If you’ve never been that fitness-focused, struggling to find the motivation to exercise or watch your diet, you’re probably wondering how to get started in your 50s. The good news is that it’s never too late to get fit and it doesn’t need to cost the earth to do it.
Staying healthy on a budget is not only totally doable and rather simple, but it can also help us manage menopause symptoms, as well as prevent or delay age-related diseases, reduce stress and, of course, lose weight. With a bit of preparation and planning, you can set your fitness goals, and implement some healthy strategies.
Here is how you can ace the game of health on fitness (while you stick to your saving goals, too) even if you don’t have a personal trainer or a nutritionist working with you.
Drink lots of water
If health experts always recommend drinking plenty of water, there would be a reason. From protecting organs and aiding digestion to giving you healthier skin, this habit can make a big difference to your health. The other excellent health benefit of drinking more water is that it will often reduce your appetite, so you will consume fewer calories and spend less money on food.
If sticking to this healthy routine can seem a bit boring and repetitive for you, you can easily add a little bit of excitement and flavour to your water by steeping fresh fruit (grapefruit, strawberries, lemon), veggie slices (cucumber, ginger, celery), and herbs (basil, mint, lavender) in your pitcher or opt for herbal teas.
Stop buying pre-packaged food
Don’t get tricked by those buzzing words like “keto-friendly” or “gluten-free“: processed, pre-packaged foods aren’t good for you as they are high in sodium and added sugar. As well as being unhealthy, these types of foods often cost a lot more than making your own meals. Therefore, it would be best if you were aiming to buy more nutrient-rich foods to stick to your grocery list when you’re shopping to avoid extra expenses and cook at home.
If you want to stay on a budget, try increasing your use of eggs, beans, seeds, frozen fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. Incorporating more inexpensive yet nutrient-rich foods into your daily routine will help you save money and eat well.
To avoid paying gym fees or paying for expensive gym equipment, taking up a free form of exercise like running, hiking or walking offers a great way to stay fit on a budget.
Research shows that just by walking regularly you can cut your rate of physical decline by 50%. Experts recommend thirty minutes of moderate exercise five times a week. You can do this all at once, or you could split it up throughout the day, the choice is yours. In this way, as well as not costing you to exercise, you get the benefit of exercising outdoors, which has several additional health benefits. For example, it relieves stress and boosts your mental health.
And if you get bored with running or walking, you can use par course types of equipment to enhance your exercise routine. These fitness trails are designed to enable you to take your fitness routine from inside the gym to out in the park and often include strength training, plyometric and stretching stations. The equipment typically uses your own body weight for resistance, so you don’t have to worry about adding or removing weight. All you have to do is follow the trail and stop at each exercise station, performing the exercise in the way that it’s described on the instruction panel.
Try fitness apps or free videos
Home workouts have some great benefits over going to the gym. You don’t need to spend time travelling to the gym, and you’ll save money that you would have spent on a gym membership. If you don’t have a chance to exercise outdoors, there are plenty of free fitness apps and online videos on YouTube for you to consider. You can test them out to see what works best for your current lifestyle, workout preferences and athletic abilities. In this case, all you need is a mat and resistance bands.
Get enough sleep
A good night’s sleep helps improve concentration and memory formation, allows your body to repair any cell damage that occurred during the day, and refreshes your immune system, which in turn helps to prevent disease.
According to experts of The Sleep Foundation, without enough sleep, people tend to overeat and choose unhealthy foods. “Sleep deprivation affects the body’s release of ghrelin and leptin, two hormones that tell our brain when to consume calories“, they explain. So, people who are sleep deprived are more drawn toward high-calorie foods. Also, chronic sleep loss has been linked to having a larger waist circumference, and an increased risk of obesity.
The best way to improve your sleep routine is to go to bed and get up at the same time every day, including at weekends. Being consistent reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle.
If you don’t fall asleep within about 20 minutes of going to bed, leave your bedroom and do something relaxing. Read or listen to soothing music. Go back to bed when you’re tired. Repeat as needed, but continue to maintain your sleep schedule and wake-up time.