Personal trainers and gym memberships are a luxury, but the monthly fees that help us stay fit and feeling great in our skin aren’t in the budget if you live paycheck to paycheck or need to tighten the budget. Fitness isn’t a luxury, though, and good health and healthy habits can happen in the comfort of your home. And those monthly fitness fees? Scrap them and save the money for the things you really need.
Hiring a personal trainer may help you feel more accountable, keep you on target and help you choose a good routine. However exercises to tone, tighten and amp up your energy levels doesn’t require a pro or a gym. According to Statista, the top two New Year’s resolutions for 2018 involved fitness or health; Americans pledged to abide by a healthier diet and increase their exercise habits. Unfortunately, many New Year’s resolutions are busted after only about a month. An article by U. S. News & World Report states that 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail by February.
If you’re going to make a resolution to stay fit, but you don’t have the money to invest in a trainer or a gym membership, then you need to create a fitness routine at home. More importantly, though, you need a routine that you like, that works for you, and gives you the results you want. So what are the easiest and most cost efficient workout routines? Check out these budget fitness hacks!
Taking Time for a Workout
One of the biggest barriers for those who work long hours is finding the time to work out daily. If you’re working two jobs to stay afloat or if you work overtime for the extra money to make ends meet, scheduling fitness might seem impossible. Time is money, after all.
When you’re crunched for time, there are many ways to keep your body active, moving and healthy. Start new habits that engage your body into motion. If you don’t have time for a formal workout, don’t stress! Instead, focus on changing your habits to increase your activity. Opt for the stairs, not the elevator at work. Park in the farthest spot in the garage or lot so you take more steps to the door (do this everywhere…even at the grocery store). When you are on break at work, walk around the building or stretch at your desk.
You may even decide to wake up a half hour earlier to make time for a workout routine. Or schedule your fitness break during evening hours. There is always some way, however, to move your body. You don’t have to make fitness a formal appointment; start small and begin making healthier changes.
Track Your Fitness
Technology has become such an integral part of daily life, and fitness trackers and smartphones can help guide the journey to healthier habits. Even if your routine isn’t formal, you can still use a fitness tracker or an app on your smartphone to count your steps, monitor your progress, track your heart rate or even remind you to get up and get moving.
So what apps should you use for your fitness journey? That just depends on your own goals. There are apps to track, to guide and to help instruct. If you own a smartphone, explore apps like MyFitnessPal, Yoga for Beginners, Runkeeper, 30 Day Fitness Challenge, and Home Workout. And, of course, be sure to use the built-in health app on your phone (hopefully, your phone has this app!).
If you use a fitness tracker, then you already know this gadget will tell you how many steps you take each day. Aim to take more steps each day and set a step goal for the week! You also may be able to use your tracker to monitor your heartrate.
Cardio at Home
When you have time for a workout, cardio is a great choice! Before you get your heart pumping, make sure to check with your doc if you have any health concerns that might impact your workout or the exercises that are suitable and safe. If you don’t have any limitations, get ready to amp up your energy and burn some calories. Cardio is great for your heart and it is one of the best exercise options for using up calories. Just be careful not to overdo these workouts, as there is always too much of a good thing…even when it comes to fitness!
Jumping rope is one cheap exercise option, because all you need is a jump rope. You can buy a good rope at any retail store. Before you start exercising, make sure you have athletic shoes with a good rubber grip and a decent amount of space. You can jump indoors, but don’t jump on carpet. Hard surfaces are best. According to WebMD, opt for a wood floor or use an athletic mat. The proper size rope also is important. WebMD also notes that the handles should hit your armpits; you don’t want a rope that’s too short or you may find yourself attempting to hurdle over the rope. If the rope is too long, you won’t be able to maintain a proper rhythm or you may trip.
When you’re beginning a jump rope routine, it’s best to start off slow and always warm up and stretch first. Warm ups and stretches help prepare your body and possibly avoid injury. While it might seem easy, jumping rope is intense once you get moving. Don’t overdo your workout. Aim for five minutes the first day (or less, depending on your endurance). Gradually increase your time each day. Listen to your body. If you have pain, then stop.
So how many calories can you burn? According to an article by Shape, you may burn about “10 calories a minute!”
Jump Rope Basics:
- Be sure the rope is the right size.
- Wear proper athletic shoes (don’t jump barefoot!).
- Jump on wood or an athletic mat (not carpet or concrete).
- Remember to stretch and warm up.
- Start slow.
- Stop if you feel pain.
Running & Walking
Running and walking is one of the cheapest workouts. For many beginners, though, hitting the pavement can be a little intimidating. If you aren’t an avid runner, and if you are just beginning to workout, then you don’t want to begin full speed ahead. Running, like all exercises, requires endurance and strength. You’re probably not going to be able to cover five miles on your first day out. And you shouldn’t expect to push your body beyond its limits.
High expectations and pushing our body too fast and too far can leave us frustrated, injured or worse. So, when you’re ready to run, go easy on your joints and your heart. And always stretch and warm up! Beginners may start off walking briskly then jogging. Walking is great exercise, too! And, according to the New York Times article “How to Start Running,” alternating between walking and running is a method used by lots of runners—beginners and those who are more experienced.
Before you run, you need to have proper shoes. Don’t just grab any old sneakers, though. You need proper fit, traction and something that feels good on your foot. The Times reports that comfort is the number one quality to look for in your shoe.
If your goal is to run a race (like a 5K), then you might want to time your miles. But, really, for novices, the focus should be on fitness and feeling good. Don’t stress how long you’re on the pavement or the trails.
- Always stretch and warm up.
- Grab comfortable shoes.
- Start slow.
- Alternate between running and walking.
- Don’t worry about your time (unless it’s a goal!).
Toning & Tightening
Many of us want to tone or tighten or muscles like our bellies or thighs. There are many easy exercises to do at home that will help you shape up your midsection and boost your confidence.
This is an exercise courtesy of Fitness. It works, and you will feel the burn. So how do you do The Cobra? According to Fitness, it’s pretty easy and resembles the popular Yoga position. Check out the site’s step by step directions to do this the right way!
The Plank Tap
Courtesy of Self, the Plank Tap is super easy. Get your body in a plank position and then lift one hand and tap it on the opposite shoulder. The site notes that your feet need to be about “hip distance apart.” And when you’re tapping, don’t move those hips! The site has an animated example (and exact directions) to show just how to do this exercise.
Delete Sit-Ups & Crunches!
Many of us have always used simple sit-ups to tone our core. Sit-ups are a basic exercise and can be done almost anywhere. But, unfortunately, according to an article by Business Insider, these aren’t the exercises you want for a toned belly and push-ups may be a better alternative!
What about your arms and legs? If you want to tone and define those biceps or calves, you might grab a few weights. When integrating weights into your routine, though, you need to start light. Warm up first and stretch muscles to prep them, too.
You can buy small barbells and leg weights at almost any retailer. The price can vary, so opt for something that fits your budget. Of course, you also can get crafty and make your own weights using sand or maybe even rice. You also can fill milk jugs with sand or grains.
When you’re beginning a weight routine, be sure to set a schedule. Don’t try to do your routine every day; give those muscles time to heal. The site Very Well Fit has a great article devoted to building strength for novices.
If you’re a fan of calmer forms of exercise, try a yoga routine. There are many postures that are easy for beginners, and you can even take classes online. Yoga isn’t an expensive investment; just grab a mat and play some soothing music. Classes may even be available for a low-cost at a local YMCA or community center. Before you learn yoga, you’ll need to stretch to prep your muscles. Don’t try anything too advanced and always follow an instructor…even if it’s via a video. If you feel pain, stop!
Try a Toy for Exercise & Hula Hoop
Do you have a hula hoop? Does your child? That hoop can be the source of a fun workout. Moving your hips and muscles gets your body moving. And it’s easy! Play some music and try to keep that hoop moving around your core. Once you get the technique you can try more advanced moves, add weighted hoops for a more intense workout or even use multiple hoops all at once! Plus, these workout tools are typically inexpensive and come in fun colors and designs!
Welcome the beginning of 2019 by establishing a workout goal and beginning your journey to fitness and good health. Don’t worry about personal trainers or a gym; you can exercise at home without busting that budget! Before you begin any workout routine, though, just make sure it’s cleared with your doctor—especially if you have health concerns. Always prepare your body by stretching and warming up to help avoid injury and be good to your body by easing into a routine. Remember, establishing an exercise routine takes time and dedication. So don’t set outrageous goals or expect to push your body too hard too fast. In time, your body will gain strength and endurance and those workouts will become easier and a routine habit. Be good to your body this year and celebrate it by staying healthy and getting fit!