Get Fit on a Shoestring Budget !

by Greg Landry, M.S, Exercise Physiologist

Aside from all the health benefits of exercise, a good exercise program can also help you save money and possibly even make more money....and you can implement an effective, comprehensive exercise program with very little expense.

Research has demonstrated that people who exercise on a regular basis save thousands of dollars in medical expenses over a lifetime. Because exercise improves the immune system, exercisers usually experience fewer colds and other respiratory infections and thus have fewer "down days" and doctor bills. Exercisers also have fewer lower back problems, and the incidence of heart attacks, strokes, and certain cancers is lower in exercisers!

Exercise also increases mental acuity, reduces fatigue, and improves the quality of sleep...leading to improved productivity and quality of life for most people.

A comprehensive exercise program consists of two components; aerobic and anaerobic. They work together to give you all the benefits you can derive from an exercise program.

  1. Aerobic exercise refers to exercises like brisk walking, jogging, swimming, aerobic dance, outdoor cycling, stationary cycling, rowing, stair climbing, etc. The benefits of aerobic exercise are numerous including increased caloric expenditure, increased metabolism, increased energy levels, decreased incidence of cardiovascular disease, etc.

    The simplest, most liked, and usually least expensive of these is walking. Or, If you already have the required equipment such as a rower or stationary cycle, or access to a swimming pool, these would also be inexpensive options. If you're interested in buying exercise equipment, never buy it new! Free classified-type newspapers around the country are LOADED with ads for used exercise equipment! I've gotten some great deals by keeping an eye on those classified papers.

    I recommend doing some form of aerobic exercise on a daily basis, preferably first thing in the morning. Forget this "twice a week" stuff! Our bodies were "designed" to be active on a daily basis! When we are, all sorts of wonderful things happen, including the fact that our metabolism soars!

    Although you should try to average about 30 minutes per day, even if you can only do 10 minutes some days, that's a lot better than doing nothing! Get in the habit of exercising every day...just like brushing your teeth. Ideally, your heart rate should be in your "target range" for most of your aerobic exercise session. That can be calculated as follows... (220 - age) x .6 is your lower limit and (220 - age) x .8 is your upper limit. For example, if you're 40 years old, your lower limit would be 108 beats per minute (180 x .6) and your upper limit would be 144 beats per minute (180 x .8).

  2. Anaerobic exercise is the second component of a comprehensive exercise program and refers primarily to resistance exercise like weight training to tone and strengthen your muscles. Weight training is loaded with benefits such as increased metabolism, improved appearance, increased fat burning 24 hours a day, increased sense of well-being and confidence, decreased incidence of osteoporosis, etc.

    Weight training can be done at a health club or less expensively at home. For less than $20 you can usually buy the dumbbells (small weights) needed for an effective home weight training program. You should weight train three days per week and it can be accomplished in 20 to 30 minutes.

My experience over the years is that most people try to "buy" a successful exercise program. They believe that if they "buy" the "latest and greatest" exercise gadget or if they "buy" the magical new supplements that burn five pounds of fat a day, or if they "buy" a health club membership, they can achieve their exercise goals. The fact is that an effective, comprehensive exercise program can be implemented with very little expense! Get started! :)

Be sure to check with your health care professional before making any changes in your activity habits.

True or False

Debt is preventing me from taking a vacation this year or the vacation I'd like to take this year! Tell us: Yes, debt is affecting my vacation plans! or No, we're going exactly where we want to go but we'd love to learn make our trip as inexpensive as possible!

Check out Author and exercise physiologist, Greg Landry, M.S., website at

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