Life & Style | Health

10 cheap shortcuts to good health

Budget-friendly ways to improve your health and fitness

  • realbuzz.com
  • Published: 12:00 June 28, 2012
  • Aquarius

Woman with vegetables
  • Image Credit: Shutterstock
  • Why not take the cheaper and healthier option and grow your own fresh produce?

Realbuzz.com

If you think getting fit and healthy will blow your budget, it may be time to think again. Luckily, many of the things that are best for our health are actually low cost or even free. To improve your wellbeing without the hefty price tag, check out our 10 cheap shortcuts for boosting your health.

1. Stay fit at home

If expensive gym memberships are out of your price range, luckily there are many other ways to get fit for free. Try incorporating exercise into your regular routine through everyday activities such as gardening and housework, and take up a free activity such as walking, running or cycling to stay in shape. For those who fancy taking up an exercise such as yoga or Pilates, it may be helpful to take a few classes to master the basics then you can continue to practise the poses at home for free.

2. Create a healthy recipe archive

Want to get started in healthy cooking but can’t afford to invest in a good cook book? Thanks to the wonders of the internet you don’t need to shell out any money to build up a collection of recipes. With many websites catering to healthy eating recipes on a budget, you are guaranteed to find something to suit your tastes and price range without having to spend a penny.

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3. Practise deep breathing

It’s free, it’s unavoidable and we do it every day, but did you know that the simple act of breathing could help to boost your health? Research has suggested that yogic deep-breathing techniques can help people more effectively handle depression, anxiety and stress as well as stimulating the lymphatic system to more effectively deal with toxins. Try learning and practising deep breathing techniques on a regular basis to improve your physical and mental health for free.

4. Spend time with friends

Spending time with your friends is great for your health, with research suggesting that having a strong social network can help you live longer and reduce feelings of depression and stress. If you think that you can’t afford a social life, there are many ways you can spend time with friends on the cheap. Rather than eating out a restaurant, try taking turns to cook each other a cheap and healthy meal. Alternatively, plan a movie night instead of a trip to the cinema, and stock up on comedy films to boost your endorphins.

5. Drink lots of water

One of the cheapest and simplest ways to improve your health is by upping your intake of fluids. While there is no definitive guideline for how much you should drink a day, it is important not to wait until you are thirsty to drink as by this time you are already dehydrated. Some of the benefits of drinking more water include increased energy levels, improved digestion, less water retention and a better complexion. Replacing sugary drinks with water will also benefit your waistline and wallet.

6. Opt for home-grown produce

Getting your recommended daily portions of fruit and veg can sometimes work out expensive, so why not take the cheaper and healthier option and grow your own fresh produce? See the Aquarius feature from May issue, How To Grow Your Own. If you haven’t got green fingers, try to at least buy seasonal produce where possible to cut down the costs, or visit your local farmers’ market to stock up on fresh, cheap and healthy fruit and vegetables and support your local farmers too.

7. Have a bath

If you fancy a little pampering on the cheap, you can’t do much better than a nice, relaxing bath. While many of us think of bathing as a purely functional activity, soaking in the tub actually has many benefits outside of getting you clean. Taking time out to soak in a hot bath has many psychological benefits for a start, helping to induce relaxation and calm the mind. However, it can also help stimulate circulation and relax sore or tired muscles.

8. Get more sleep

If you regularly get less than eight hours sleep a night, getting more shut-eye could be one of the best (and cheapest) steps to improving your health. Not only can sufficient sleep help you live longer, boost memory and improve heart health, but lack of sleep has been proven to increase appetite, leading to weight gain, increased junk food consumption and more expensive shopping bills.

9. Cut back on your vices

Whether you like to indulge in a few too many glasses of wine, are addicted to takeaways, or have a smoking habit, ditching these unhealthy and expensive habits could drastically improve both your health and finances. Cigarettes and alcohol are notoriously expensive, as well as being leading causes of stroke, cancer and premature ageing, so try cutting down as much as you can or, better still, cutting out these vices entirely.

10. Practise portion control

With restaurant portions getting increasingly bigger, many of us have grown used to eating larger portions than we actually need. This not only puts us at risk of obesity and health problems but it can also add significantly to our shopping bills. Rather than eating until you’re fit to burst, try to stop eating at the very first signs of fullness and freeze any leftovers for another day. If you’re worried that smaller portions won’t keep you going all day, try loading up on low-GI foods such as oats, beans and yoghurt which will help you feel fuller for longer.

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