Is a healthy lifestyle expensive?
Because we live in a world where tasty, tempting foods high in calories, fat, salt and sugar are abundant and cheap while a physically active lifestyle seems out of reach for those unable to afford an expensive fitness club membership or home exercise equipment, many people think it is.
But as I tell my patients, you can follow some sound strategies to help you eat more healthfully and exercise regularly – all in a cost-effective manner.
I hope you find these tips helpful.
1-Become a Savvy Shopper
Whether you’re buying groceries online or in person, let the sales steer your purchases – especially in the fresh produce aisles. This is where you’ll get the most nutrition bang for your buck. Being flexible in the kind of apples, berries, salad greens or vegetables you pick for the week will help you save money by purchasing what’s on sale.
Another economical option is to buy bags of frozen vegetables and fruits in bulk at big box stores which can lessen waste of produce going bad before you eat it and ensure these good-for-you foods are always readily available.
You can also stock up on frozen fish and seafood when on sale and on other lean proteins like chicken, ground turkey, eggs, nuts, nut butters or tofu.
Higher fiber items like oatmeal, cereals, canned beans and bean soups add another nutrition punch as the fiber in these foods help fill you up.
If a favorite whole grain product goes on sale, this is the time to stock up on bread, pizza crust, quinoa or brown rice.
You can also check in your area to see if lower cost produce boxes, like ones from Imperfect Foods, are available.
Healthier meal planning doesn’t have to break the bank.
2-Find the Fitness Freebies
Our smart phones and computers make searching for free fitness apps or online programs easier than ever.
If more exercise is on your to-do list, you can search online for ‘free trials fitness’ to learn about endless virtual exercise options.
I recently started my 2-month free trial for virtual Peloton classes (no bike required!) and am enjoying strength training, stretching and yoga classes. But there are also aerobics, Pilates, dance, and more. Another nice feature is that you can do very short or longer classes depending on your interests.
More freebies are also available on YouTube.
Walking is probably the lowest cost exercise of all; you just need gym shoes to snack your exercise throughout the day at home or find a safe place to walk outside.
If you have a dog at home, know that dogs can be your exercise machine on a leash, encouraging you to walk more often and longer as well as stay active running and playing fetch with your 4-legged friend.
3-Small Cost, Big Benefit
Some key low-cost items can support healthier lifestyle habits like resistance bands, hand weights, a stability ball, jump rope and yoga or exercise mat.
A water bottle can also remind you to stay hydrated throughout the day.
If you have a neighborhood website like Nextdoor, you can also be on alert for neighbors who are giving away used exercise equipment like a bike or treadmill, or selling at a low cost.
You can think of the money you put toward improving your eating and exercise habits as an investment in your health.
Here’s to a healthier 2021 and beyond!
Robert Kushner, MD