17 July 2012

Five cheap and easy ways to stay fit

It's only natural for many of us to have the notion that in order to be fit, we must endure miserable, strenuous workouts every day at the gym. The truth is being active should be fun and enjoyable above all else. Nobody should have to run miles and miles every day to achieve or maintain a healthy figure nor should they need to buy expensive gym memberships.

Here are my top five cheapest, most favorite ways to get active and enjoy it, too!

Walking is easy and we do it every day. Why not add a couple more steps a few times a week? Going outside for a morning walk increases alertness, circulation, serotonin levels, and even helps us get some vitamin D in our system (unless the sun is hiding).

Running, on the other hand, is just a step higher than walking, no pun intended. It's a great aerobic workout that strengthens your core and tones almost all of the large muscle groups, especially the legs. Running is definitely more intense than walking but the intensity can easily be tailored to your endurance level. For instance, you don't need to sprint the whole way; a light jog is just fine. I suggest starting with brisk walking for at least a week before getting into running. Always take baby steps when reaching your goals and make sure you wear some light clothing and comfy athletic shoes before you walk or run.

Instead of driving your car, why not try biking? Given the path to your destination is safe and not too far, biking can be a very enjoyable experience. The reason why I bike more than drive is because it's fun, calming, environmentally-friendly, and way cheaper than spending gasoline for the car. Also, it's a great cardiovascular activity and my lower body muscles have gotten stronger than ever.

If you don't already own a bike, consider it an investment. I own a mountain bike with different speeds, which is very helpful for tough uphill biking. Your body and your wallet will notice positive changes!

Jump Rope
Okay, this one isn't really something many of us would do "for fun" but bear with me here; a fast-paced, ten-minute jump rope workout burns more calories than 30 minutes of moderately-paced running. This helps us save tons of time in our ever-so-hectic lives. That alone sounds great, doesn't it? Getting into jump roping is also convenient because you can easily take the rope with you anywhere (no bulky equipment!). Also, the rope itself can be very cheap, starting as low as $10. Jump roping is great for improving balance and coordination, and it also strengthens the heart, core muscles, legs, and chest.

The best pick-me-up for any time of the day for just about any problem out there is yoga. I've been practicing yoga for years and I've reaped so many benefits from it, including increased concentration, flexibility, strength, and I've also managed my stress levels more easily.

If you're a newbie at yoga, it is very important to know that being able to touch your toes or bend into a pretzel is not what it's about! I was not the most flexible person when I started my journey in yoga but my self-esteem increased because the practices teach you that you're perfect no matter what level you're in. Just breathe, let go, and be in the moment.

My personal favorite at-home yoga videos include those from YogaToday, YOGAmazing, (some of these videos from these two sources can be found on YouTube) and, if you own a Nintendo DS system, Let'sYoga! is a great game, especially for beginners. If you want a more extensive at-home yoga program for only $9.95 a month, check out MyYogaOnline.

Yoga mats can be found at just about any department store but make sure to purchase one without harmful chemicals, like PVC. If your home has carpet, you probably don't need a mat but a mat might be desired on a hardwood floor.

Keep Moving!
If just the thought of "working out" intimidates you, make it a pact to move around more than sit around every day. For instance, I do things like hand-wash dirty dishes, search the rooms for donations for the thrift store, sweep/vacuum the floor often, and I also cook a lot! When I do sit, I take it a bit further and sit in a seated yoga pose or any position that challenges my flexibility. There are times where I sit on my exercise ball instead of my desk chair to tone my core muscles. While watching TV, perform a few crunches or stretches. Lunge or jog your way around the house. Do leg squats while brushing your teeth. The list goes on and on! It's very easy to keep yourself active whether you're on your feet or sitting down.

In conclusion, always keep physical activity in your mind and exercise at least four times a week for at least 30 minutes. The feeling of challenging yourself and testing your physical strength will make you stronger; physically, emotionally and mentally.

Joanna Tenderro | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Google+
San Diego, CA Born and raised in San Diego, CA, Joanna has been vegan since mid-2010 and is passionate about nutrition, animal rights, eco-friendly living, and yoga. She's studying to major in the field of nutrition to counsel and educate those around her about living and eating healthy... the vegan way.

Photo credit:cc:commons.wikipedia Gpavic