As I’m typing this, I’ve just returned from a lovely half hour walk/run with my dog Molly. It’s currently 17C (62F) outside and sunny – which, in Canada, means Spring is here!
Now that Spring has arrived, all I want to do is spend time outside, working on the yard, walking, and soaking up some vitamin D.
This is great news for my wallet, since most of the things I’m planning on doing are free – and a healthy form of exercise. Here are some great ways to spend time outside this Spring.
This might not be the MOST fun activity, but it’s definitely free, and it’s definitely a workout. A moderate sized yard requires at least a few hours of preparation in the Spring time, so why not do it yourself? You’ll save money, get some fresh air, and burn a few calories, what’s not to like about that scenario?
I love walking and running in my neighbourhood. My dog Molly needs the exercise, otherwise she becomes excitable, and I need the exercise, otherwise I’m not going to fit into my wedding dress this summer. Spending time outside and going for a stroll in your neighbourhood is a great way to get some free exercise. As a bonus, it’ll help you become more connected to your community, and spend less time vegging in front of the couch.
I really want to get my hands on a bike this summer, so my dog Molly and I can cover a bit more ground and explore a little more! Of course, that wouldn’t be the most frugal purchase, so I’ll probably put it off until I’m debt free.
Another favourite activity of mine is hiking. The closest national park is about a 40 minute drive from my house, but it’s worth the trip for an afternoon of walking on the beach and exploring trails. The admission fee is reasonable, and if I pack a small BBQ and cooler full of food, it’s the only expense associated with this cheap outing that can entertain me for hours.
I was terrible at kite flying as a kid, it probably had something to do with my short legs and terrible coordination. Now that I’m a little older, my coordination is still awful, but my kite flying skills have improved. Kite flying is a fun and cheap way to get outside, with the cheapest kites costing only a couple of bucks. Kites can typically be flown anywhere, but you’re safest if you find an open field or park area.
Yes, eating out on a restaurant patio is just about the most enjoyable activity I can think of, but that’s not always possible with my tight budget. The cheaper alternative is to have a picnic in a local park. By bringing your own food, you can enjoy the beautiful sun without having to break the bank. Get your exercise by walking to the location instead of driving.
It’s so easy to hunker down into the warmth of a cozy house when the weather outside is terrible. Now that the sun is shining and the grass is green again, it’s time to take advantage of the great outdoors for some cheap, healthy entertainment!
This year, things will be different.
As they step out their door armed with running shoes or a gym pass, there’s only one thing standing between them and the legion of people who let their gym memberships lapse by May, and that’s a plan.
I’m the same way, I know I need to exercise. Hell, once I’m out there, I even enjoy myself. Exercising is great, it makes me look good, makes me feel good, and it’s really rewarding to achieve things like running new long distances.
There’s only one problem: I’m lazy. Like, really lazy. Yes, running (my exercise of choice) is great, but you know what else is great? Sitting on the couch with a cozy knitted blanket and a couple of episodes of X Files.
So how do I manage to stick with my exercise program? Well, it took some trial and error, but I’ve found what motivates me to get my butt on that road.
Anyone who reads my blog knows I’m big on goal setting. One of my goals for 2013 is to run 500km. Last year I ran 437km so 500km should be doable, but it’ll take a sustained running effort over the whole year. Running 500km isn’t something I’m going to be able to pull off with just a few months left in the year.
Whether it’s to your family, group of friends, the blogosphere, or on your favourite social network, declaring your goal in a public forum suddenly makes you accountable. It could be anything, from a general intention to exercise or lose weight, to a specific goal weight, running race distance, or total hours at the gym. Specific goals work better, as they give you something to aim for, but any declaration should be helpful.
I’ve found that the only thing that really motivates me to run, is to enter a race. If I don’t have a race on the horizon, running just doesn’t seem worth it. Entering a race is final, and failing to prepare by not running enough and not following a training program means that I won’t be able to achieve my goal time. Not achieving my goal time is as good as failing, and that’s not something I’m prepared to do.
Having other people who are like minded and enthusiastic about exercise is key to maintaining enthusiasm. I have a few running buddies that I run with regularly, and having someone to go out with makes all the difference. In fact, even having my dog Molly as an always willing companion makes a huge difference in my willingness to trudge out in the cold winter for a run.
Instead of simply joining the gym, is it possible to join an organized program? There are tons of couch to 5k programs available that involve group runs with other beginners. Similarly, many gyms offer specific classes or beginner fitness programs that might motivate you to show up at the allotted times, not just whenever you can find time to get to the gym. And when looking into fitness programs and exercise regimes, look into glucosamine in gel form and other useful supplements to help your training.
If exercising was easy, obesity wouldn’t be the epidemic it is. The fact is, exercise is hard and a pain in the ass. It takes little tricks and tactics to get motivated enough to stay fit, but the result is more than worth the effort. If using even one of these tips helps you start and maintain a healthy and meaningful exercise program, then you’re already miles ahead of most people.
About four years ago I would be what you would consider Jack Johnson’s biggest fan. lol! No seriously.
I’ve seen him…oh about ten times live (both paid and free shows), and used to be on his old website’s forum daily. I even made a few “real life” friends through the forum.
My obsession has since decreased (although I still really like him), but all of his CD’s still sit in my car, which I pop in whenever I need a little anti-road rage music.
And whenever I feel myself running around like a chicken with my head cut off, I always sing this line from Brushfire Fairytales…“slow down everyone, you’re moving too fast…”
There are so many reasons to “slow down,” because one way “moving too fast” really affects me are financially.
In just this last week, there are three different times that moving too fast has cost me money.
1. Parking fees. I was going to a yoga class last Wednesday and was trying to squeeze a million things in before I had to leave. If I would have left earlier, I could have driven around an extra five minutes or so to find free parking. Instead I parked at a meter.
2. Gas. Being in a rush once again and not planning ahead of time, I wasn’t able to make it to the cheaper gas station, so I had to go to the more expensive one near my house, just in case I ran out of gas. And if you’ve been to California in the last month or so, you know how expensive things got around here.
3. Convenience food. On several different occasions I was too busy and distracted to take the time to know what I already had in my kitchen and pantry, so I made stops for more food that I didn’t need that was quick and easy when I got home. If I would take a little extra time, I would know what was in my kitchen and come up with a meal from there.
1. Being late for something, so you drive too fast and get a speeding ticket.
2. Having to pay late fees because you got distracted and didn’t pay some bills on time.
3. And as odd as this may sound, being in frenzied mode means you’re more at risk for injuring yourself. I’m notorious for bumping into walls when I’m in a rush, and knocking over and breaking dishes.
4. Not taking the time to comparison shop, so you might be buying a more expensive version of an item.
5. Not making your lunch or coffee because you’re too rushed in the morning, so you end up buying them instead.
I know life is hectic, believe me, but I think there are things we can do in those moments of frenzy to re-center ourselves and not just rush, rush, rush.
1. Can it wait? I often find myself squeezing one last thing/email/phone call in before I need to leave to go somewhere. But more often than not, I can do it when I get back. Resisting that urge in the moment can save me a lot of time and money in the long run.
2. Breathe. So simple and obvious, yet how often do you just take a few moments to take a few breaths to gather yourself?
3. Stay organized. I could save myself a lot of time if I took a few moments the night before to put my keys where I know I can find them, or my bills that need to be mailed by the door. Or if you work in an office to pack your lunch the night before.
4. Staying present with where you are at in the moment. Have you ever read blogs (it might be this one) where you start to pass over whole paragraphs and maybe just get to the end part? (Guilty!) I think that’s just become a norm in our society because we are so busy all the time. Make a habit of trying to slow down and absorb what you are trying to read. If not you might miss some important details.
5. Alleviate distractions, especially while driving. Raise your hand if you’ve ever checked your email at a stoplight, or even sent a text? You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know how potentially dangerous this could be. It’s not worth even a minor repercussion like hitting the back of someone’s car to do this. Or getting a ticket.
6. Find a mantra that works for you to slow yourself down when you need it. You can even borrow mine!
This is a guest post from the lovely Tonya. T.L. is a freelance video editor and blogger living in Los Angeles. She enjoys movies, running and playing beach volleyball. You can follow her personal finance journey on her blog at Budget & the Beach, and follow her on twitter at @beachbudget.