Why getting fit will save you money

Published:
12 July 2011
Topic:
News,Shopping

Long summer days make it easy to exercise outdoors, which means there's no need to sign up for pricey gym memberships.

Eating healthily shouldn't cost too much either: the warm weather - and the thunderstorms - mean there's plenty of fresh fruit and veggies on offer. So if you're planning a bit of a health kick, this is a great time.

There are lots of inexpensive - and sometimes, free - ways to get fit and once your health improves you may even find your insurance premiums drop.

Get out there

Why bother with a stuffy gym when you can exercise in the fresh air? Pounding the pavements is the cheapest, easiest way to improve your fitness levels (sign up to a local running club if you want company) and take every opportunity - just walking the kids to school helps.

Wimbledon may be over but there's a whole summer left for playing tennis. To find the nearest, free public court, try: tennisforfree.com.

Or you could join a fitness group that meets in the local park (see local listings), or devise your own Army bootcamp regime (for ideas see: http://www.army.mod.uk/join/20261.aspx) or how about a 'green gym'? Green gyms are run by conservation organisations and can include tree planting: see the Land Trust (thelandtrust.org.uk/community) and BTCV (formerly the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers on: http://www.2.btcv.org.uk/).

Exercise indoors

If you'd rather stay indoors, buying gym membership through group buying sites, or getting discounted vouchers offers can slash the price. Most managers can reduce the monthly rate, particularly if you have a friend or partner who would sign up to a cheaper rate too, so ask before you buy.

Council-run leisure centres and Further Education colleges offer cheaper deals. They tend to be pretty basic but so are the prices: rates start as low as £40 for 12 months membership at FE colleges or £2 a visit and leisure centres charge from £20 a month and many don't insist on 12-month contracts.

You could also get active at home, for free, grab the Dyson and log onto the NHS website, which offers calorie-burning ideas indoors. See www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/Pages/free-fitness.aspx. For the best prices on fitness equipment, see moneysupermarket.com's shopping channel or buy secondhand on eBay.com or get them free on sites such as http://www.freecyle.org/.

Pedal power

Cycling to the office can work out very cheaply, particularly if your employer offers a salary sacrifice benefit under the Government's Cycle to Work scheme - employers buy bikes, and effectively 'hire' them to employees. At the end of the hire period, the employee can buy the bike tax-free, which can save as much as 40 per cent of the cost of the bike. You can lose pounds from your waistline too: the average user burns 8,391 calories cycling to work each month, according to http://www.cyclescheme.co.uk/, a scheme provider.

Active kids

Until last summer, children under 16 were entitled to swim free of charge in council run leisure centres. The Government cuts mean this is no longer the case in many areas but some swimming pools do still offer free swimming for kids at certain times of day; check your local pool. There are lots of free fitness classes, including football, dance, and tennis sessions on offer this summer, see www.asda-sportingchance.co.uk/ for vouchers.


Eating healthily

Buying ready-made smoothies, raw juices and nutrient-enriched breads make for an expensive health regime. Buy ripe fruit and vegetables that are slightly past their best at knockdown prices at supermarkets, local greengrocers and markets and use them to make your own smoothies and juices. You could also whizz up the soft fruits with yoghurt and freeze them in lollipop moulds to give the kids a healthy treat.

Speciality loaves are often baked with linseeds for omega 3s, or fortified with selenium can cost as much as £4. Bake your own for a fraction of the cost there are recipes on: www.thefreshloaf.com/recipes/flaxseedwheatbread.

Reduce your premiums

Life insurance, private medical insurance (PMI) and health cash plans, all calculate your premiums depending on how healthy you are. Lifestyle factors such as weight, body mass index (BMI) and our habits can swing the costs up or down. In fact, one single factor, such as stopping smoking can cut life premiums by as much as 46%, according to a recent study.

Getting the right health and life policies can be tricky and many experts suggest getting advice. If you'd like advice about life insurance, you can speak to one of moneysupermarket.com's advisers by calling 0800 142 2023.

Claim what you're entitled to

It's not just young people and those over 60 who qualify for free prescriptions. Pregnant women and those on certain benefits and tax credits are also entitled, to check if this applies to you, see http://www.nhs.uk/. Some pregnant women and families on low incomes and benefits qualify for the Healthy Start scheme, which offers vouchers for fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables. For more details, see: http://www.healthystart.nhs.uk/.

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