4 Ways Being Cheap Can Help Improve Your Health

4 Ways Being Cheap Can Help Improve Your HealthIf 35-dollar-a-pop workout classes and high-priced pressed juices just aren’t in your budget, relax: Good health doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. In fact, in some cases, choosing the cheaper option can actually be the better option for your wallet and your well-being.

“The story that self-care and health are only for those with money to spend is a false narrative,” says New York-based nurse practitioner and health coach, Victoria Albina, FNP-c, MPH. “It creates a sense of lack within consumers in an economy where our self-worth is determined by what we can buy and spend money on. There are things that anyone can do for free to help themselves be healthier.”

Whether you’ve been eating clean and working out for years or you’re just starting to make the transition from processed foods to produce, here are four ways being cheap may actually help improve your health:

1. Walk more

Not only is logging steps an awesome way to incorporate more moderate-intensity exercise, which can, in turn, boost your Cardio Fitness Level, but it’s an easy way to slash your transportation expenses. Aside from saving you the cost of a full gas tank or monthly bus pass, walking more can also help you manage your weight.  

“Walking is one of the best ways to help you maintain a healthy weight, which can reduce your long-term health expenses,” says Washington D.C.-based doctor, Shilpi Agarwal, M.D. Imagine, he adds, “less obesity, fewer blood pressure problems, and potentially less money on meds and doctor visits.”

Aside from the potential weight-loss and cardio benefits, the dose of sunlight you get during your daily walk can also improve your productivity. “I see so many patients with chronic insomnia, and one of the big culprits is not being outside all day,” says Albina, noting that blue light from the daytime sky helps regulate the brain chemical melatonin, which helps regulate sleep/wake cycles.

“People wake up, run to the train, and go into a building all day, and don’t properly turn off their nightly melatonin—no wonder they’re groggy and reaching for that latte by 2 p.m.!” Try swapping your afternoon caffeine fix for a brisk walk (bonus points if you can start commuting on foot) and see if your energy improves.

2. Cook your meals at home

Research has found that ultra-processed foods make up more than half the calories consumed by Americans, and all that packaged sugar, salt, and hydrogenated oil is likely having a negative effect on your health and your bank account. One study found that filling up on fast food is less nutritious and more expensive than consuming a more wholesome diet based on recommendations from the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

“Never before in human history have we been exposed to the number of chemicals, preservatives, and rancid cooking oils we eat every day,” says Albina. “When you eat packaged convenience foods or order out, you have no idea what is actually in your food. If you’re dealing with IBS, gas and bloating, constipation or diarrhea, acne, anxiety and depression, fatigue or autoimmunity, it’s vital that you know exactly what you’re eating. Your kindergarten teacher was right: You are what you eat.”

Take some time during the week to prep your meals at home—you might be surprised to find how simple (and delicious) home cooking can be. “Have a protein such as meat, fish or beans, a vegetable carbohydrate like yams or squash, and a healthy fat, like coconut oil, avocado or nuts each meal,” says Albina. Here are 5 recipes to help you get started.

3. Grow your own produce

You don’t need a lot of space or experience to grow a money-saving garden. “Whether you live in a major city or a rural town or anywhere in between, there is likely somewhere to grow some easy-to-grow vegetables like kale, spinach, basil, or tomatoes,” says Albina. “I’ve been growing these nutrient powerhouses and more on my fire escape in Brooklyn for years.” The price difference between store-bought produce and the home-grown variety can be significant: For example, the average yield for a row of tomato plants (totaling about $15) is about 60 pounds. That same crop could cost you eight times the price (or more!) at the store.

“This not only saves money but eliminates pesticides on your produce which is a great side benefit,” adds Agarwal. “Plus, you dont waste or throw away foods.”

4. Quit smoking

Smoking cigarettes isn’t just terrible for your health—it’s also crazy expensive. According to the website Smokefree.gov, the average price of a pack of cigarettes in the United States is $6.28. Even if you “only” smoke a single cigarette each day, you’ll sink more than $4,000 into the habit over two decades.

And, of course, the ultimate argument for quitting is clear: Cigarette smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths each year in the U.S.—that’s nearly one in five!—and significantly increases your chances of developing everything from coronary heart disease to lung cancer. Albina can’t pick just one reason to quit. “There are too many reasons,” she says. “All of the things!”

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10 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I am starting to walk again did 10,000 steps yesterday and approaching that number and higher today I feel great! Fitbit helps keep me to task

  • Down 65 lbs since Dec 2012. No clubs. No diets. Just 8 miles a day (walking, recumbent or dancing). All whole veggie (4 servings/day) & fruit (2 servings/day) meals w/ some fish or egg white.

  • I quit smoking almost 6 years ago which helped my health hugely, however, I put on too much weight, so since I started using my fit-bit I have been doing 10000 steps per day and also use a vibrating plate. I lost between 5 to 7 kg and feel great. Eating less and healthier foods too. Avoiding as much as possible dairy products and eat very little meat. Drink more water and drink wine only 3 glasses per week.

  • I have been eating clean since October 2017. Down 35 pounds, and I feel great.
    The fitbit was a gift from my husband shortly after I started this journey to better health, and I’ve increased my daily steps goal from 5,000 to 9,000 and often go well over that. Next goal ???
    I’m 69 and haven’t felt this good in years.

  • I’m 71 plus and a petite women, I have always believed in walking and some form of exercising. Get 13,000. Steps plus a day with 45 minutes in a target zone. It not only good for my body but also my mind. We eat mostly at home with lots of fruit and veggies, always trying something new. A challenge every day. Love it.

  • Oh no. I got lazy and now wear my fitbit for a watch. I plan to start my 10000 steps again today and will walk again.

  • Bought my first fitbit in January 2016 since then have logged more than 12 million miles mostly for work. I find it hard to lose weight as I am hungry all the time. Out of control in America, always trying to upgrade my food choices to fresh fruits an veggies, but wife buys the food. too easy to slip into a food coma when ice cream is put in front of me. I have lost weight before and most likely will do it again when I am really tired of being fat. I have on the other hand put myself in a better mood by walking more and my blood pressure is in the normal range. My resting heart rate is in the high 50’s, I guess i’m just counting my blessings that i’m not diabetic.

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