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Getting In Shape Doesn't Have to Put a Heavy Strain On Your Wallet

Jim Wang

The start of the New Year typically comes with resolutions. Losing weight and working out are often found at the top of people's lists, along with saving money. When we think of working out, we rarely think of working out as a great money saver , but there are ways to reverse that thinking-- especially if you skip the gym.

Working out doesn't have to entail going to a fancy gym and using special equipment. Instead, consider spending time outside or building an inexpensive home gym. Once you get into the habit of working out, you can save money, as well as enjoy the physical benefits of better health. Here are ways to get fit at a healthy price:

Add exercise to your commute. If your work is within biking distance, ride your bike to work. If there is public transportation nearby, take the transit and then walk from the stop to your work. Adding exercise to your commute can save you money on fuel costs, and give you the chance to get in some needed physical activity.

But you don't have to limit your exercise to your commute. If you can run errands on foot or on bike, rather than driving your car, you'll benefit. My son and I often ride our bikes to the park during the summer, rather than driving. I also take the bus to the store if I'm just picking up a few items. The walk to and from the stops is good exercise and helps me save on gas. It can be surprising to add up how much you can save on fuel costs when you use your own energy to get you around.

Use the gym. If you a have a gym, use it! The gym gets crowded around this time but it typically thins out by mid-February. If you don't like running on a treadmill or lifting weights alone, consider taking a class where you can be active with other people. If you don't like classes, look at the machines.

Better health = lower medical costs. Another good reason to work out is to reap the benefits of lower medical costs. While working out might not completely protect you from certain health care costs, it can improve the chances that you will avoid some expensive conditions.

Working out can help you lose weight, which is likely to save you money on food. There are also a number of weight-related conditions that can be quite costly, including:

--Type II diabetes

--Heart disease


--High cholesterol

The medications and other health care services that you might need to pay for as a result of being overweight add up over time. Losing weight and getting in shape can help you manage these conditions and potentially avoid them altogether.

Your health is one of your greatest assets. Working out is part of maintaining your health, and better health is less costly than poor health.

Jim Wang writes about money at Bargaineering.com, a personal finance blog that discusses everything from budgeting to credit to savings accounts.

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