Are you in the shape that you want to be in? If you’re like me, expensive gym memberships and classes are out of the question. But that doesn’t mean you have to skip fitness altogether. Frugal fitness starts with walking.
Walking is the perfect exercise for nearly everyone and it doesn’t cost a dime. Put on whatever shoes you have and go outside to let Mother Nature be your gym. Good health saves you money!
Just Walk for Frugal Fitness
Of course, there are many components to fitness, but the best place to start is to lace up your sneakers and walk.
(This is where I tell you, as I am legally bound to do, that you should seek the advice of your physician before starting this or any other exercise program.)
When people start a walking program, they tend to make one of two mistakes.
- They push themselves way too hard and end up getting so sore on the very first day that they are virtually crippled from Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.
- They don’t push themselves hard enough and stop the second they begin to feel out of breath.
Your starting point depends on your current fitness level, of course, but that can be hard to judge if you have been moving from sitting on your rear at your desk at the office over to sit on your rear on the sofa at your house. So, I generally recommend that you start with 30 minutes.
Some Tips If You’re Sedentary
If you are truly sedentary, don’t kill yourself by trying to set a rapid pace for your 30-minute walk. You should walk at a very comfortable pace for at least 5 minutes to warm up your body. Then, speed up to the point that speaking is possible but not super-easy. Your heart rate should be elevated enough that your speech is limited to short bursts of words, not Shakespearean monologues. If you get to the point that you can only gasp out a word at a time, you are pushing yourself too hard, and you need to slow down.
If you need to slow down, that doesn’t mean stop. Keep going, just at a slower, easier pace. This is you, building your endurance. Unless you are having the symptoms of an actual heart attack (extreme shortness of breath, faintness, dizziness, pain down one arm, etc.) keep moving at a slow pace as you catch your breath.
About 5 minutes before your walk is over, drop back your pace a little to cool down.
As you become more fit, you can make things more difficult. You can add hills, obstacles, increase your speed, carry a loaded pack, or walk for longer to add to the challenge.
Some things that help:
- A dog. My dog would walk FOR-E-VER! Walking a dog is a great way to keep motivated and will result in not only a healthier you, but a healthier and better-behaved pet too.
- A buddy. A walking buddy will help you maintain a pace. As well, we don’t want to let down a friend and this means we’re much less likely to cancel our walk.
- Tunes. My iPod full of headbanging rock is my favorite piece of workout equipment. I opt for music with a beat that mimics the pace I want to keep. I like energetic, heavy-driving music to keep me motivated. Make a playlist of whatever inspires you to move quickly. Sometimes I’ll walk a little further just because there is a really great song on. I save the iPod for walks, making it a special treat.
Safety note: I recommend only using one headphone. Whether you are in the city or out in the woods, wearing two headphones and making yourself deaf is the equivalent of wearing a “Prey” T-shirt. It’s important to always be aware of your surroundings.
And a word about excuses. Okay, a few words, because there are oh-so-many excuses.
Don’t worry about inclement weather. Unless I am going to be struck by lightning or die of hypothermia because I’ve gotten soaked in sub-zero temperatures, I walk. There are many days that I look out the window at the gray skies and think, oh, man, I don’t want to walk today! But I do it anyway. Why?
Because, you are training for life. You are training for events that happen at the most inopportune times. Rarely does a disaster conveniently time itself on a sunny day of moderate temperatures. Nope, if you have to hike away from a car accident, it likely happened because of ice or rain on the roads. You will be hiking away from it through the pouring rain. If a crime has been perpetrated on you, and you must flee, are you going to take your chance when it presents itself, or will you say, “Yeah, it’s raining, dude. I’m just gonna hang out with this serial killer until it clears up.”
You aren’t made of sugar. You aren’t going to melt. Just walk.
And yes, you do have time. Unless you are moving from the moment you get up in the morning until the moment you go to bed, you can find 30 minutes to go for a walk. Trust me, after you get used to it, your body will crave it and you’ll feel so much better! If you really truly are that busy, break your walk up into two 15-minute walks, or even 3 ten-minute walks. There really are very few days that you can’t take 30 minutes from your day to do something wonderful and potentially life-saving.
You’re sick? Are you really, truly sick? If you are, you’re right. You should stay home, tucked under the covers. But if you have a bit of a headache, low energy, some female problems, or just general lethargy, exercise and fresh air may surprise you by making you feel better. Exercise is nature’s anti-depressant and sometimes those minor aches and pains are related to mood more than they are actual physical maladies.
Start Off Easy
You don’t have to start with a Marine Corp Mud Run. You see all those big buff dudes running down the road in fatigues, carrying an 80 lb. pack? Let ’em run! You, my friend, are just going to walk today. You are going to get started and you are going to find your own path to fitness.
This isn’t about comparing yourself to those who are more fit or more strong than you. Everyone is not capable of doing what an Ironman Triathlete does but just about everyone is capable of more than they are doing right now. Challenge yourself! It’s amazing what you can do once you’ve built a base of fitness.
Get Started with Frugal Fitness
Today. Right now. If it’s the middle of the night when you’re reading this, then you can wait until tomorrow. But remember that the sooner you start, the sooner you will be fit.
Getting into better shape is something you will never regret.
Even if you never need to be more fit because of a survival situation, you still get all the health and well-being benefits from doing it. Your body and those who love you will thank you!
“I got fit and I never even had to escape from a deranged stalker! What a waste of time!” said no one, ever.
Just lace up those shoes, get out there, and walk and within a month, you will see that your 30-minute walk takes you a lot further than it did when you began.