Expense is seldom, if ever, a real barrier to exercise; all you need to reap the most important benefits are a pair of shoes and some regular household items. Walking or jogging is one of the simplest and most affordable ways to be active, with potentially enormous health benefits. However, if you’ve had diabetes-related foot complications, talk to your doctor about safe forms of exercise for you. Do not use complications as an excuse for being inactive unless it is a medical necessity; the health benefits of exercise, including weight control, can help offset many potential complications in the long run.
In addition to aerobic activities such as running or walking, work some resistance exercises into your routine, even if very light ones are all that are feasible. (Aerobic exercise supports heart and lung health; resistance exercise promotes bone and muscle strength.) You can use items such as soup cans or bottles of water for this purpose, or you might want to buy inexpensive rubber exercise bands, which often come with instructions for use. Stretching regularly to maintain flexibility is another important part of physical fitness, and it costs nothing.
If you’re thinking about purchasing exercise equipment, first be realistic: Only buy something if you’re sure you’ll use it regularly. If you decide that buying equipment is the right choice for you, do some research to make sure that what you might purchase is durable. Buy used if possible — you can look in classified ads, used equipment stores, and Internet listings. (Remember that there will probably be shipping costs for online purchases.) Never buy an exercise video at its retail price unless you know it is exactly what you want. Some online stores, such as Collage Video (www.collagevideo.com), offer short, instant previews that may be helpful. It is far more cost-effective, though, to borrow videos from your public library, to buy them for pennies at a garage sale, or to record them from your TV. (Check your local TV listings; you may be surprised to see what you’re already paying for.)
With a little bit of initial exploration, it is possible to come up with a plan for exercise, just as for education, drugs, supplies, and food, that reflects your health needs and aspirations while limiting your expenditures. Although it requires some effort and commitment, investing wisely in your health can lead to both tangible and immeasurable returns on your money.