Let’s face it, joining the gym or local yoga studio or trying that latest dance craze can be expensive. Personally, regular exercise has always provided stress relief, as it can provide a natural high, releasing happy hormones called endorphins, which help minimize stress. However, exercising regularly can sometimes put a dent in our wallets, often causing more unwarranted stress. There are always new fads and trends when it comes to exercise that we may want to try, but how we pay for them often prevents us from trying something new. It doesn’t make sense that getting our recommended thirty minutes of cardiovascular or weight-training exercise three to five times a week should cost so much money.
I have some suggestions and ideas on how we can stay active, have fun, and avoid reaching into our pockets.
1. Go for a Walk
Walking is one the best low-impact workouts. Start or end your day with a thirty to sixty-minute walk. You can boost your metabolism and build strength, endurance, and overall balance while getting a breath of fresh air. Try walking on different surfaces like sand, grass, dirt, or turf to challenge small muscles in your feet and ankles, which improves balance, and to tone your abs and buttock muscles. And, if you have a dog, he will really thank you.
2. Community Yoga
Oftentimes, you can find a local yoga studio or two that offer free community yoga classes at least once a week. Take advantage. Stretch, breathe, and enjoy being a part of your local community.
3. Go to the Library
If you don’t have your library card, then support your local library and get one. The library has so many great resources. Check out their DVD section, and you just might find a new yoga, Pilates, or Zumba workout you have wanted to try. Get the workout you always wanted in the comforts of your own home.
4. TV Aerobics
Don’t be a couch potato. Why not use commercial breaks during your favorite show to break a sweat. Some exercises I find myself doing include jogging in place, crunches, push-ups, jumping jacks, tricep dips, planks, squats, and lunges. Who needs a gym and a bunch of fancy equipment when you can use your own body weight and the floor, a chair, or the coffee table to accomplish the same thing?
I know it’s not everyone’s favorite thing to do, but dusting, vacuuming, mopping, and doing laundry can really break a sweat and burn calories! I know I do. Pushing, pulling, reaching, lifting, squatting, and bending: I call that a full-body workout with the reward of a clean home!
We may not get a recess like we did in elementary school, but who says we can’t play? For those of you who have children, nieces, or nephews, this task may be easy to achieve. Otherwise, go to your local park and throw a Frisbee back and forth or play catch. You may even find a volleyball or basketball court. Get really creative and make up your own games to play at your local park or in your own backyard.
The bottom line is you don’t need a gym or studio to get an effective, inexpensive stress-free workout. Exercise does not have to cost a fortune. Rather, take these opportunities to bond with your partner, children, or pet. Have fun exercising in the comforts of your own home and local community. Better yet, get some fresh air and head to your local mountains, beach, or park. Enjoy Mother Nature at her best while stretching on the beach, hiking in the mountains, or playing beach volleyball.
Erin Carr, PT, DPT, is an integrative physical therapist at The Akasha Center for Integrative Medicine. She works with individuals of all ages and variety of conditions using a multi-faceted treatment approach. She spends time educating her patients on their injury and healing process creating a team approach with the goal of diminishing pain and restoring optimal function.
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*Photo by ceiling.