Editor’s note: This article is another in a series from the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation about making healthy lifestyle choices on a budget.
EXERCISING ON A BUDGET:
MAKING AN IMPACT WITHOUT MAKING A BIG INVESTMENT
By: David Kraybill, Executive Director, Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation
Are you one of those individuals who can easily find an excuse not to exercise? I had to do this. I had to do that. I have my kids. I’m tired. It’s dark out. It’s not in my budget to join a gym or buy expensive equipment. Well, you can cross that last one off your list of excuses—you can exercise if you’re on a budget and you don’t have to join a gym or invest big bucks. In fact, there are so many low-cost or free ways to exercise, by yourself or with your family, you may start to find those other excuses are no longer necessary.
According to the guidelines from the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services, individuals should have at least 30 minutes of daily physical activity to reduce the risk of chronic diseases in adulthood. So, you may be pleasantly surprised to find out how often and affordably you can fit exercise into your day and reach your 30 minute minimum without trying too hard or changing too much of your routine.
Start small. Did you know that you can turn almost your entire day into an exercise routine? Consider:
• Using the self-check out at stores – not only is it faster, but scanning and bagging your
own groceries is more movement than you would normally get when using the regular
• Taking the steps instead of the elevator – sound familiar? That’s because it works. If
you’re on the 25th floor, start small – go up a few flights and add more flights as you
• Cleaning your house – yes, you get exercise every time you vacuum, scrub the floor,
and polish the furniture—30 minutes of housework can burn up to 215 calories!
• Doing squats or lunges while brushing your teeth or waiting for the microwave.
• Balancing on one leg while drying your hair, shaving or putting makeup on.
• Doing exercises during commercials while watching your nightly TV—ab crunches,
squats, “jump” rope, march in place.
• Mowing the lawn and weeding the garden in spring and summer, and raking the leaves
and shoveling the snow during fall and winter.
• Parking in the farthest away space so you have a longer walk to the store.
Perhaps you are interested in more structured exercise, not just what you can fit in where you can. There are many FREE things you can do to get started. Try:
• Walking or jogging – still the best bargain there is. However, the one investment you do
want to make is in good athletic shoes.
• Putting on some music and dancing.
• Going online and finding free workouts on YouTube.com
• Finding an exercise program on TV.
• Checking out exercise DVDs from your local library.
• Hiking and biking – check out http://www.missionhealthyliving.org for local parks, bike trails
and hiking spots in our local area. (Check out local parks at the Parks & Rec page at PositivelyPtown.com, too!)
• Strength training – using just your body as resistance. Try squats, lunges, calf raises,
push ups, tricep dips and crunches. Not sure how? Look it up on YouTube.
• Scouting around in your basement or garage for old fitness equipment that you may
have purchased long ago, but forgot about. You may find a basketball, tennis racket,
Frisbee, paddle ball games, baseballs, step equipment, etc. that you can begin to use
Low-Budget At-Home Gyms
Having an at-home gym does not mean you have to invest in a costly machine. There are many ways to build a gym at home that will not set your budget back. Consider:
• Making your own weights from full soup cans, laundry detergent bottles and water
bottles; milk or orange juice jugs filled with sand; and PVC pipes filled with sand.
• Seeking out used equipment from garage sales, relatives or friends, Craigslist,
Play it Again Sports stores and Ebay.
• Making a modest investment in versatile, but inexpensive equipment: medicine ball,
jump rope, dumbbell set, resistance tubing, exercise/stability ball, mirror, step bench.
Finally, just when you think there cannot possibly be more choices to exercising on a budget—good news, there is! Consider:
• Seeking out low-cost, local fitness classes that are not associated with a gym.
offers Zumba classes.
• Starting a fitness class at work if you have the interest and the room—kettlebells,
Zumba, yoga, etc. There are many local trainers and teachers who may be looking to
teach extra classes. The more people you get, the less expensive it will be!
• Starting a fitness class at work, not with a trainer, but with a DVR player. Take turns
bringing in your fitness DVDs and get moving.
• Looking into low-cost gym options. Planet Fitness offers a membership for only $10
a month and the YWCA also has low-cost options.
Above all else, exercise should be fun—if it is, you are more likely to do it on a regular basis. If you need motivation, buddy up with a friend or involve your family. And now you know there are many different inexpensive and free choices for exercise that will not impact your budget, but will have a big impact on your health. Get started today!
About the Foundation – The Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation’s mission is to enhance the health and wellness of area residents, providing education, funding and programs that motivate people to adopt healthy lifestyles. Visit www.pottstownfoundation.org for more information about the Foundation. Discover Pottstown area’s online community at www.missionhealthyliving.org to learn and share great information on how to lead a healthier life!