Stay Fit - Without Spending a Dime

I am not an exercise junkie. But it bothers me how little physical activity we participate in, in our daily lives. My typical day looks like this: Morning - get up and get dressed, get in the car, drive to work, get in the elevator, get to cube. Evening – leave cube, get in the elevator, get in the car, get home, cook, eat, unwind in front of TV/computer, go to bed. Earlier, I used to have "go to the gym" in my evening routine, but as work increased and I started to get home a little later every day, the gym kinda fell off the list. I am sure many of you can identify with this daily routine. It’s amazing how little physical activity is part of it! So, I made a list of little things that I can do to incorporate exercise in daily activities, and the best part is, it doesn't cost a dime. I hope some of you will be inspired to make some of these a part of your daily activities as well. Not all of them will work for everyone, but try and include as many as possible in your daily routine. They are all free – so what have you got to lose?

Walk/bike to work
You must have heard about the 10,000 steps a day program. Apparently, walking 10,000 steps a day is equivalent to the 30 minutes of exercise that is recommended by the Surgeon General to maintain a healthy lifestyle. While there are arguments and studies both supporting and disproving this, I do believe this is a good way to start. So, if your office is relatively close to home, and you don’t have to go over any highways, why not use the morning commute to get some exercise? Walking or biking is a great way to do this!

Walk/bike to get lunch
Suppose you cannot walk/bike to work. In that case try to fit it into your lunch break. I have to admit this has not been very easy for me, though. Some of the days, I take my lunch with me. On the other days, I go out with colleagues. It is very difficult to convince a bunch of colleagues that it is a good idea to walk to lunch! So, I have found an alternative. Another colleague of mine goes for long walks in the lunch break everyday. Once every week I join him for his walk, and eat my lunch at the desk. Initially, it was a little tiring to get back to work after a one hour walk, but now I have got used to it, and find it quite invigorating.

Park at a farther spot in the parking lot
Earlier, instinctively, I would look for the parking spot closest to the entrance of the office or grocery store. But, when you think of it, it is a cheap inexpensive way to get some more physical activity. These days, I usually park my car farther away and walk the short distance to the destination. It’s not a whole lot, but every little step adds up.

Always take the stairs
While we used to live in apartments, we would always choose an apartment on the third floor. Not only is it less noisy up there and the view is far better, it is also some compulsory exercise each day. When we bought the house, we went for a two-story structure too, so there is always the need to go up and down the stairs. At work though, the elevator is a lot more easily accessible than stairs, so I have to try and remember to take the stairs, and more often than not, I don’t :( I have been trying to compensate by parking my car in higher levels of the garage and sometimes running up/down to the break room on a different floor while getting my daily cup of joe.

Do not pay anyone to do the Gardening/Yardwork
Aah, this one is a classic. Gardening and yard work is a great way to get some exercise. As an added benefit, by not hiring someone you save the money that you would pay them as well. Be it mowing the lawn or pulling out the weeds or trimming the shrubs, they all include some physical exercise. When the weather is good outside, this is a nice way to spend the day outdoors. Not only do you get the exercise, you also get a chance to beam with pride when (if?) someone compliments on how good your yard looks. Add a small vegetable patch and you can have some organic veggies too!

Play with your kids or pets
Have some young kids? Play with them! It’s amazing how much energy young ones have! Not only will this help you bond better, I believe if they are tired they are easier to send to bed, come bedtime. Have older kids? Challenge them for a game of hoops. No kids? Walk your pets. No pets? Maybe your neighbors will loan you theirs :)

Wash car by hand
I don’t do this, but the better half swears by this one. My days are usually very packed. I hardly ever have time to wash my car. If I ever do it, then I usually run through the automatic car was very quickly. But the better half always goes to the manual car wash. And always beams with pride at how clean his car is. Also, I have a neighbor who makes a ritual out of it. Once every couple of months or so, he and his two little daughters wash the car with a hose and sponge, right in the driveway. It looks like so much fun. Maybe when we have kids, we will try that!

Offer to help friends with moving or painting the house or tree trimming etc.
When you hear someone moving, do you pretend you are busy that weekend and hide out in the basement? Well maybe you should offer to help with the move instead. Of course it’s a lot of exercise. But in addition, you will win over your friend, and someday when you have to move, he might help you and you can save some money too. It’s a win-win-win situation. Same goes for helping someone paint the house or trim their tree, etc.

When using cell phone, walk while you talk
I don't remember where I read this, but I remember going "wow!" I normally like pacing while I chat on the phone. I never realized it’s another way to get a little bit of exercise too. Until now, it was an unconscious pacing. Now, I will try to consciously start walking around while I talk!

When your spouse goes to do groceries, join them
This one is a hint to the better half :) He hates grocery shopping and never goes with me. But, when you think of it, grocery shopping is a good work out. Usually, I need stuff from the vegetable aisle, the dairy aisle, the canned goods, the meats etc. So, I really walk for a good 30 minutes while in the grocery store. That’s a good bit of exercise! I used to go shopping at the mall a lot before – which was also quite a good way to get some exercise. Unfortunately though, when shopping at the mall, I end up spending a whole lot more than I need to and have lately curbed that habit.

Do lunges and sit-ups whenever possible
A friend of mine recently had a baby. When the baby cries, my friend and her husband take turns holding her and walking around the house to soothe her. A comment my friend recently made caught my attention. She said that with the new baby she hasn’t had a chance to go to the gym anymore, so while she walks around the house to soothe the baby, she does lunges! The biggest pregnancy-related problem spots my friend has are her thighs, and this is a great inexpensive way for her to get a quick workout. Similarly, you can do sit-ups or lunges while watching TV at home.

When you listen to some good music, dance to it!
I read this in some magazine sometime and really laughed out loud! I would like to see the look on my colleagues faces, if I where to start dancing in the elevator :) So obviously, this one will not work all the time, but if you can incorporate this – say while watching TV, why not? Dancing is a great way to get some exercise.

That’s what I have on my list so far. If you have any hacks that help you get some physical exercise, while doing your everyday work, and it doesn’t need any money to be spent, please do share! I look forward to more suggestions on developing a more active lifestyle, frugally.

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Stephanie @ PoorerThanYou said...

Good tips! Here's one for people who don't have kids of their own: Do what I do, and borrow one! Babysitting my niece for one night feels like a week's worth of exercise ;)

ispf said...

Good one, Stephanie :) I wish I could borrow my neices more often.... they are quite energetic too, and it's so much fun!

Rachel said...

Public television has exercise and yoga shows on very early in the day here, but I set my VCR to tape them and do a professional workout when I'm more awake. I do donate to the local stations though!

ispf said...

Rachel: Thanks for mentioning it - I forgot all about exercising with the TV. While I was in school, my roommate and I sometimes did that. I haven't done it in quite some time though :(

mahe2007 said...

nowadays we are getting lot of online classes for yoga.
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