Fitness on a budget

Staying fit needn't cost a mint. You can stay on your fitness journey with creativity, a little tweaking and opening yourself to new possibilities.

Wondering how to incorporate exercise when your budget is tighter than those high school jeans that no longer fit you?

No need to worry. You can stay on your fitness journey with creativity, a little tweaking and opening yourself to new possibilities, such as dancing, gardening and walking — all activities that cost little or nothing and yield fitness results.

“Even listening to music with a good beat for 15 minutes can change your state of mind,” says Frank Lipman, an integrative physician, founder of Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York City and author of Spent: End Exhaustion and Feel Great Again.

Besides changing your state of mind, dancing for 30 minutes burns approximately 175 calories. I wonder if my mother knew this. Growing up, she played music while my siblings and I shuffled between dancing, mopping floors and vacuuming. That family memory is still ingrained and today I occasionally listen to music and dance while cleaning. And I’m burning calories. Cost – $0.

Spring is here. What better way to go green and eat healthy than gardening. Since April marks the busiest part of the gardening season, now is the time to commune with nature by planting foods that are great for your body. Plant a vegetable medley; green beans, corn, cucumbers, cabbage, squash and tomatoes. Calories burned: 159. Cost – $10 for seeds.

Mother Nature offers a scenic backdrop to enjoy the outdoors. And it doesn’t cost anything to walk (or run), except a good pair of shoes. Although I work out regularly, I added walking to the mix. My neighbor Victoria and I walk weekday mornings at 6:30 a.m. We enjoy hearing the birds chirp, getting a jump start on our day and the cardio challenge that walking delivers. Not interested in walking outdoors? Visit your local mall. Most of them open early and allow walkers early entry. Calories burned: 152 Cost – $0.

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If none of these suggestions sound appealing, I offer you others:

–Rent exercise videos – excellent way to try yoga, kickboxing, etc., in the privacy of your home. An added bonus – rentals are free with a library card.

–Utilize free gym memberships – most gyms offer free entry to prospective members. Use this as opportunity to visit and see if it is a good fit. If not, visit another facility and ask for a free temporary membership. In addition, the YMCA offers reduced rate memberships.

–Exercise TV – if you have cable, there are a multitude of workouts available on this channel, which I regularly visit.

–Explore your home – your staircase, for example, offers a wonderful cardio workout. Add a few laps while doing laundry, cooking, etc.

Staying on your fitness journey doesn’t have to be a budget-blaster. With a little ingenuity and regularity you’ll see results. Visit this Web site to see how many calories you burn with everyday activities: www.healthstatus.com/calculate/cbc. Then use the money you’ve saved to buy yourself a new pair of jeans…you deserve it!

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Be healthy. Be well.

Sondra E.Z. Hines is an adjunct professor of health and wellness at a community college and is certified to teach group fitness and Zumba. Email: sondraezhines@yahoo.com.

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