With the economy ailing, lots of us are looking for ways to save money.
Unfortunately, we may be looking in all the wrong places.
Scrimping and saving by putting off doctor’s visits? Not filling that
prescription because it costs too much? Letting your gym membership lapse? Any
one of those decisions could end up costing you dearly in the long run.
Luckily, there are plenty of cheap and effective ways to stick with a
healthy lifestyle even in the face of an ailing economy.
That’s no excuse for becoming inactive. "You don’t have to go to a gym to
get the wide range of health benefits of exercise," says Steven Blair, PhD,
professor of exercise science at the University of South Carolina.
Fitting in just 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity activities --
walking, gardening, even doing housework -- substantially reduces the risk of
chronic diseases, according to the latest federal physical activity guidelines.
Building and maintaining muscle strength may take a little more ingenuity. One
option: learn a set of basic calisthenics that include push-ups, sit-ups, deep
knee bends, and leg lifts. Another alternative: buy an inexpensive set of
stretch bands, which can be used to do dozens of strength-building
Having trouble stretching your food budget?
A limited food budget is no reason to reach for junk food. "Some of the
healthiest foods out there are actually the least expensive," says Kathy
McManus, PhD, director of inpatient nutrition services at Brigham and Women’s
Hospital in Boston. A few examples:
Beans. They’re a great low-calorie source of fiber and protein. And
they cost pennies a serving, especially if you buy dried beans and soak them
yourself. Add beans to pasta sauce, chili, or soup. Or serve them as a side
dish, seasoned with your favorite spices.
Peanuts. Rich in protein and heart-healthy oils, peanuts are a
relatively inexpensive and filling snack. The lowest priced peanuts are
typically found in the bulk food aisle.
Homemade breakfast cereal. Instead of buying an expensive packaged
cereal, make your own by combining whole oats and other grains, raisins, nuts
and seeds bought in bulk
Make-them-yourself beverages. Save money by skipping expensive
bottled beverages and make your own by brewing up tea for iced tea or adding a
splash of fruit juice to carbonated water.
Frozen vegetables. If fresh vegetables are too expensive, head for
the freezer aisle. “Because vegetables are flash frozen soon after being
harvested, they may contain higher levels of antioxidants than fresh vegetables
that are a day or two old,” says Allyson Mitchell, PhD, a crop scientist at the
University of California at Davis. Another option: raise your own vegetables.
More and more people are gardening, which offers not only a harvest of healthy
foods but also a way to stay fit.
Cooking at home instead of eating out is another way to save money and stay
healthy, especially when you skip processed foods and cook from scratch.
Home-cooked meals tend to be lower in fat and salt than restaurant offerings.
Surveys show that people who eat at home are less likely to be overweight or