Dancing in the streets may be the frugal way to get a workout, given these tough economic times.
But luckily there are many other ways to stay in shape and maintain an active lifestyle without emptying the wallet.
“Getting active doesn’t require a big investment of time or money,” says Kelly Murumets, CEO and president of ParticipACTION, a non-profit organization that encourages healthy, active living among Canadians. “Simple activities, like doing errands on foot, walking your dog or taking the stairs, can make a big difference in your health.”
Murumets says that walking is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to stay active, whether it is walking to work, the grocery store, the subway, or up and down the stairs. “You don’t need a budget to get active — you just need to get moving,” she said.
She says there are simple things people can do to stay active on a budget, such as dancing in the living room, doing yoga, playing soccer with family and friends, lifting loads of laundry, tobogganing, shovelling snow or even cleaning the house, to name a few.
Cardio activities are not the only things needed to stay in shape — core muscles groups also need to be worked, and going to a gym is not the only way to increase strength. “You (don’t) need to spend a lot of money on fancy gadgets or the latest technology to keep it interesting. There are many household items you can use to make sure you keep moving,” says trainer Ivy Lim, owner of iPower Train Fitness. She suggests using a countertop, a bench or two chairs to do triceps work, or taking two large cans from the pantry and trying bicep curls.
There are also some simple and inexpensive things you can buy to help with working those core groups. Lim recommends tubing or exercise bands as resistant tools. “They come in different lengths and tension, so you can use them for all your major muscle groups,” she says, as well as a stability ball, which can be used for abs, legs and arms.
If you despise exercising solo, there is a solution to make staying active more fun. Lim says to find a power-walking pal or a running/walking/sporting team in your neighbourhood. “There are now a lot of bootcamp programs with various price ranges — it doesn’t tie you in to a year-long membership,” she adds.
Murumets says that instead of meeting friends for coffee or dinner, to invite the friends to walk the dog or even signing up for classes at the community centre. “It’s easier to get moving with a friend or partner — and it’s definitely more fun,” she says.
Overall, trainer Ivy Lim, of iPower Train Fitness, offers these tips on working out at home or outdoors for less:
• Free body movement: using your own body weight for movement and resistance.
• Pushups: using the wall or bench.
• Squats and lunges: varying stances and angles.
• Jumping jacks, running on the spot and “air” rope skipping.
• 10 minutes of upper body work, 10 minutes of lower body work and five minutes of abs.
(Note: Always consult your doctor before trying any exercise activity.)
The essential tools
Kelly Murumets, CEO and President of ParticipACTION, recommends these inexpensive exercise tools and gear:
• Endurance: invest in running shoes for walks, runs and bike rides.
• Flexibility: yoga mat and favourite music to dance or stretch to.
• Strengthening: light weights, dumbbells, medicine ball and surgical tubing.