By Andrea Woroch
It’s no surprise that “losing weight” is the number-one New Year’s resolution for 2014, with 38 percent of all resolutions being weight-related. Meanwhile, 34 percent of resolutions are money-related, with many people hoping to spend less and save more this year.
Resolutions are easy to make and tough to keep, with a measly 8 percent of Americans achieving their New Year’s goals. Kill two birds with one stone this year by picking up some of these cheap health tips for 2014.
1. Say “Cheese!” A study on human responses to smiling conducted by the University of Kansas and reported in Psychological Science found that those who grin feel better emotionally and physically, especially during difficult situations. Smiling also helped lower stress and improved heart health.
2. Walk. The popular step counter, Fitbit, recommends taking 10,000 steps each day while the average American only takes 5,000. Add extra steps to your daily routine by opting for a parking spot at the back of the lot, going for a work-walk meeting with your colleagues, and skipping the escalator or elevator in favor of the stairs which helps you burn 40 percent more calories!
3. Stand Up. Those who spend most of the day sitting — whether at a desk for work or after hours slouched on the couch watching TV — could be at increased risk for cancer and heart disease. When at work, make sure to get up every hour and move around, use a stand-up desk or take a conference call for a walk. Set reminders on your computer to get up a few times throughout the day to stretch your legs.
4. Buddy Up. Having a friend to workout with will keep you accountable, challenged and simply make it more fun. Plus, you can split the costs of personal training sessions, share healthy recipes and always have a seat saved at spin class when you’re running late!
5. Know the Numbers. Knowing calorie, fat and sodium content of food can help you better understand what to eat and what to avoid. This is especially important when eating out, since the calorie and fat content of dishes can be misleading. For example, a diner at Applebee’s might be surprised to learn the Bacon Cheddar Cheeseburger has less calories, fat and sodium than the Oriental Grilled Chicken Salad.
6. Grab a Fitness Coupon. If you find yourself in need of new gear or equipment, be sure to shop smart with coupons. Use your smartphone to save on everything from new workout clothes to fitness equipment to vitamin supplements. The free Coupon Sherpa app, for example, has coupons to Sports Authority, Vitamin Shoppe, Big 5 Sporting Goods and more. Even your local fitness center may offer coupons for newbies, so ask before signing up.
7. Buy a Bike. Riding your bike can boost your energy by 20 percent, according to a study reported by Women’s Health magazine. Use your bike to get to and from work, run errands around town and meet up with friends for brunch on the weekend. Shop used bikes on Craigslist or look for discounts on last year’s models.
8. Go Online. There are tons of great sites that offer free workout videos at home with cardio and strength-training moves. Check BodyRock for high-intensity interval training workouts. If you’re looking for something more mellow, check out the free videos at YogaDownload and stretch your way to a leaner body!
9. Swap DVDs. You probably have a few workout DVDs collecting dust in your media center. If you’re sick of the routines, call up some friends and organize a DVD swap to get fresh workouts for free! Better yet, schedule a time to do the workout with a friend so you’re more motivated to get up and go.
10. Shop Garage Sales. There are tons of treasures waiting to be plucked up from garage sales in your area and it’s a great way to get cheap workout equipment like dumbbells, benches, jump ropes and even cardio machines. Review your daily newspaper for upcoming listings or simply go for a spin around town on Saturday morning to find signs pointing you to various sales.
11. Buy a Scale. People who use a scale on a daily basis were found to maintain their body weight which is crucial to heart health. According to a study reported on by Prevention magazine, daily weighers dropped twice as many pounds as weekly weighers. The article also suggests basic, cheap scales are preferable to high-tech ones that also purport to measure your body fat and muscle weight. Win win!
12. Hit the Hay. Getting a minimum of seven to eight hours of Zs is crucial for well being, brain power and weight maintenance. If you’re having trouble falling asleep, review your bedtime rituals. Make sure your TV and gadgets are turned off 30 to 60 minutes before bed as the light keeps your mind racing. Check out this article for more tips on getting a restful night’s sleep.
13. Eat Colorful Food. Eating the suggested daily portions of vegetables and fruit are crucial to overall health. The more colorful your plate, the more nutrients you consume to fight fat and disease. When shopping for produce, choose organic wisely and avoid paying a premium for fruits and veggies with tough skins. You can also save by opting for frozen berries and vegetables which contain the same vitamins and nutrients than the fresh options.
14. Use Body Weight for Resistance. Fancy gym equipment, weights and punching bags come at a price and aren’t necessary to achieve your fitness goals. In fact, your own body weight is all you need to get in shape! From lunges to push ups to tricep dips, there are tons of moves you can do at home or at the office during your lunch break using your weight as resistance. There are also items in your home that can double as workout tools, like panty hose as resistance bands or canned goods and bottled water as dumbbells.
Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert who helps consumers live on less without radically changing their lifestyles. From smart spending tips to personal finance advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers. She has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. You can follow her on Twitter for daily savings advice and tips.