Low-cost workout essentials

People are often under the assumption that working out is expensive—but that doesn’t have to be the case.  There are plenty of ways to exercise without breaking the bank.  Read on to learn about low-cost workout essentials, and where to find low-cost workout gear that will have you sweating in no time!

Stretching

Not only does stretching help manage stress, but it can also increase your range of motion and balance, reduce your risk of injury, and increase the benefits of cardio and strength training. Even better, no special equipment is needed for stretching, and you can do it almost anywhere, at any time.

These tips can help you add stretching to your daily routine:

• Create a stretching routine and stick to it! Make sure your routine includes 2-3 stretches for each muscle group, including back and shoulders, head and neck, arms, legs and feet.

• Stretch most days of the week, hold stretches for 15-30 seconds, and remember not to bounce!

• Stretch before and after your workouts. If you are pressed for time, try to fit in a few stretches after your workouts to prevent muscle soreness.

• Stretching should not be painful. Scale back, or try alternative stretches, if you notice pain associated with certain movements.

• For a low-cost way to learn more about stretching, download a free stretching app, buy a yoga or stretching book from a used bookstore, or check out this free online resource: http://www.acefitness.org/acefit/fitness_programs_exercise_library_results.aspx?search=stretch

 

Cardio
Treadmills, elliptical machines, stair masters, stationary bikes…  While these are great machines to use if you happen to have access to them, they’re not a necessity. If you want to build up stamina and get a good cardio workout, try these less expensive alternatives:

Jump Rope. Whether you call it skipping rope or jumping rope, the name says it all.  Jump ropes are a great way to get your heart rate up while also improving your agility. Jump ropes can be purchased for as low as just a couple dollars at mass market retailers or even the dollar store.

Stairs. Incorporating stairs into your exercise will strengthen almost every muscle group in your lower body, from your hips to your feet. Running up and down flights of stairs or even just walking up and down a staircase is a great way to tone your glutes, calves and thighs.

Walking. The National Center for Biotechnology Information recommends the average adult walks up to 10,000 steps per day. This number may seem high if you don’t exercise much now, but setting short-term goals to eventually work your way up to this number–maybe starting at 3,000 steps and incrementing this number by 500 a day/week–will give you a feeling of accomplishment and can keep you motivated with sticking to your workout routine. The best part about walking is you can do it anywhere! Walk around the mall, take your dog on an extra walk each day, or take a stroll through your local park.

Weight Training

Dumbbells. Dumbbells are great for building muscle in your arms, chest, back and wrists. Dumbbells can provide a more comfortable range of motion for many individuals than fixed position weight machines. Dumbbells are relatively inexpensive, but if you want to get them even cheaper, search the web for places selling new and used dumbbells at a discount. And if you want to use weights but don’t feel like purchasing dumbbells, get creative—cans of soup or jugs of water can serve as weights in a pinch!

Resistance Bands. Resistance bands are used similarly to dumbbells, but are even cheaper and lighter! Again, search online; you can find discounted new and used resistance bands on many sites.

Exercise Balls. These are great for constructing a solid core (the muscle groups in charge of bending, breathing, getting up and sitting down). Exercise balls engage your abdominals, hips and lower back and there are many different types of exercises you can do with them. A quick Google search will show you many sites to find exercise balls for a reduced price. Your local discount store may also have them in stock. Check out this link for specific exercises that can be done using the exercise ball: http://www.acefitness.org/acefit/fitness_programs_core_workout.aspx?workoutid=6

Body Weight Training. Body weight training has recently become one of the most popular ways to workout. You may have heard of programs like Insanity, P90X, 10 Minute Trainer–these workout programs use a combination of circuit training, or a high number of exercises for short periods, using only your body weight (or resistance bands) to shed weight and tighten up your body. These DVD workouts often retail for around $100-$120, but you can find previously owned copies online for a reduced price.

 

Workout Gear

Sometimes it’s necessary to get new workout essentials like sneakers, appropriate clothing, a new water bottle, and sunglasses. You don’t have to spend top dollar on these things, but being comfortable while you’re working out is important. Check online or your local paper to see if any retailers have coupons, sales or are selling any of these items at discounted prices.

Looking for more helpful tips on how to save money while getting healthy?  Check out the Healthcare Survival Guide!

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