When you’re on a tight budget, it can be hard to think about staying healthy. It’s no secret that dollar menus are often less expensive than nutritious meals made at home, or that a lot of “self-care” practices have been built around an upscale model with spa massages and costly gym or yoga studio memberships. But “healthy” doesn’t have to be a luxury state, and actually, can be done for free in its most basic forms! Here are some ways you can still focus on your health and living a long and happy life without worrying about a punch to your budget:
- Can’t afford a costly gym membership?
- Instead: embrace your body’s ability to move all on its own! If you are able, take a walk around your neighborhood or a local park. Get moving on your feet each and every day; science shows that just 30 minutes of walking every day can drastically improve your health. You don’t need treadmills and elliptical machines to get your heart moving. Also, take a look at aerobic workouts that don’t require any equipment, instructors, or machines! Pinterest is teeming with short, basic exercises for busy people, and they work well for people on a budget, too. Build muscles through push-ups, sit-ups, burpees, and other exercises that require only your limbs.
- Don’t have extra money for vitamins or supplements?
- Instead: drink a lot of water and get a decent amount of sleep, or at least more quality sleep. So many people are tired and sluggish throughout the day and we hear all about supplements that are supposed to leave you ready to punch holes in walls with sheer force of energy…but they also happen to come at a cost. Drinking 64 ounces of water a day shouldn’t cost you anything at all! When our bodies are hydrated, they perform better: your immune system is stronger, you’ll sleep better at night (especially if you’re getting in that exercise every day!) and you’ll naturally have more energy as a result.
- Yoga studio too expensive?
- Instead: do your breathing and stretching at home. Even if you don’t know how to do yoga, everyone can benefit from basic stretching routines and deep breathing exercises. What is more basic (and free to us) than breathing? Stretching—and aforementioned hydration—will keep your body loose and remove tension that can be harmful to our muscles and our skeletal system. Breathing exercises like these ones improve the flow of oxygen to your muscles and help clear your mind and reduce your stress levels…all of which lead to healthier living. Health isn’t just about your body; it’s about your mental state as well!
- Healthy grocery shopping cutting into your budget?
- Instead: do some reading on low-budget grocery shopping hacks! There are plenty of blogs on the internet about making your grocery list work for your budget and your nutrient intake. Buy produce when it’s in season. Freeze what you don’t eat. Rely on inexpensive whole grains like rice, and use beans and discounted meat cuts as a primary source of protein. It’s easy to think that boxes and packaged foods are less expensive, but the truth is that they also don’t often fill you up. Pro-tip: packaged and frozen foods take up the center of the grocery store, where all the aisles are. The basics you need, like dairy, grains, protein, and produce, are all on the perimeter of the store, with the exception of rice and beans. Stick to the perimeter, and grab those rice and beans by the bag and not by the can!
Staying healthy shouldn’t have to be something you can afford to do. The stress of financial strain, coupled with a lack of healthy habits, can take a real toll on your body. Use these four hacks to improve your mental and physical health and live a longer and more fulfilling life!