Ahhh, exercise. A topic that can generally induces a sense of inferiority, esteem issues and difference of opinion. Or perhaps, you’re extremely organized and have no issue fitting in your 150-200 minutes a week.
A majority of us, tend to go through phases, see-sawing between intense regimented daily exercise, and a barren landscape of it.
It can be so difficult, with the momentum of modern society, to keep up with a strict exercise routine, when oftentimes on busy days, exercise is the first item on the agenda to be slashed.
Even to schedule in just thirty minutes, if those thirty minutes interrupt the solidarity and peace of your morning coffee, a much-needed long lunch break or the time that could be spent chilling out after a long day, the chances are you’re going to skip on it.
I’ve been that person all too many times, and even now, after a year-long journey toward a healthier lifestyle, I still find myself squirming out of heading for a run or a quick trip to the gym.
Especially for those of us on a budget, our time doesn’t always feel our own. Time is money after all, and sometimes taking that well-needed me-time can interfere with potential work or money-making tasks, and whenever we do carve out that so-called ‘self-care’ time, it’s usually spent on drinks in the pub with pals, Netflix binging or having a long, hot bath/shower.
One of the biggest mistakes of the self-care trope is that it’s rarely associated with exercise, one of the biggest self-betterment and cleansing rituals there is.
Exercise is of course linked to longevity and an overall improvement in lifestyle, but it’s also important for mood and focus. As we know, physical activity has an immediate effect on our dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin levels, meaning that it improves attention, decreases symptoms of anxiety and depression, and increases a positive outlook about ourselves and our situation. All extremely necessary for us broke gals!
In other words, there are no two ways about it and thankfully, the stigma around exercise has changed and it has general inclusivity surrounding it, and everyone is encouraged to join in.
My intention is not to shame people into exercise. But it’s impossible to attribute a lack of movement to an inability, or to a trait that allows one to not partake in exercise. Everyone can, and everyone needs to. Regular exercise is like a constant get out jail card – except jail is decreased mental well-being and overall unhealthiness.
It’s never too late to take up exercise, and no one is ever too broke, or too busy to do it. It’s about priority and considering its benefits, and accepting that it should be number one. On that note, here are my recommendations for exercising on a budget.
Of course this is top of the list because, in reality, you can run anywhere. Running ticks all the boxes; it’s good for strength, for cardio, resistance and it has the added benefit of being outside. A good run in the fresh air will generally leave you feeling refreshed, and it’s perfect for those who have anxious tendancies, because you can literally run off the pent up adrenalin that anxiety can create.
The biggest expense of running is trainers, because not any old pair will do. When starting out, it’s okay to work with what you have, but once you’re regularly running, it may be time to invest in a pair of decent clogs, before you get knee splints (like me).
Personally, I splashed out on expensive Asics, but you’ll find that your local Sports shop will have some for a more reasonable price, or better yet, wait for a sale. It’s a big splash of cash but think of the money you’re saving yourself by investing in a good pair.
Any old t-shirt and leggings or shorts will do, and you do not need to invest in a fancy bumbag or jazzy headphones, and I certainly don’t use a gaudy hand-curved water bottle.
The only thing further that I invested in, was an app. Couch to 5K has a free trial, but I bought it (for €5) because I found it instrumental in my training. You can play your music or podcast as normal, but every now and then you’ll hear a woman tell you to *keep going* or *slow down and walk* or *you got this!*, it’s just as annoying as it sounds, but you get used to it.
Yoga is often associated with elegant leggings, expensive package classes and disposable time. Not for me, because I make the most of my time by doing it at home. Sure, my form isn’t always correct, but thanks to the guidance of Youtube superstar, Adriene, yoga is made fun and simple. With hundreds of videos, of all varieties, Yoga with Adriene is for the budgeter, the beginner or the professional. I bought my yoga mat in Decathalon for €5, and I’ve been happily following my yoga career on youtube since then.
If you can find a cheap class that works for you then great, but consider just attending once or twice a month to save money and still ensure you’re learning correctly.
Every thought of buying a kettlebell in Lidl? Well, it’s been done, there and everywhere (you can get them in your local sports shop, or on Amazon). Instead of forking out a monthly meaty amount to your local gym, a sort of guilt-tax placed upon yourself, then why not just invest in one or two weights, and plan you’re working out at home?
Sure, weighted machines are practical and useful, but so are free weights, as long as your form is correct. There are ample sources online and videos showing us which exercises to do and how, so don’t feel like the only place you can embrace your inner Schwarzenegger is at the gym, because with a little money and some research, you can do that from your comfortable abode.
High-Intensity Interval training can be done in many more places than the gym, and in many ways. Take your stairs, for example, you could practice HIIT by running up and down those bad boys, slowly and then quickly. Or perhaps your local park has a few benches worth jumping on. Maybe even, it has some bars that you could attempt pull-ups on. HIIT can be creatively put together anywhere, and as Jeremy on Peep Show said, “I don’t need to pay money to join a gym. The world is my gym. The hills, the trees, the rivers – they are my gym”. Perhaps he’s on to something.
The point is, exercise is vital and anyone can do it, anywhere. It shouldn’t depend on financial means, and you can decipher that. Get creative, get knowledgeable, and figure out what, when and where works for you.
For ideas and inspiration, follow people on Instagram (not if it affects your mood and leads to unhealthy comparison) such as The Body Coach, The Happy Pear, The Rock, Women’s Health/ Mens Health UK, Kayla Itsines, and the thousands of other – whatever benefits you.
But first, you have to try.