The new year is here and with it those famous resolutions. If your resolution included any kind of a fitness regime, let’s take a look at how you can meet that goal and still save money.
Buying a gym membership is the way that many of us start our fitness goals, but it isn’t always the best way to start. The numbers are not on our side. Eighty percent of people who join a gym in January are not using that membership five months later. A full 67 percent of those who have a membership never use it, according to a survey conducted this year by the Statistic Brain Research Institute. The same survey stated that of the average cost of $58 a month for a membership, $39 of that is wasted because of underuse. Mind boggling, huh?
For those of you who love the gym and work out regularly, good for you. But for the rest of us, how can we get some exercise and stay with it?
Get moving. Walking is completely free and requires little more than a good supportive pair of shoes. Though the weather isn’t always conducive to walking outside this time of year, there are plenty of alternatives. The Big Dipper Ice Arena is a great place to walk and is open every day from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. for walkers. Take a look at where you spend your time and see if there is a place you can walk. I’ve found that I can walk laps in my office — 500 steps each lap. The experts also tell us that you don’t have to walk for long lengths of time, just that you get in lots of steps. So take a break a couple of times during the day and take a walk.
Plug into your computer. Use the internet to look up exercise videos. YouTube offers hundreds of exercise programs or walking programs, most at no cost. Whether your preference is walking, yoga, biking or exercise, you’ll find what you need to get you inspired.
Combine exercise with another activity. Think about taking up dancing, tennis or, when the weather gets better, golf or tennis. The trick is to stay active and have fun. Turn up the music and dance around the house. If you are having fun, you are more likely to keep up the movement.
If you are interested in buying some exercise equipment, consider used gear. Exercise equipment is available on Craigslist, Alaska’s List or on Facebook sites at a fraction of the new price. Just make sure that any equipment works before you buy it. Free weights are also available secondhand.
Biking is great fun, but the weather might keep you in the house. Consider buying a bike stand to convert your outside bike into a stationary bike. It will cost you about $80, which is much less expensive than buying an exercise bike.
If you want to invest in a gym membership, check for special prices this time of year. However, if you invest in the membership, make sure you use it. Take stock at the end of the first month and see how many times you went to the gym. Don’t think in terms of how many times you will go to the gym but rather how many times you did go to the gym.
There’s no doubt that exercise is good for us. Exercising can increase muscle tone and strength, reduce the heart rate, increase energy, fight chronic disease and decrease stress. Let’s all take a step toward better health by increasing our movement.
Roxie Rodgers Dinstel is associate director of the Cooperative Extension Service, a part of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, working in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Questions or column requests can be e-mailed to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (907)474-7201.