By Jennifer McGregor
Do you avoid healthy habits because they seem like too much trouble or because they’re too expensive? Actually, living healthy doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or disrupt your busy schedule – self-care can be convenient and cost-effective. Here are a few ideas for working healthy habits into your everyday life seamlessly and affordably:
Exercise at home
If your idea of exercise is a crowded gym and a costly membership, there’s good news. You can get effective exercise at home, work, or while doing simple, everyday chores. Exercising in place costs nothing, takes a little time, and can benefit you substantially. A recent study found that doing a few 30-second sprints (four or five) can provide cardiovascular benefits on par with a 40-to-60-minute workout.
The idea is to get your heart pumping, so try sprinting around the block a few times after work and on the weekends. If the weather doesn’t permit, simply jump in place for four minutes (you’ll definitely feel the burn) in front of the television or before going to bed. If the family dog could use some exercise, take him on a short run or jog after dinner.
Stock up on affordable equipment
A good workout doesn’t require a visit to the gym, because you can set up an effective exercise space at home. And you can do it without investing thousands of dollars in high-tech equipment. Free weights, kettlebells, a smart scale and an activity tracker can help put you on the path to weight loss, improved strength and flexibility, and enhanced mood. When you decide to upgrade your workout space, check out affordable retailers like Best Buy so your home gym doesn’t exceed your budget. Also be sure to research Best Buy coupons, promo codes and sales so you can save even more. Exercising at home will make it easier to stay motivated and stay in shape.
Work out at work
If your busy work schedule keeps you in the office 8 or more hours a day, you’re probably spending a lot of time in a sedentary position, which won’t help your weight loss efforts or benefit your heart. You can exercise in place at the office just as well as you can at home, and you don’t need an in-office treadmill. Try doing some isometric exercises while seated at your desk, do your four-minute jumping routine, or download Break Pal (just $20), which prompts you for a three-minute workout every 30 minutes.
Following a healthy diet doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a delicious meal out now and then without having to spend a lot. There are plenty of good vegetarian restaurants that offer a wide selection of affordable and healthy dishes. If you haven’t tried Mediterranean foods (Greek, Lebanese, Moroccan, etc.), you’re missing out on healthy and delicious eating. It’s affordable, and the benefits of a Mediterranean diet have been scientifically proven.
Studies have shown that socializing with friends can improve brain health and reduce the risk of dementia. Interacting with people who care about you can also strengthen the immune system, alleviate depression, and may even lead to a longer, healthier life. Schedule a weekly get-together over coffee or at the movies or, if you’re looking to reduce expenses, schedule a potluck dinner with everyone bringing a dish. If your friends’ schedules make it difficult to get together, FaceTime and Skype make it easy to stay in face-to-face contact with the people who mean the most to you. Don’t waste time and money on equipment and exercise programs that promise weight loss, muscle gain and a sculpted body. Focus instead on simple and inexpensive practices that produce incremental improvements in your health. That includes exercise, diet, socialization, restful sleep and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.