Although I realise that the cost of living in general has increased over recent years I don’t feel that living a healthy lifestyle needs to place us under financial strain. A recent study from the British Medical Journal shows that is only has to cost an extra $1.66 a day to eat healthy as opposed to unhealthy1. This is less than a cup of coffee. In addition, the amount of money spent in the fitness industry totalled around $1.3 billion last year in Australia alone2. So many of us it seems are spending a lot of money trying to get fitter. So what are some tips to living healthy on a budget in today’s society?
Tip #1 – Shop Smart. Food items labelled as ‘health foods’ can be expensive and may not be that good for us. An example of this is gluten-free foods – many of which are refined white foods. The best healthy foods out there are the humble fruit and veg. Shop around and find the best deal. Visit your local green grocer or local farmer’s market and buy frozen items if needed to save on the cost of fresh e.g. frozen berries. Also, buying essential items in bulk can save on cost e.g. nuts, rice, beans, rolled oats. Look around for specials and stock up on pantry staples e.g. beans, tinned fruit etc. Remember to stick to the perimeter of the supermarket as much as possible which is where the healthier, unprocessed foods and often less expensive items, are kept.
Tip #2 – Move More For Less – You don’t need to spend a lot of money on getting fit. The best form of exercise is one that you enjoy and can stick to consistently. Walking for example has been shown to have numerous health benefits. We are spoilt for choice on the Gold Coast with beaches, parks, and walking paths aplenty. A great resource is the Active & Healthy Gold Coast website which outlines free or inexpensive activities for the whole family.
Tip #3 – Be Proactive. The best way to avoid spending a fortune on our health is to look after ourselves. Statistics show that it costs an unhealthy person $1300 a year more on healthcare than someone who is healthy3. It doesn’t take much to be healthy but we need to be proactive about healthy eating, getting some regular activity, maintaining a healthy body weight, and having regular health checks.
By following the above simple strategies we hopefully can all enjoy good health without the added expense.
Remember that better health is through simple habits!
1 – BMJ, 2013. Do healthier foods and diet patterns cost more than less healthy options? A systematic review and meta-analysis. http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/3/12/e004277.full (Accessed Feb 2014)
2-Gyms & Fitness Centres in Australia: Market Research Report. IBISWorld. http://www.ibisworld.com.au/industry/default.aspx?indid=658 (accessed March 2014)
3-MJA, 2013. Cost of Overweight and Obesity in Australia. https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2010/192/5/cost-overweight-and-obesity-australia (Accessed Feb 2014)