How to Stay Fit for Less | Brighthouse Financial
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  • 3-Minute Article
  • |
  • Mar 21, 2018

How to Stay Fit for Less

6 strategies to save on health and fitness – and help reduce medical expenses in retirement.

Smiling, standing middle-aged woman featured in an article about staying fit for less

Created in Collaboration with Kiplinger.

The physical, mental, and emotional benefits of exercise are well-documented, and keeping up a fitness routine can help maintain health1 and potentially reduce future medical expenses2 – one of the only cost categories that tends to increase during retirement years.3

Currently, 22.5% of adults of all ages – and only 16% of those ages 65 to 74 – meet recommended physical activity guidelines. Those guidelines call for 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity plus muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days per week.

The good news is that committing to improve fitness doesn’t have to be expensive. A range of exercise options deliver health benefits without sacrificing quality or putting a sizable dent in the budget. Review these six tips for achieving budget-friendly fitness.

Start with insurance benefits

Many employer health insurance plans, and certain Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans, include a wellness benefit that may discount or reimburse the cost of joining a gym, or help fund a home exercise kit. Find out by checking your plan summary, calling the membership number on the back of the insurance card, or asking the member representative at the facility you choose.

Dodge the big investment

Rather than devote space and money to a piece of exercise equipment, head outdoors for a walk or a bike ride. A relatively inexpensive investment, like an electronic fitness tracker, combined with a daily step goal may be enough to achieve the recommended physical activity target.

Consider drop-in and per-visit options

If a facility offers an extended trial period, take advantage of it. That allows time to assess the mix of offerings, plus take a test run of fee-based, drop-in classes that help keep costs low – especially if a daily trip to the gym isn’t feasible. Another potential cost-saving strategy: Calculate whether a pay-as-you go plan, an option more widely available at boutique gyms or studios, would cost less than investing in an unlimited membership.

Look local

Fitness classes and programs offered by local recreation centers, community centers, YMCAs, or colleges can be fun and affordable, as well as a great way to connect with people who have similar interests. These community-based classes also tend to offer competitive rates and flexible terms and hours.

Share a trainer

If hiring a personal trainer seems like a luxury, recruit a few friends to split the cost. Small group sessions make personal training more affordable, you’ll still receive personalized workout advice, and the group becomes a built-in support network that can keep motivation and enjoyment levels higher than solo workouts will. Search for personal trainers in your area who hold senior fitness specialist or medical exercise specialist certifications at the American Council on Exercise.

Take up a sport

Whether you miss suiting up for a game or want to try something new, now can be a good time to devote more time to sports. There are many adult and age 55+ sports leagues across the country that can provide the opportunity to be active and social with peers.

Saving on fitness delivers dual benefits: It helps maintain your health and puts more money aside for other retirement pursuits. Discover more about the connection between health and wealth – and how financial and physical fitness can work together to support a better retirement.

Kiplinger has an in-house content studio, which reports on investing, retirement planning and wise money management for its partner organizations, providing trustworthy advice and guidance for their readers.