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Pennypinchers guide to fitness

Updated on January 28, 2011

Step 1: Put your wallet away - no cost fitness

I know there are an endless array of fitness and exercise programs as well as equiptment and gadgets that are touted as necessary for you to get the healthy body of your dreams. But the best thing about exercise is that it is free. You just need to , as Nike says, "just do it". Move that body and burn some calories. Here are some simple ideas to get you going. Just use the ones that work for you right now, you can add others later as you build momentum.

One foot in front of the other

Just put one foot in front of the other, It's called walking. We do it every day. Just do more of it. You can burn those extra calories without much effort on your part. Extra steps each day is all it takes. If you'd like to measure and keep track of your effort you can pick up an inexpensive pedometer. They have them at the 99 cent store. Not necessary, but for some it is good to know just what they have put forth. Dr. Oz says do 10,000 steps per day. I put a pedometer on for a week and averaged 2 -3 times that before lunch easily with no extra steps added . So, my suggestion to you is, wear the pedometer for a few days and see what your average number of steps per day is without any extra effort, then add on to that number by parking on the far side of the lot so you walk further to the door, take the stairs instead of the elevator, if you have a dog(or even if you don't) try to extend the walk, go around the block one more time, or even twice, take a quick walk on your lunch hour, or when the weekend rolls around take a hike! If the weather is bad, you can still walk at the mall, or just walk in place while listening to the news. A treadmill might be nice,but for some too expensive or takes up too much space. It's really not hard to fit in a little time to take some extra steps. It's good for the cardio as well as your joints and muscles and as you burn those extra pounds off, I think you will also find that it improves your mood and helps you to think more clearly.

Stretch and pull

In order to keep your muscles in good working order they need to be used. Like the old saying goes, "use it or lose it". Squats and lunges are great for the leg muscles as well as the core. Jumping jacks will work the arms and legs and your heart as well.For the abs I like to just get on my mat/ or the floor and face down, legs together and straight, rest your weight on your forearms with your arms in line with your shoulders then lift your body off the floor keeping the body straight, like a plank. Now just hold for about 1 minute or a bit longer if you can. You should be able to feel your core working to hold you straight.Repeat this 4-5 times to start. Love that exercise, it's so easy and simple, yet it really works!

Another good stretching exercise for all over is as follows: You'll need an exercise pole, you can use a broom handle (if the broom is not so clean cover it with an old rag and secure with a rubberband or tape). Hold it over your head with both hands just a little more than shoulder distance apart, legs apart just a little wider than shoulders and with your knees flexed. Now twist and bend to right,only go as far as is comfortable. You do want to feel the stretch though. Now back upright, and now to the left and down again then back to center. Start out with 10 to 15 repetitions and add on as you get acclimated to this exercise. Also instead of a broom handle you could just take a bath towel and twist it and pull it taut with your arms/ gives your arms a little extra workout pulling it taut too.There are variations to this exercise. You might find that you like to go to the right, down at the front center and then left, or just stay upright and do the twist stretch. You know your body and what you can handle. Also keep in mind that these are just suggestions and if you have any health issues at all, please check with your physician before starting any exercise you are not sure you can do.

You see now? You can get some good work outs without any extraneous equiptment. You'll find that you have plenty of things right there at home to help you do your exercises.

Weights in your kitchen

Depending on how heavy a weight you want to use, most can be found in your kitchen or around the house or in the garage. For light weights you can use canned foods. The smaller 15-16oz cans are probably easiest to handle or a container full of dishsoap would work good too. A larger weight item could be a half gallon or a gallon liquid, be it vinegar, or water or even laundry soap.For other options you may find something in your yard or garage. Building bricks could make an easy to hold smaller weight or for the big guys with larger hands try cinder blocks. There are also, quarts of oil, gallon sized containers filled with anything that won't leak. Or take some empty gallon jugs and fill them with sand to make some great weights. Okay, now you're ready to do some lifts and curls!

Have some fun with it -make a "play date"

For most of us it is always more enjoyable to do things with other people, be it your best friend or even someone you don't know all that well. Just someone to talk to and laugh with.No bff available to exercise with you say? Join a local adults ball team or a swim group at the Y or local univercity,  grab a basketball and go shoot hoops at the school yard or church rec area. There are also usually some very inexpensive group classes available to try such as dancing of many types, yoga, or self defense. Pull out that old bicycle, dust off those old inline skates, pull out those skis(water or snow)and use them. If you don't have any, they can be found very cheap or sometimes even free at online free sites such as craigslist or ebay local classifieds or you could just put up a notice of what you are looking for. Anything that you find that's fun to do that you can do with others and burn some calories will be something that you will be more apt to continue. This is not only good for your physical health, but also your mental and emotional health will benefit as well.

I hope that this will inspire you to go ahead and just get out and move. You've got to move it to lose it. Of course, these few suggestions are only the tip of the iceburg, but I'm sure you can find at least one to work for you. The hardest part is getting started, but I know that by using  simple small changes in your lifestyle, that you can find a successful program for you. It all starts with that first step.Just put one foot in front of the other.


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