Staying active (or taking the first steps to becoming more active) can improve your quality of life in many ways. Besides health benefits like improved muscle tone and balance, it can help lower your chances for chronic conditions like heart disease and cancer, according to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Being more active also can improve your mood, reduce stress and give you a healthy way to socialize with family or friends.
To be active, you don’t have to belong to a pricey gym or buy expensive equipment. There are many low-cost and free ways to get your body moving right outside your door. Here are some ideas:
Explore the neighborhood
Head out for a solitary stroll and get to know your neighborhood and your neighbors again. This is one of the simplest and easiest ways to work some physical activity into your life. Just throw on some comfortable shoes, head out the door and explore.
Make it a social walk
Instead of sitting around the television this evening, gather your family for a walk. Challenge little ones by making it a scavenger hunt where they can pick up small items like rocks or four-leaf clovers, or hunt for a list of items like a dog, bicycle or insect. Getting outside together will be a chance to get your blood pumping and reconnect at the end of your day.
Head to a mall
If it’s too cold or rainy for an outdoor walk, leave your credit cards at home and head to the nearest mall. If you go when it first opens, you’ll see “mall walkers” heading past the shops before the crowds get in the way. This is a great free way to get exercise in and people watch, too.
Find a park
When was the last time you enjoyed the great outdoors? Take advantage of area parks, which are typically free or have a low entry fee. There are many things you can do without spending a lot a money, from collecting leaves or shells to taking a nature walk under the trees. The fresh air will do you good as well.
Spruce up your yard
Here’s a good two-for-one – head to your backyard and pick up one of those projects you’ve been putting off. Weeding the garden, painting your patio furniture or raking leaves will not only work muscles you forgot you had, it will make your yard more welcoming.
Make a splash
If your community or local park has a pool, put on the sunscreen, jump in and splash around. Swimming is easy on your joints and moving through the water adds resistance that works your muscles and improves tone. If you have a friend with a pool, offer to bring snacks over in exchange for swim time.
Hop on a bike
They say you never forget how to ride. Dust off the one in your garage or head to a thrift shop or sporting goods consignment store to snap up a used bike for a bargain. Check out the local marketplace on Facebook and search for used bikes offered for sale or free.
Pick up trash
For the cost of a pair of disposable gloves and a trash bag, do-gooders can help the environment, beautify their community and get in some physical activity by picking up trash. You can do this in a group or solo in a park, in your neighborhood or even safely along a road from the sidewalk.
Have fun in a playground
While the kiddies are at school, a vacant community playground can be a fun way to work in some exercise. Try climbing the jungle gym or hanging from the monkey bars for a throwback experience.
Climb the stairs
Any downtown area or public building with stairs to climb can offer you a great leg workout for no cost. Set goals and add time and floors to your climb to improve fitness.
Find a geocaching app on your phone that rewards you with points as you find items, sort of like a digital scavenger hunt. This is a great way to get you outside walking around and exploring new places.
There are plenty of low-cost and free ways to help you get outside and stay active without breaking the bank. Walk the dog. Fly a kite. Toss a frisbee with friends. You’ll feel better, get some fresh air and improve your health.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. Ameris Bank does not endorse nor is affiliated with the companies listed in this article.