Like a well-built retirement account, regular exercise is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. But if you’re not careful, your workouts may end up costing you. The average gym membership goes for about $55 a month — or $660 a year — according to Oprah.com. And if you’re going for weeks at a time without hitting the gym, that’s wasted money.
Here are five great, cost-effective ways to get in shape.
1. Find a New Route to Work
Cars and elevators are modern conveniences that we all take for granted. While they may quickly get you from Point A to Point B, they don’t bring too much benefit when it comes to your body. Think about getting your daily exercise by biking or walking to work, Business Insider suggests. You can also burn some calories by taking the stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible.
2. Do It Virtually
If you’re not crazy about the idea of spending money on a gym membership, or if you find yourself traveling too much to make it worth the cost, consider using workout videos in the comfort of your own home (or hotel room). These can easily be found on YouTube or other video sites, and they’re usually free, Money Crashers notes. Also, check your cable listings for exercise programs to record and view at your convenience.
3. Check Your Employer Benefits
If you do want to join a gym, but don’t want to pay the full monthly membership, The Wall Street Journal recommends looking into whether your employer offers fitness discounts or reimbursements. According to U.S. News, more companies are offering such perks to promote their employees’ health — and cut treatment costs down the road.
4. Sliding-Scale Yoga
If a yearlong commitment to a gym membership has you hesitating, consider yoga. It’s common for yoga studios to set aside at least one weekly session that lets aspiring yogis pay what they’d like, says Business Insider.
5. Shop Smart
Getting in shape almost always involves making changes to your diet. Browsing mostly the perimeter of your supermarket — not the center aisles, which are often clogged with junk food — will make it easy to stick to inexpensive and healthful meals, says Business Insider. That’s where you can find fruits, vegetables and frozen items, all of which are better for you and often less expensive than what you’d find in the cookie aisle.
Do you exercise regularly? How do you create a cost-effective workout regime?