- 3-Minute Article
- Mar 21, 2018
How to Stay Fit for Less
Explore six strategies to save on health and fitness.
Created in Collaboration with Kiplinger.
- How can I stay active after retirement?
- How can I save money on fitness?
- Where can I find activities and trainers that meet my needs?
The physical, mental, and emotional benefits of exercise are well-documented – keeping a fitness routine can help maintain your health and independence.1 Remaining active can also potentially reduce future healthcare costs, which will continue to be one of the leading expenses that retirees face.2
Currently, 1 in 4 adults meet recommended physical activity guidelines.3 Those guidelines call for:
- At least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity or an equivalent combination)
- Muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days per week
- Activities to improve balance for those age 65 and older
The good news is that committing to improve your overall fitness doesn’t have to be expensive. A range of exercise options delivers health benefits without sacrificing quality or putting a sizable dent in the budget. Here are six tips for achieving budget-friendly fitness.
Some recommended physical activities
Moderate-intensity aerobic activity
Walking or hiking
Bicycle riding (stationary or outdoors)
Working with resistance bands, handheld weights
Pushups, pullups, planks
Using a wobble board
Sources: How much physical activity do older adults need? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, January 10,2020; Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2018.
Many employer health insurance plans, and certain Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans, include a wellness benefit that may discount, reimburse, or include the cost of joining a gym, or help fund a home exercise kit. You can find out by checking your plan summary, calling the membership number on the back of your insurance card, or asking a member representative at the facility you choose.
Did You Know?
You may be eligible for a range of no-cost fitness benefits provided by SilverSneakers.
Some Medicare Advantage plans, and more than 60 health insurance plans, have partnered with the membership program to offer people age 65+ access to benefits like:
Gyms, community centers, pools
Fitness classes designed for seniors
Instructors trained in senior fitness
Healthy living discounts
On-demand video workouts
Rather than devote space and money to a piece of exercise equipment, head outdoors for a walk or bike ride. A relatively inexpensive investment like a fitness tracker combined with a daily step goal may help you achieve the recommended physical activity target.
If a facility offers an extended trial period, take advantage of it. An extended trial period allows you time to assess the mix of offerings, including any 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 is to 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.
Attending fitness classes and programs offered by local recreation centers, community centers, YMCAs, or colleges can be 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.
Hiring a personal trainer for one-on-one sessions can be expensive. However, you can recruit a few friends to participate in small-group sessions to make personal training more affordable. During each session, you’ll receive personalized workout advice and, as a bonus, the group becomes a built-in support network that can keep motivation and enjoyment levels high. When choosing a trainer, look for someone certified through a governing body such as:
- American College of Sports Medicine
- American Council on Exercise
- National Academy of Sports Medicine
- National Strength and Conditioning Association
Whether you miss suiting up for a game or want to try something new, you’ll likely have more time to devote to sports in retirement. There are many adult and age 55+ sports leagues across the country that can provide the opportunity to be active and social with your peers.
Saving money on fitness can help you maintain your health and put more money aside for other retirement pursuits. Discover more about the connection between health and wealth – and how physical and financial fitness can work together to support a better retirement.