The older I get, the less I take my good health for granted. Especially in a pandemic! I think it’s important to keep your immune system strong, to help your body fight colds, viruses and cancers. It is worth making a few efforts to stay healthy, but how to do it on a budget?
If you are trying to live a frugal lifestyle, joining a gym or health club, buying all organic food and splashing out on a regular massage or beauty treatments won’t be viable options.
However, you can still take some simple steps to improve your health and here are five ideas to stay healthy on a budget.
1. Eat real food
Avoiding processed food and junk food generally is a good move. Since cooking a basic meal yourself tends to be a lot cheaper anyway, this isn’t as hard as it sounds. You can find plenty of easy, healthy and cheap recipes in my frugal food section.
Sure, I would love to make sure all of our food is organic, but that would seriously bust the food budget. Instead, we focus on eating plenty of fruit and veg – fresh, frozen or canned. It’s not that difficult to get your five a day on a budget, as explained in this post.
Meat is expensive, so you could consider eating more pulses. They are cheap and full of protein and fibre. Here are some ideas to incorporate more pulses.
If you can afford a supplement, vitamin C would be my first choice. It has been linked to an improved immune system, as well as lowering your chances of getting high blood pressure and heart problems. This article from Healthline explains the benefits of vitamin C in more detail.
I always take 1g a day and rarely get a cold or the flu. The Lindens one is good value, at 360 tablets for £16.99. I buy mine from Amazon here*.
The other supplement I take is vitamin D. It has been shown to boost your immune system, make you less susceptible to MS and reduce depression. You can find out more about the benefits of taking a vitamin D supplement here. I use Vitamin D 4000 IU – 400 Easy to Swallow Softgels – Over A Year’s Supply – Vitamin D3 Cholecalciferol – Manufactured in The UK by Nutravita at just £9.99 for a year’s supply.
2. Get some sunlight
OK, I live in the UK and it’s not always sunny! But just getting some daylight every day has great benefits to your health.
I really felt the lack of daylight in winter when I used to work in an office. It was depressing to arrive for work in the dark and leave when the sun had already gone down. Now that I am self-employed and do two walks a day with the dog, it has hugely benefitted my mental health and I have lost weight too!
Getting out for a short walk in your lunch break can make all the difference. Getting some sunlight on your face will massively lift your mood, but even if you go out in dull weather you will get some benefits.
Sunlight enables your body to produce vitamin D, can help treat and prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder, helps skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema, and has even been shown to help prevent certain cancers. You can find out more about the benefits of sunlight in this Healthline article.
As I said already, you don’t have to join a gym or pay for fitness classes in order to exercise. Walking is free, and is brilliant exercise. It’s also easy to fit into your day: walking the dog, leaving the car when you take the kids to school, parking a short distance from your place of work or taking a stroll in your break.
Other than comfortable shoes, you don’t need any expensive equipment to walk and can also save money on petrol.
Running is another potentially free exercise, although a decent pair of trainers is recommended. The NHS Couch to 5K programme can get you started for free.
My favourite form of exercise is yoga, which I can do pretty much anywhere. A mat is helpful but not essential. There are a lot of yoga teachers on You Tube, along with any other type of fitness activity you can think of. Whether you fancy Pilates, aerobics or just a general work out, you can do it for free.
Exercise improves your mood, lowers your stress levels, can protect you from disease and improves your energy levels.
4. Weight control
A lot has been said about how you are more likely to die from covid-19 if you are obese, as explained in this Guardian article.
However, being overweight has so many negative impacts on your health. You are more likely to suffer from type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. Heart attacks and strokes are more common in overweight people, as well as gallstones, joint problems and certain types of cancers.
Joining weight loss clubs such as Slimming World and Weight Watchers work for many people and are relatively inexpensive. I liked Slimming World because it was easy to do on a budget and I didn’t have to spend a lot on so-called diet foods.
However, if you can’t afford a slimming club, there are many resources online. I like Katie, a fitness vlogger who runs Love Sweat Fitness. She lost 45lbs through good diet and exercise and has kept it off. If you want to get some motivation to lose weight, check out this You Tube video.
5. Get enough sleep
It’s so easy to be busy all the time and go to bed too late. I did it all the time at one point! Then it’s hard to wind down and insomnia can follow.
Being tired all the time is not fun. Lack of sleep negatively impacts on your mood and concentration levels, weakens your immune system and increases your stress levels.
This article explains the benefits of a good night’s sleep.
Good sleep hygiene can help you to get off to sleep if you struggle and there are some brilliant tips on the Sleep Hygiene Council website here. None of them will cost you anything, and good sleep will help you stay healthy on a budget.
So, those are my top tips to stay healthy on a budget. Please share yours in the comments below. Stay well!
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