I love showing you guys all the everyday ways I save money. Using coupons, rebates, and apps are easily demonstrated and the savings result in instant gratification. Another way I save money, which might not be as obvious, is by leading a healthy and active lifestyle. In fact, a recent study published by the American Heart Association found that people who participated in at least 30 minutes of moderate/vigorous physical activity for 5 days a week had significantly lower healthcare costs. Lowering healthcare expenses over a lifetime can add up to substantial savings! Luckily, leading a healthy and active lifestyle requires very little money. There’s no need to get a gym membership, here in SoCal we have an abundance of free ways to stay fit.
DISCLAIMER: While I did take 2 semesters of weight training and 1 semester of hiking and backpacking in college, I AM NOT a certified personal trainer. You should always consult your physician or other health care professional before starting any fitness program.
Many of the local parks here in LA offer extensive exercise stations far beyond the standard pull-up bar (which is still my favorite). You can now find everything from elliptical and rowing machines for cardio to chest and leg press machines for strength training. Those exercises can be augmented with body-weight exercises like push-ups and squats. Purchase inexpensive equipment like kettlebells and resistance bands for a total body workout (Check discount stores like Marshalls or T.J. Maxx for these products). Grand Park in downtown LA even offers a free weekly bootcamp class in the summer and free yoga classes throughout the year. Explore your neighborhood park to discover what’s available.
Numerous public staircases dot the landscape of Los Angeles. Originally built to provide access to public transportation, they now serve as a fantastic free cardio alternative to the repetitive StairMaster. Some uber-popular locations, such as the Santa Monica stairs and the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook in Culver City, can have a meat-market vibe. If you’re not on the prowl, there are plenty of rarely used staircases throughout the city where you can get your heart racing without the crowds. Staircases can be utilized for a wide variety of workouts such as sprints or lunges, I like to take 2 steps at a time. Remember to be careful and stretch beforehand.
Finally, if you live in LA and don’t take advantage of the countless miles of hiking trails throughout the city, there’s something wrong with you. Hiking not only improves your physical health, it has been shown to improve mental health as well. Hiking is by far my favorite exercise and it’s easy to get creative with your workout on the trail. I like to curl heavy rocks while I’m hiking and do a set of push-ups every mile while wearing my backpack.
If you’re new to hiking, PLEASE follow my simple advice:
- WATER Bring more water than you think you’ll need. It gets hot out there on the trail and dehydration is a bitch. If you plan on becoming a regular hiker, a hydration backpack is a great investment. It’s also a great idea to carry a few snacks as well.
- SUNSCREEN Protect yourself from the sun. Yes, sunscreen is sticky and gross, but skin cancer is worse. A wide-brimmed hat is a smart additional way to protect your noggin from the sun.
- PROPER FOOTWEAR My cousin once arrived to a hike in high-heels. Seriously. A good pair of sneakers will work fine on local trails. However, if you plan on becoming a regular hiker or are worried about ankle stability, hiking boots can be a worthwhile investment.
Committing to a lifestyle of regular exercise coupled with a healthy diet (This is simple, avoid junk food, soda, alcohol, and cigarettes.) will most likely lead to reduced health care costs throughout your life. Much like saving money, it’s best to start when you’re young, but the right time to start is always right now. By taking advantage of all the free ways to exercise in SoCal you can improve your physical, mental, and financial health! Hit me up in the comments section with your favorite ways to stay healthy.