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Americans like to invest in improving their health, whether it’s a weight loss program, fitness club membership, or daily diet soft drink. According to Marketdata Enterprises, Inc., we spent $60.5 billion dollars in 2013 on weight loss and fitness.

The question is whether our investments are effective?

The majority of us don’t need to spend a lot of money to improve our health.

No, says the Presidents Council on Fitness Sports and Nutrition. A recent report says that more than 80% of adults do not meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities, and more than 80% of adolescents do not do enough aerobic physical activity to meet the guidelines for youth. The guidelines most often referenced come from a joint statement from the American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine.

If we’re spending so much money, why are our success rates so low? The answer is not simple because when it comes to health and fitness needs, every individual is different. And often the larger your medical concerns, the higher the chance you need assistance from a personal trainer or specialized equipment.

The majority of us don’t need to spend a lot of money to improve our health. There are a few simple steps each of us can take to improve our fitness and health without breaking our bank in the process.

Get in the Right Mindset and Get Moving!

It’s not about the equipment as much as your mindset. So the first step, no matter what equipment you have or don’t have, is to convince yourself that you really want to make a change and then get moving. If you’re not moving, you won’t see results. Think of all the people you know who have exercise equipment in their house and use it as clothes rack or keep it tucked away in a basement. Even if you start by taking a five-minute walk a few times a day, you’re off to a great start.

During these dark days of fall and winter, cold weather and less light can deter you from getting outside. But it’s important to stay focused on your goals. Find a mall or grocery store to walk in if it’s dark out and wear some extra layers to stay warm. Move more than you are used to, and in a few weeks you will begin to feel the difference. If you don’t have someone to go with, ask around and then start a walking group of close friends that support one another.

Keep It Simple

Fancy clothes and equipment are not necessary to become healthy and fit. Before you invest money into new technology or equipment for fitness, focus on consistent dedication to your routine whether it is walking, jogging, or a home workout in which you use your own body as a weight. (See Ornish Living article, Why Plank Pose Beats Sit-Ups for A Strong Core) for a few months. Once you start seeing progress, then reward yourself with a fun gadget, piece of home equipment, or gym membership that might help you achieve further results.

Invest in a Good Pair of Shoes

The majority of people who want to start exercising don’t have a good pair of exercise shoes. This is vital since our feet take a large amount of pounding when we walk or do many other exercises. If our feet become sore, or our legs, hips, and back start to ache, it could be from old, worn, or poorly fitting shoes. This is certainly one area to invest especially if walking is going to be your go-to exercise.

Don’t Spend Money on Dumbbells for Your Home

Too often dumbbells end up in the garbage or tucked in a corner of the basement taking up space. Don’t buy them unless you’ve become stronger and want to gain more muscle mass and strength. Before that, search out household items to use as resistance. These can include soup cans, gallon milk jugs, five gallon buckets of water, and even laundry baskets that can be adjusted to many different weights.

If you’re looking to start an exercise program high priced equipment, fancy exercise clothes and new technology are truly “optional” accessories. The most important item you will need – and you already have it – is a dedicated mind and consistent effort. Best of all – these come free!

How have you kept the cost of your exercise program low and still found health and fitness?

Contributed by

Phil Hardesty
Exercise Physiologist

Have a healthy, happy and fit week!!

Better Health Begins With You...

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