Improving Fitness in Five Easy Steps

Physical and Fiscal Fitness

The connection between physical and fiscal fitness has been addressed multiple times here at RetirementSavvy. I noted in Manage Your Fiscal and Physical Fitness that smoking is the most obvious and significant example. Not only are there numerous health consequences associated with smoking, it is an expensive habit. Money used to buy cigarettes cannot be used to build an emergency fund or contribute to retirement plans such as 401(k)s or IRAs. To be certain, smoking is a sure-fire way to negatively impact your physical and fiscal well-being with one habit. Change that single habit and radically improve your physical and fiscal well-being.

In the recent post, Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em … or Not, a good friend shared the story of what he and his wife – recently diagnosed and treated for lung cancer – formerly spent on cigarettes …

“Leah and I [Brad] both started smoking at about 15-years old. When we started smoking the cost was less than $1.00 per pack, when we quit 10 months ago, after about 35 years, the monthly cost was $600 – $700.”

Food for thought. What would the money spent on cigarettes over the last 35 years be worth today if invested and a modest gain of 3 – 5% was realized annually?

 

As I noted, smoking is obviously a biggie. But what are some other, perhaps less significant, ways to improve your physical and fiscal health? I have identified five easy actions you can perform, or habits you can modify, on a regular basis to improve both. While none is necessarily a game changer in itself, taken together, they can begin the process of changing your life. As the old saying goes, “the longest journey starts with the first step.”  Over time you will identify other little actions you can take, additional little steps, you can combine with these to propel you on your road to improved overall well-being.

Five Actions You Can Take Today

  • Push-ups. No need for an expensive, or even inexpensive, gym membership. These babies are free. Years ago, in junior high school, my wrestling coach taught me an easy way to knock out a couple hundred a day without giving it a lot of thought. During the last hour of watching television each night, knock out a chosen number (e.g. 10, 15, 20 or 25) of push-ups on each commercial break. It is typical for an hour-long program to contain five commercial breaks. Therefore, if you drop and knock out 20 push-ups during the last hour you watch TV each night, you can ring up 100 push-ups daily vice sitting back doing nothing while commercials you are probably ignoring drone on.
  • Sit-ups. Similar story to push-ups. No need for a gym membership. These babies are free. After you have turned off the TV and are preparing to call it a night, before you pull back the covers, drop down next to your bed and knock out 25 or 50 sit-ups. Your first act in the morning? You got it. Roll out of bed and knock out 25 or 50. Sit-ups, among the best ways to end and begin your day.
  • Water please. Have you ever bemoaned the fact that when you eat out, soft drinks – and particularly alcohol – have a significant mark up. You pay a lot more for the privilege of drinking soda or alcohol in restaurants. Order water instead. In the vast majority of restaurants – in the States anyway – water is free. Moreover, you probably don’t drink enough throughout the day. Water has numerous health benefits and soda has zero. Do like I do and order water in the restaurant and have a nice glass of red wine when you get home.
  • Split the entrée. The wife and I do this about 25% of the time we eat out. Anyone older than 25 or anyone that has seen the documentary Super Size Me knows that portion sizes have grown tremendously over the years. Simply put, we eat way more than we did in the past … and for many of us, more than we need. Unfortunately, people often confuse quantity with value. Just because you can buy a 128 oz. soda at Circle-K or 7 Eleven; or order a massive entrée that only costs $12, does not mean you should. Splitting an entrée usually means you will be eating an appropriate portion and you will spend about half as much.

 

  • Walk. Of course the environment you live in – proximity to desired services and establishments, and weather – will have a bearing on your ability to walk as much as possible. The wife and I are fortunate in that we live close to a mall and other shops; and living here in Southeastern Arizona means we can walk comfortable outdoors most of the year. If you’re walking that means you’re not burning gasoline. As an added bonus, our local government has done a nice job of recently expanding the walking/bike path which covers a significant area. Even if you can’t walk a great deal outdoors, take advantage of the opportunities to walk during your normal day. Consider your work day. Most people do everything they can to park as close as possible to their work entrance; and I don’t know about you, but I work in a two-story building and I’m amazed at the number of co-workers that will take the elevator when moving between floors. Alternatives? Park as far away from the entrance as possible and avoid elevators when possible and practical. A good walk does the body good and can save you a little gas.

Study Finds That Walking Could Be Better Than The Gym | Huffington Post

You’re only limited by your imagination in finding easy, subtle ways to improve your physical and fiscal well-being.

James
 

James retired in 2005 after serving 21 years in the United States Army. During the latter part of his career, James' interest in personal finance was piqued based on his own experiences and observations of the way most Americans plan – or more accurately, fail to plan – for retirement and the difficulty many face in starting the process. His most valued education has been lessons learned from personal experience and through conversations with smart, savvy friends.

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