Living Healthy On A Budget: Exercising

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Read the other posts in this series: Living Healthy On A Budget

One of the biggest misconceptions about healthy living is that it can’t be done easily on a budget. I respectfully disagree. Living healthy is possible on any budget!

The first thing we need to do is throw out today’s meaning of the word “healthy”. Rather than buying expensive “health food”, instead we’re going to focus on buying WHOLE foods. We’ll walk outside instead of paying $100 a month to use the elliptical at the gym.

Now, it’s true that buying a box of sugary cereal with a coupon could feed your family for a week at the cost of just a few pennies. Buying a container of oatmeal or a carton of eggs might be pricier when you look at your up front cost. However, which makes you feel fuller for longer? Which gets you through to the next meal without needing another snack? Which keeps you out of the doctor’s office and from paying pricey co-pays and deductibles?

It’s big picture health we’re going to discuss in this series, and we’re going to do it on a budget.

Step 3 of Living Healthy On A Budget: Exercising


                                                          Source: via Heather on Pinterest


We have our pantries fully stocked with good, wholesome foods that we didn’t pay too much for. Our menu is planned out and we’re on our way to a healthy lifestyle. At this point, we’re really only missing one element.

Despite what 24 hour Fitness and World Gym would have you think, you actually don’t have to spend a dime to exercise.

You can exercise for free by walking around your neighborhood and doing body weight strength training exercises. You might not get big like Arnold (who really wants muscles like that anyway?), but you’ll be fit and healthy and that’s what we’re going for!

Now, I struggle with exercise. Like I’ve said in the previous 2 posts, this is all still a work in progress for me. I want to be real clear here that I am NOT a personal trainer.

However, there are plenty of sources to pull frugal exercise tips from, and I’ve done my best to compile them in this post:

Aerobic/cardio & Strength Training for free

  • Walk
  • Run
  • Try the couch to 5k program and learn to run
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Run in Place
  • Dance around to fast paced music
  • Play a game of flag football in the backyard with your kids
  • Play basketball
  • Play anything that gets your heart rate up and your blood pumping!
  • Body Weight Only exercises (these are exercises that use your body weight as resistance instead of actual weights. Think push ups, squats, sit ups etc. Basically the stuff we used to do in gym class growing up!)

For the majority of the above activiites, you don’t really need any special equipment except maybe a good pair of shoes (I love my New Balance sneakers!).

Looking to invest in some equipment?

Photo Credit:’s

You might want to invest in some dumbbells, a resistance band and possibly some exercise DVD’s if you don’t have an internet connection or cable (I’m assuming you DO have internet if you are reading this post though!).

Here are some at home exercise videos/programs that I’ve enjoyed:

  • Walk Away the Pounds
  • The Firm (these can be pricey, but they are well worth it. Check Netflix to see if there are any older versions you can rent. It’s WELL worth the Netflix subscription to change up your at home workout DVD’s on a regular basis. They also have TONS of streaming content as well.)
  • The Biggest Loser workouts
  • Jillian Michaels (especially 30 day shred which you can buy for pretty cheap right now)
  • Netflix (obviously not a workout program on it’s own, but there are a TON of titles available for instant streaming as well as for home delivery.)
  • The Internet! (check YouTube, BodyRockTV and

Here are some spots to find free or cheap exercise equipment:

  • Try Freecycle. It’s hit or miss, but if you do find something…it will be FREE! (likewise, ask friends or family if they have any equipment you can take off their hands!)
  • Craigslist
  • Walmart
  • Amazon
  • Target

We don’t have a gym membership at this time. We might join the local YMCA soon since members get discounts on sports and swim lessons, but for right no, we workout at home.

Our “Home Gym”

Even Skylanders need exercise. Or at least my son thinks so.

We have:

We can set up a whole body workout just using what we have in our own home gym (we have this book that helps us set up our strength training plan. It pinpoints what muscles are worked with each exercise so you can be sure you are working all of your muscles. It also explains how to set up a workout plan. The New Rules of Lifting: Six Basic Moves for Maximum Muscle or the The New Rules of Lifting for Women has a great out of the box plan as well.)! In addition, we also like to use the Kinect for Xbox and the Wii to get up and get moving.

You don’t need any of these things though. Body weight exercises for strength and walking around the block can be a great way to keep fit and healthy.

Room For A Gym Membership In The Budget?

If you do decide to get a gym membership and it fits into your budget nicely, go for it! I recommend joining during a period of time when you don’t have to pay a joining fee and avoid signing contracts! Also, if you have young children, look for one with good affordable (preferably FREE) childcare.

There really is no excuse to not exercise (Note to self: Practice what you preach!) and get moving on a daily basis. It doesn’t have to cost a thing! Invest as much or as little as you want, just be sure you make time for it (and I’m talking to myself too!).

Here are some Key Points:
√ You don’t have to spend money to get fit
√ If you do want to spend money, you don’t need to go to a gym!
√ Cardio can be as simple as walking/running around the block or as complex as buying an exercise bike or treadmill
√ Strength training can be as simple as body weight exercises or as complex as buying weights (dumbbells or barbells)
√ If you decide to join a gym, try to join during a period of no joining fees and avoid contracts!

Have you found some frugal and fun ways to get in some activity throughout the day? Share your ideas in the comments!

Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist and I’m not a size 2 fitness model (far from it!). I’m just a mom, trying to do better for herself and her family. Take my advice from mom to mom or parent to parent, woman to woman or human to human, but not as an expert…because that, I am not.
I’m not perfect. We definitely use convenience foods sometimes and I don’t make everything from scratch. We still go out to eat and I have been known to go over budget. I like Doritos and I can’t pronounce 90% of what is in them. However, my family’s health is a priority to me so I am striving towards at least an 80/20 ratio of good whole foods to easy or yummy packaged maybe-not-perfect foods.
I’m doing it on a budget and it’s working, so I know it can be done.

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Heather is the creator and owner of Family Friendly Frugality. She calls Texas home and is married to her best friend. With 2 children 22 months apart, she has her hands full. So full that she decided to start blogging as a hobby. That hobby blew up into a full time job. Now she's got the husband, the kids and the blog. We're not exactly sure what she was thinking, but she's too busy for us to ask. Find Me On Google +

2 thoughts on “Living Healthy On A Budget: Exercising”

  1. Ok, that “what I feel like, what I look like” picture is hilarious!! Another great article….
    I love the 30 Day Shred. Jillian is annoying, but the results are GREAT. 🙂

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