How to Get Fit and Healthy on a Budget

It’s a new year. How to get healthy on a budget is on everyone’s mind. Before you join a fancy gym or go for an expensive fad diet, get a little inspiration for your fitness goals for free!


The cool month of January is the hottest time of the year for gym owners and retailers of fad diets. By February, most of the enthusiasm for a fresh new start has worn off. How do you keep the fire for fitness and health while staying on a budget?


Like many people, I used to have an expensive gym membership that I rarely used. Then one day something dreadful happened that changed my view of fitness forever: I was injured with a torn tendon in my foot.


After being in a cast for 3 months and in physical therapy for an additional 6 months, I had lost any level of fitness I once had. The lack of exercise took a major toll on my body. Not to mention, months of physical therapy was very expensive and I needed to find a way to get fit and return to being healthy on a budget. I dropped my gym membership in search of something new and less expensive.


Two years later, I run fifteen to twenty miles a week and am still enthusiastic about staying fit. An added benefit to being fit is that eating healthy on a budget is easy because your taste will change to suit your new lifestyle.


Here’s how I did it. You can too!


Get Healthy on a Budget, Goal 1: Be Honest with Yourself


This one’s simple. There’s no way to get fit without exercise. No fad diet can increase your heart rate or give you muscle tone. Once you accept this, you can start having fun with fitness.


Stay Healthy on a Budget, Goal 2: Make your Goals about Fitness, not Physical Appearance


The most important precursor to getting fit is to set goals. Fitness goals should be realistic; after all you have kids or work, or both to keep you busy. Exercise is about having energy for these things, it shouldn’t take away from these things.




People who make their exercise goals about fitness rather than physical appearance have a greater success rate when it comes to sticking to their routine.


When you exercise for health, the end of the goal is making the rest of your life as pleasurable as possible.  However, when the exercise goal is just about looking better, when the goal is accomplished, many stop exercising and eventually go back to their previous weight or fitness level.


Exercising regularly will make you feel better and losing weight is a natural consequence. These two things will lead to an improved physical appearance.


The difference is that when you exercise for health, you become a life long exerciser.


Goal 3: Learn when to take Baby Steps or Giant Leaps


Read any fitness article, and it’ll say start with baby steps. When it comes to a commitment to exercise, I couldn’t disagree more. Take a giant leap!


This doesn’t mean that you should run five miles, or do twenty laps in the pool your first day out. But, it does mean that no matter how tired you feel at 5:30am or no matter how cold it is outside, you get up and exercise.


Your commitment to yourself has to be rock solid.


The November 2011 issue of Runner’s World magazine, they published that most people who stop running do so within the first 6 weeks of getting started. Make it past this point, and you’ll be hooked.


Baby steps can sometime be too slow and prevent you from developing a routine. So, set your alarm to get started at the same time everyday (exercising or not). Allow your alarm to be the trigger that tells you it’s time to exercise.


Staying Healthy on a Budget, Goal 4: Get Friends and Family Involved


Whether you’re developing a healthy eating plan or starting to exercise, involving others will help you achieve success.


Get involved with a group of men or women that do the same activity or start a group. You can start a healthy cooking potluck dinner in your neighborhood or a biking or running group that meets at the same time each day.


Friends and family will help motivate you, and you will return the favor by motivating others.


Goal 5: Skip Expensive Gym Memberships and Fad Diets


If you want to get healthy on a budget, skip the expensive gym membership and fad diets. Select a sport that’s inexpensive, such as running.


With only a pair of good running shoes, you can lose weight, feel great, and it won’t cost a lot of money.


Can’t run? There are lots of other sports (depending on where you live) that require far less money than a gym membership. Swimming in the ocean, power walking, hiking, and biking are all a fraction of the cost of gym membership, and you’ll enjoy the beautiful outdoors!


Money Saving Tips for Getting Healthy on a Budget


Borrowing sports equipment is a good way to get your feet wet before committing to the expense of a particular sport. For instance, I was happy to learn that a friend would gladly loan me her old racket to try my hand at tennis. If I like tennis, I’ll purchase a racket, but if it’s not something I’ll love, I’m not out the money.


Buy used exercise equipment. January and February are a great time to pick up slightly used exercise equipment. Many people upgrade their equipment in these months and others simply de-clutter in January. If you want to set up a home gym on a shoe-string budget, scour the paper and Craigslist before going to the retail stores.