Money-Smart Tips to Get in Shape without Going Broke

By Jackie Waters, Founder of

Some investments are all about money; stocks, bonds, and retirement accounts come to mind. Others are more about time and self-discipline. Exercise falls into this latter category, and with good reason, according to US News. The following are just some of the benefits of regular physical activity:

  • Reduced risk of chronic and potentially life-threatening conditions like type 2 diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
  • Increased happiness and self-esteem. Exercise releases endorphins into the bloodstream, which can boost your mood and counter depression. Plus, getting in shape will help you to feel better about yourself.
  • More brainpower. Exercise boosts learning, memory, and judgment skills, helping you to keep your edge as you age.
  • Better physical relations. Studies show that staying active can enhance the intimate aspect of your life, whether you’re a man or woman.

The advantages of exercise multiply when combined with sensible nutrition, according to Healthline. We’re not talking about following the latest fad diet. We’re referring to making wise eating choices, like staying away from sugar and saturated fat while eating more lean protein and complex carbs.

Break the Shame-Fear-Avoidance Cycle

With all of these advantages, why do most Americans avoid exercise like the proverbial plague? While the reasons are many, part of the problem goes back to the old “chicken and egg” dilemma. Some people want to exercise because they dislike the way they look, but their unease with their appearance prevents them from going to the gym, especially if they fear ridicule. This creates a vicious cycle of shame-fear-avoidance that can prevent a person from taking the essential steps needed to improve his or her life.

Does this sound like you? If so, then one way to deal with the problem is to exercise at home. This option offers a bonanza of benefits, including:

  • Freedom from monthly membership fees.
  • The ability to exercise whenever you like.
  • Avoiding a traffic-laden commute to and from the fitness club.
  • No worries about others judging you based on your current fitness level.

Start Small and Basic!

If a home-based exercise program sounds like what you need, then here are some ways to make the effort a success:

  • Start small. There’s nothing like the classic pushup to get you on the road to better fitness. You can start with modified versions to match your current abilities and move on to one-armed, elevated, and other advanced techniques over time. Best of all, there’s no equipment to buy, although people with wrist or back issues might benefit from using a set of pushup bars, which cost as little as $10.00.
  • Add equipment only as your budget allows. We all know the old story of the eager fitness buff who buys a fitness machine based on an infomercial, only to use it as a coat rack as his or her enthusiasm cools. We’re not saying this will happen to you. But we are saying you should make budget-smart choices based on realistic expectations and objective product reviews, not marketing hype.
  • Remember the three foundations of better fitness: flexibility, strength, and aerobic endurance. Pattern your workouts to improve each of these qualities. Having biceps the size of boulders will do you little good if you’re out of breath after climbing a few steps. In the same way, running 10 miles without breaking a sweat offers limited value if you’re too stiff to get out of bed. Focus on general well-being, especially at first. Later on, you can customize your exercises to achieve a targeted goal.

Whether you join a gym or start at home, the secret to getting in better shape is to follow the advice of the old Nike ads and just do it. Best of luck, and enjoy the journey ahead.

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Latest update: December 15, 2017
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