In a time of expensive memberships to fancy gyms, pricey dieting programs, personal trainers and training regimens, people may be put off of a healthy lifestyle due to the perceived expenses that one might entail. However this perception is largely down marketing strategies and business tactics, basically people trying to make a living and create a boom in business. Of course, there is a place for these factors, especially for people who need the guidance and are willing to make the investment.
Yet for those looking for a cheaper option and who want to get fit and healthy and stay that way on a budget, there are many methods to do so. In fact, some of the most effective ways to get into shape, boost cardiovascular health and gain strength can be done almost entirely for free be using the running trails in public spaces and one’s own body weight to hone muscles.
Here are a few tips for those looking to save money whilst getting extremely fit, healthy and a boosted sense of well being in the process.
Calisthenics is a discipline, of type of training, that focuses on movements that use body weight as a form of resistance. This can include exercises such as body weight squats, push ups, pull ups, dips, planks and more advanced movements such as one handed push ups, muscles ups and front levers.
The beauty of calisthenics, especially when looking to minimise spending but maximising strength and physique, is exactly the fact that it can be done for free, for the most part. For example exercises such as body weight squats, push ups and planks can be done almost anywhere, whether that means your living room floor, back garden, or out in the hills during a run or a hike.
When it comes to movements such as pull ups, pull ups bars can be purchased for extremely cheap prices and placed in a door frame in your home, allowing for quick and effective work outs and any time during the day. Alternatively, if you are lucky enough to live within close proximity to one, some public spaces such as parks and playgrounds have pull ups bar and parallel bars in place which will allow people to undergo a full calisthenic work out for free.
Below are explanations on how to perform several calisthenic movements to get you started on your journey.
Let’s start with push ups. This simple yet effective exercise can come in many forms and is extremely diverse. We will focus on three different types here to help you target several different muscles groups whilst in the comfort of your own home.
Standard push ups require a basic level or core, arm and shoulder strength to begin with. However as soon as you can complete even one full rep with strict form, all it takes is a bit of hard work and dedication in order to excel further. To enter the start position, come onto your hands and knees with hands just wider than the shoulders.
Next, start to shift weight into your hands and step both feet back so as it push the balls of your feet into the ground, entering a plank position with arms still fully extended. In this position, make sure your core is fully engaged along with your shoulders and glutes, in order to keep a strict form. Now that your are feeling strong in this position, start to flex at the elbows and lower your body toward the ground until your chest is around an inch of the floor.
In this position it is easy to let your core and hips sag, aim to keep your body in a straight line. Now push back up until you reach the same position as before. Complete as many reps as possible.
This apparently simple exercise actually targets a surprising amount of muscles, you can even add a weight vest in order to increase the resistance. Push ups in this form will primarily target the chest, triceps and anterior deltoids (shoulders).
Another variation of this exercise is the diamond push up, this can be achieved by returning the same starting position as before, however this time the hands are placed close together, making a diamond-like shape by touching the thumbs and index fingers of each hand together. During the push up keep the elbow tucked into the body. This exercise can be quite challenging at first but is worth training to really target the triceps.
The last variation we will cover is wide grip push ups. Once again return to the same starting position but this time puts the hands out as wide as possible. This variation will help to target the chest, triceps and anterior deltoid.
Pull ups are another key element of calisthenics. To do a pull up, locate a bar that is high enough for you to hang from with fully extended arms and flex knees without touching the ground. Approach the bar and choose either an underhand or overhand grip that is about shoulder width apart. Now hand with arms fully extended, this is the bottom of a pull ups. Now, engage your core and retract your shoulder slightly, keeping them engaged. In a controlled fashion, pull your chest up as close to the bar as you can, once at the top of the pull up, lower back down in a controlled manner until arms are fully extended. This is a controlled and strict form for a pull up rep.
Pull ups are a challenging exercise, yet worthwhile in obtaining as they target several muscles at a time. Pulls primarily targets the lats, chest, triceps, and several rotator cuff muscles.
Finally, dips are another foundational movement in calisthenics. Use parallel bars that are high enough to allow you to get to the bottom of a rep within your knees touching the ground when flexed. To start, grip the bars with fully extended arms so you are at the top of a rep. Engage the shoulders and core to keep strict form. Lowers the arms to 90 degrees of flexion and then push back up to the starting position to complete a single rep. Dips primarily work the chest and triceps. To target the triceps more, keep your torso more vertical during a rep, to target the chest more lean forward slightly.
With a focus on staying fit on a budget, one of the first methods to spring to mind is definitely walking. What could be cheaper and more satisfying that putting on your trainers and going out for a walk in nature during some nice weather?
When thinking of walking as a means to stay fit, some people may assume because of its gentle nature that walking might not be enough to maintain health, however it does come with many benefits. Unlike running, walking is extremely low impact and therefore is especially useful for those just getting into fitness and are not yet up to the test of running.
Walking serves as a great method of exercise for heart health, lowering levels of LDL cholesterol that are associated with heart attacks when levels are high. Brisk daily walks that last over half an hour are also associated with the prevention and control of high blood pressure that is linked to strokes.
For those looking to lose weight or gain a toned and lean physique, walking can be of assistance. Walking at a mere 2 mile per hour for a period of 20 minutes can burn around 75 calories. This might not sound like much, but when done consistently and in partnership with a healthy diet, people can definitely expect to see results.
Walking uses lots of lower body muscles and can therefore be used to gently tone and shape them. For those looking for more of a challenge and therefore better results, head to the hills where the steep inclines are to give your quad, hamstrings, glutes and calf muscles a better work out.
If you are lucky enough to go out walking on a nice day, even the sun exposure can and will contribute to your health. A small amount of time exposing a large surface area of your skin to the UVB rays of the sun will allow your body to synthesise vitamin D which plays many crucial roles in the body including maintaining bone health and functions of the immune system.
Intermittent fasting has been closely monitored by science and same amazing results have been confirmed. Although to some people the idea of not eating during long periods of the day might seem extremely unappealing, getting through the first phase is well worth it to boost positive hormones, burn fat and obtain mental clarity and focus.
There are several different types of intermittent fasting, but the principle is largely the same. Intermittent fasting involves only eating food during a certain window of the day, for example a popular method involves eating for an 8 hour windows and fasting for the other 16 hours of the day. This could look like eating from noon until 8pm and then beginning the fasting window. Just because a person might fast for most of the day doesn’t mean they have to starve themselves, they can still consume the same amount of calories, or even more, during the eating window.
So why would somebody want to live this way? Isn’t the pleasure of constant eating far better than the benefits from intermittent fasting? Well, let’s take a look. Obviously intermittent fasting isn’t for everybody, but those interested might be impressed by the findings. It is important to check with your doctor before you plan on trying intermittent fasting, especially if you have an existing medical condition.
During the fasted state it has been shown that insulin levels drop dramatically, which increases the body's ability to burn fat. Therefore people can expect to lose weight in the form of fat. The body is also able to remove waste material from the cells efficiently during this time, in a process known as autophagy.
Another impressive detail is that human growth hormone has been found to increase during intermittent fasting. Human growth hormone has been associated with numerous benefits which include increased fat burning and the building of lean muscle mass.
Digging deeper, research has made it apparent that intermittent fasting may be capable of reducing oxidative stress and inflammation within the body. What is oxidative stress? It is the damage that cells receive due to to the presence of free radicals in the body which is linked to the ageing process.
Another incredible potential benefits of intermittent fasting is brain health. Animals studies have shown that intermittent fasting has increased the growth of new nerve cells which may benefits cognitive function.
Our final critical tip for enhancing health and fitness on a budget is perhaps the easiest and most crucial of them all. Yes, it is as simple of drinking more water and staying adequately hydrated throughout the day. One aspect to be mindful of here if the source of your water, as the quality of water is dependant of the source. Some tap water around the world is far from great. Spring water perhaps tops the list, but not everybody has access to fresh, unpolluted springs.
Drinking more water will help to maintain the fluid balance in your body. The body is made up of around 60 percent of water and many key bodily functions use the substance, such as digestion, delivery of nutrients and temperature maintenance.
Water may also play a role in weight loss which as it creates a sensation of being full, especially when combined with water rich foods such as fruits.
The skin contains a lot of water, and for that reason consumption of enough water throughout the day may improve the way your skin looks and feels.
Adequate water consumption is also essential for kidney health. The kidneys help the body flush out toxins and more water helps this process.