Staying Healthy on a Budget – Part 1.
Hannah Knight – Accounts & Administration Assistant
The past few months have been difficult for many of us with the cost of living increasing. It can be a daunting and stressful time trying to manage your finances and cut back on things that are not considered essential. Here at X-PERT Health we have come up with a few tips that could help you be a savvy shopper and save money while still being healthy!
How many times a week do you go to the gym? Cancelling your gym membership could be the first step in saving money, if you do not think that you use it enough. If your gym allows it you could opt to paying per session. This will ensure you are only paying for when you go, and it could end up being cheaper! We often forgot to cancel subscriptions that are no longer needed so it may be worth checking out if this is an area where you can save.
We obviously want you to stay healthy. So please do continue to go to the gym if your financial circumstances allow you to.
Have you noticed outside gym equipment in your local park? These are a great alternative to gym memberships. Councils across the UK have implemented this equipment to help people stay healthy on a budget. One of the providers is The Great Outdoor Gym Company (TGO). They have over 1500 TGO Gyms located across the UK. Use this link to find one near you.
They also have a handy app that you can download which will allow you to discover the TGO equipment, then log, track and share your activity and wellbeing.
*If you cannot see outside gym equipment near you, check your local council’s website as they may be another provider in your area.
Don’t Let Dark Evenings Stop You Exercising
Dark evenings can often make us feel like coming home from work and getting comfy on the sofa with a brew. However, the NHS guidelines recommend that you should do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week if you are aged between 19 to 64.
You may feel unsafe going for walks or runs alone in the dark. Especially if you live in an unlit area. However, make the most of your friends and family and ask them to meet you for a walk/run. Alternatively, join a local running or walking group as they will often continue exercising throughout the winter months meeting in the same place every week. Meeting in groups can make you feel safer, motivated and it’s free!
Home workouts can also be great way of staying fit if you do not want to venture outside. Search on YouTube for videos of different exercises which can be done from the comfort of your own home.
Lets Get Physical
It is well known that being physically active can have a positive effect on your health, but many people don’t realise how many ways physical activity can be beneficial. Some of the benefits include; more energy, reduces blood pressure, reduces fatty plaques, builds muscle, better sleep, reduces risk of heart disease & stroke, reduces depression, lowers blood glucose, helps weight control and reduces bone fractures.
You may be concerned about increasing physical activity levels but if activity levels are built up gradually the likely benefits outweigh any smalls risks. However, it is always best to speak to your GP/healthcare team first if you have not exercised for some time, or if you have medical conditions or concerns. Make sure your activity and intensity are appropriate for your fitness.
Supermarket & Shopping Tips
Another big area you could save money is in food shopping. Budgeting in the supermarket can be super easy if you follow some of our suggestions below.
1) Plan meals and make lists
Planning your meals for the week is a great way to ensure when you go to the supermarket you have a clear idea of what you need. Making a list of the ingredients you need will ensure when you go to the supermarket you will not be tempted to add other items to your trolley! You could also batch cook meals and freeze leftovers for lunch or evening meals.
Where possible do not go food shopping when you are hungry. This may result in making impulse purchases and choosing less healthy options. This can also cause you to spend more money than you intended!
2) Avoid the end of aisles
In supermarkets, particularly larger ‘superstores’, the end of aisles often features special offers for discounted prices. Whilst these may be tempting, they are often highly processed foods which contain a lot of refined carbs and/or processed fats. To avoid temptation, try to ignore banners and promotional material. We often get drawn into items that are ‘on offer’ when realistically we do not need them and would not usually buy them.
3) Do a weekly food shop
When people do several ‘top-up’ shops it is more than likely that you will end up spending more money. Doing a single weekly shop, if planned well, is a more time and cost-effective way of buying food.
4) Shop smart in the supermarket
When in the supermarket opt for cheaper brands. The more expensive brands often feature eye catching colours and are placed at eye level. If you look around you will often see a supermarkets ‘own brand’ for half the price in a slightly less alluring packaging.
Also look out for ‘wonky’ fruit and vegetables! Lots of the big supermarkets now have a ‘wonky’ range. ‘Wonky’ is a term used for food that has been rejected. This may be because they are too small, too big, be slightly the wrong colour, or have tiny cracks in the skin.
Check out the ‘reduce to clear’ section. There is nothing wrong with buying items from the ‘reduce to clear’. With meat you can take home and freeze straight away or with fruit and vegetables they will often last a few more days. Or if already on the turn, you can make soup with leftover or ‘reduce to clear’ vegetables.
5) Loyalty Schemes
Take advantage of supermarket loyalty schemes. Most supermarkets now have an advantage scheme for loyal customers. This could mean shopping in their supermarket results in you receiving points. These can be exchanged for coupons or money off your next shop. However, do be wary of coupons offering you discounts on less healthy products that you do not need.
Some supermarkets have “scan as you go machines”, maybe give these a try when you next shop. They are very simple to use, and you can keep a check of what you are spending as you go.
We hope you found some of our tips and suggestions helpful. Please send us your comments or ideas on how to save money and be healthy. Email us at email@example.com. We would love to hear from you, and may even feature your suggestions in our future blogs.