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How to Stay Fit on a Budget

Sep 1, 2008
Many Americans are foregoing luxury expenses like high car payments, vacations, and gym memberships in order to combat the struggling economy and rising costs of everyday expenses like food, gasoline, and other essentials. Fast food restaurants are beefing up their value menus in attempts to lure budget-conscious consumers through the door, and people everywhere are feeling the crunch of fewer and fewer resources. But being on a tight budget doesn't mean you have to abandon your fitness regimen, or skip a healthy meal for a cheaper, high calorie alternative. Instead, follow these simple tips to maximize your budget without sacrificing your health, or the health of your family.

Go pedestrian
Recent commuter studies have found that the average car trip covers a distance of less than three miles. Not only is driving such short distances a huge waste of gas and a major problem for the environment, it's just plain lazy. Next time you need to run an errand close by, walk there instead of driving. If it's a bit too far to walk, hop on a bike either option is healthier (and more economical) than relying on your car to get you everywhere you need to go.

Embrace public transportation
If you live in a city that has a decent public transportation system, use it! Odds are you'll have to walk a ways to get to the nearest bus or commuter rail stop, but since walking is one of the healthiest forms of exercise you can find, it's a win-win situation. Not only will you get more activity into your day, you'll save money on gas, and help cut back on pollution.

Avoid over-processed foods
People constantly seem to operate under the misconception that unhealthy foods are cheaper than healthy ones. While this certainly can be true, it doesn't have to be, especially if you practice smart shopping habits. Instead of opting for prepared foods or worse, fast food, stock up on basic staples like chicken breast, rice, and frozen vegetables. Buy chicken breasts in bulk and package them individually, then throw them in the freezer for convenience. The great thing about chicken is, it's healthy, and it can take on almost any flavor, giving you literally hundreds of preparation options. Similarly, rice is inexpensive and extremely versatile, and frozen vegetables are cheap and just plain easy. In the long run, eating smart will keep your family healthier, and shopping smart will keep your budget going strong. Also, always keep an eye out for which fruits and vegetables are on sale!

Get active
One of the leading causes of American's poor health and fitness is a lack of activity. Sitting at a desk all day is not a healthy routine, so do what you can to mix it up as much as possible. Skip a coffee break in favor of a quick, brisk walk outside. Or, make it a point to take a walk as a family in the evening after dinner. It will help promote healthy digestion, and it will give you some quality family time, away from all the distractions you find at home. Another great, inexpensive exercise option is to buy a workout video. They're cheap, and can be very effective (just be sure you pick one that you'll enjoy dance aerobics and belly dancing workouts are fun, effective, and never boring).
About the Author
Ki is a realtor working in the Austin real estate market. His website provides a graphical search of the Austin MLS along with a free mortgage calculator.
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