You don't need expensive health club memberships or exercise equipment that costs thousands of dollars to stay in shape, says Carol Johnson, director of wellness at the University of Richmond.
You can walk or run anytime and just about anywhere, Johnson says. Just buy a pair of walking or running shoes for about $50. Compare that to forking over $3,000 for a treadmill or elliptical trainer. Hiking trails, local running tracks or the sidewalks around your neighborhood are just a few of the places you can use. If the weather's foul, stay inside and run in place or walk inside a shopping mall.
Also, instead of a fancy piece of stair-climbing equipment that can cost thousands of dollars, use real stairs. "Run up and down your stairs. Go up and down four or five at a time or do the whole flight," Johnson says.
Forget about the burden of paying for strength-training equipment. "You can use canned goods if you're on a budget. Or lift some of your furniture," Johnson says.
There are other ways to get cheap or free exercise, says Tom Roberts, director of campus education at the University of Richmond.
"Walking, gardening, washing the car, playing with children or grandchildren are all activities most people don't consider as part of their daily fitness routine. But they count, too," Roberts says.
He offers some spending and other recommendations that include:
- $40 for a comfortable pair of shoes to develop endurance.
- $15 for a jump rope to improve conditioning and fitness.
- $20 for a set of dumbbells to increase strength and flexibility.
- Do things you can do, and avoid activities you can't do. For example, don't take up running if you have bad knees. Start swimming instead.
- Find things you like to do. Don't do an activity just because other people like it.
- Do different exercises that use a variety of muscles.
- Talk to you doctor before your start any exercise program.
The American Heart Association has more information on starting an exercise program.