cheapest and one of the most effective workouts that you can do without an audience, and for free.  It’s cardio effective, and great for a quick 10 – 20 minute workout on lunch or if you are on a time budget.


Find yourself a set of stairs – a multiple story building is a great start, they all have indoor stairwells and start running up and down them.  You will be astonished at the workout you get. 


Remember, in any workout regimen getting plenty of sleep is essential, as well as taking a good vitamin/mineral supplement – and most important – drink tons of water! 


So there you have it! Just get outside. It’s FREE!


Kristy Ramirez is an online entrepreneur and freelance personal finance writer for Life Insurance Finder, where she takes people through the steps to find affordable life insurance.

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