Get in shape with these budget-friendly tips.
Fitness isn’t just great for your health — it can also improve your overall frame of mind.
In fact, just 15 minutes of daily cardio can be as effective as an antidepressant, according to psychologist and best-selling author Shawn Achor. Furthermore, the Public Health Agency of Canada reports that, through regular exercise, adults ages 18 to 64 can reduce the risk of 25 chronic conditions (including heart disease and type 2 diabetes).
What better reason to lace up those runners? To make things even easier, you don’t need a big-ticket gym membership or the latest equipment to make a difference. A few small changes in your daily routine can make a big difference. Here are six easy — and budget-friendly — ways to start fitting exercise into your daily life:
- Work out a deal: While the average gym membership costs $58 per month (or $696 per year), some gyms are beginning to offer low-cost alternatives. Fit 4 Less®*, a relatively new spin-off of GoodLife Fitness®*, offers monthly memberships under $10. You may also be able to apply for financial assistance (for example, a reduced monthly rate) at your local YMCA. And of course, always keep your eyes open for free trials, family deals, and introductory rates at your local gym or yoga studio.
- Multi-task while watching TV: Did you know the average Canadian spends a whopping 30 hours per week watching TV (online and conventional)? The next time you queue up your favourite show, grab a couple of free weights (or soup cans, if you don’t want to invest in weights) and get to work. Complete a few reps of these four moves, and work your way up to adding lunges, leg lifts, and crunches too. The more you practice, the easier it will be.
- Download free apps: Use technology to your advantage and keep fun workouts at your fingertips. If you’ve always wanted to become a runner but just can’t get out the door, try NHS Couch to 5k. If you can squeeze in only a few minutes at a time, download The 7 Minute Workout. And if you like a little friendly competition, challenge your friends (and track your progress) with MapMyRun®‡ or Strava®**.
- Energize your workday: Try cutting back on driving whenever possible. In the warmer months, consider walking to work at least once a week (and if you must drive, park a block away!). During the day, you can go for a walk on your lunch break, turn a daily status update into a stroll outdoors, or kick-start afternoon stretches with coworkers. For the latter, spend 10 minutes doing some simple stretches or helpful yoga hacks. And be sure to see if your employer offers any health and wellness benefits ― such as a discounted gym membership ― to help motivate you even more.
- Stretch your social network: It’s often easier to work out with a friend, so invite a few along for the ride. On weekends, try organizing a long bike ride and healthy picnic lunch. Or, track down the best trails in your area and hit up a new one each week (for big inspiration, look to these Top 10 Greatest Hikes in Canada). Want to add a few new friends to your circle? Think about joining a running group, such as the Run Club. If there’s not a group in your neighbourhood, why not bring people together and start one of your own?
- Get outside with the family: Did you know that only nine per cent of Canadian kids “get enough heart-pumping physical activity”?. Instead of staying in, take your kids (or nieces, nephews, and cousins) to the park to play sports, tag, or catch. Doing so will encourage the little ones to make physical activity part of their routine, while giving you a chance to work up a sweat too. Also, consider joining your local community centre, which may offer free drop-in activities, such as soccer, basketball, and even ping pong. Want to enrol your child in a registered program? You can claim up to $1,000 per child per year with the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit.
®*Registered trademark of Patchell Holdings Inc.
®‡ Registered trademark of MapMyFitness, Inc.
®** Registered trademark of Strava, Inc.