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Keeping Fit on a Budget

The economy has everyone pinching pennies, and in some cases, that goes double for baby boomers with plans on entering retirement. A 2008 survey from the AARP, an advocacy group for older Americans, reported that one in five middle-aged workers stopped contributing to their retirement plans in the last year, and one in three has considered delaying retirement. With your savings hanging in the balance and an uncertain retirement ahead, your first inclination might be cut back in the extras – including canceling or forgoing renewal on your gym membership. While it’s no question that now is difficult financial time for many people, it’s important to stay healthy and exercise contributes as a relief for stress and anxiety, depression and keeps your joints healthy.

Keeping fit and doesn’t mean you have to have a pricey gym membership, just enough willpower and inclination to use what you have around your house. To keep you healthy without draining your savings, here are some inexpensive alternatives you can resort to at home:

Keep Moving During “Must-See” TV
Sure, you could Tivo through the commercials to get to your favorite shows, or you could make the most of those minutes with a few exercises to get you and your metabolism moving. Cram a few crunches into the minutes behind your favorite show. March in place to keep things moving. With roughly one-third of television time dedicated to advertising, you could burn quite a few calories in a one hour program.

Create Your Own Support Team – Online or Off
Even if your best friend or spouse has a completely different schedule than you, there’s no reason you can’t have a workout buddy. Through the years, I’ve heard some fun ideas from the women who post at www.BoomerWomenSpeak.com. Consider your favorite health-focused websites and look for forums where you can relate to people like you who are working on staying in shape. While it’s nice to have someone to meet in person to keep you more accountable for your daily walks or exercises, having an online support group to trade health tips with can still help keep you on track.

Take the Stairs
It’s a tip you hear all the time in health-related articles, but how often do you consider doing it at home? In fact, maybe you even prolong laundry night because you just don’t feel like going up and down stairs. It may feel silly at first, but if you start out with 10 sets of stairs on your own homestead version of the “StairMaster” and follow it up with five more each day, you’ll start to feel less silly and start to feel the difference. As an added bonus – there’s not need to get dressed up to go to the gym, and you may even get to laundry night more often.

Shape up Instead of Channel Surfing
If you’re still keeping cable, you may as well make the most of it. Many cable companies offer exercise channels and networks like FitTV offer various exercise programs paced for you and fitness needs. Even better, you have the chance to try yoga and other new exercises without having to leave the house.

Re-discover the Benefits of Walking
Although running is an exercise people can do for free, it also creates tougher wear and tear on the joints as we mature. For less wear, and continued benefit, consider walking more often. If you’re starting from scratch and haven’t been exercising at all, begin with short, leisurely walks, and work your way to a three or four miles an hour.

Help Your Garden Grow
Working out doesn’t usually conjure up immediate images of laboring away outside in your garden, but all those hours spent sowing, raking, digging and mowing help the body keep moving and have the added benefit of a beautiful yard or garden space. While you’re outdoors, you’re also soaking up Vitamin D from the sunlight, which contributes to your joint and bone health by helping your body absorb calcium. Lack of calcium can lead to osteoporosis and joint pain, so immerse yourself in the great outdoors and see how it can work for you.

Dotsie Bregel NABBW Founder and CEO
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Expert Columns
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