I’d hardly call myself a fitness fanatic. In fact, if you saw some of the foods that make up my diet you might think I’m the exact opposite. That being said, I do get my steps in on a daily basis, and with the help of technology, I’m able to funnel that right into my digital life, ensuring that my caloric intake rarely exceeds my caloric output and that my weight stays in check.
To capture my fitness vitals, I previously used an expensive Fitbit Ionic. It played music, monitored heart rate, worked in water, and even made payments. After using the device religiously for over a year, I realized only a few of its features were all that valuable to me: heart rate monitoring, step counting, a moderate level of water resistance, and more than a day’s battery life.
So, when my Fitbit finally went out of warranty and bit the dust, I decided it was time to turn to a more frugal fitness approach.
1. Get a Good Bargain on a Fitness Tracker
Chinese manufacturers have inundated the US market with cheap wearables over the last three years, and it now makes very little sense to spend more than $100 on a fitness tracker.
Amazon has numerous hard-to-pronounce brands, but a few have been in the market long enough to warrant a second look when it comes to purchasing a fitness tracker. Below is a quick feature and cost comparison of the smartwatches and fitness trackers I had on my shortlist, all backed by solid reviews:
|Tracker||Cost||Heart Rate||GPS||Water Resistance||Battery|
|Xiaomi Mi Band 4||~$40||Yes||No||Swimproof||20 Day|
|Huawei Band 3 Pro||~$70||Yes||Yes||Swimproof||3 Day|
|Amazfit Bip||~$80||Yes||Yes||IP68||30 Day|
|Amazfit Verge Lite||~$120||Yes||Yes||IP68||20 Day|
Depending on your needs, one or none of these may be right for you, but the point remains: you don’t need to spend a lot to get a tracker that can tell you everything you need to know.
2. Find Ways to Work Fitness Into Your Everyday Life
Once you’ve got your tracker or smartwatch, you don’t need to change your lifestyle significantly and suddenly become a marathon runner. Introduce a few extra steps into your routine on a daily basis – it’s easier than you think.
Here are a few ways I’ve found to add steps (and thus calories burned) to my routine:
I live in a very walkable neighborhood, specifically across from a park, that enables me to get in a good walk each day. Better yet, the other side of the park offers some great restaurants and entertainment, so instead of hopping in the car to get to where I need to go, I can take a brisk walk through the park and burn a few calories while I’m at it.
Run To Explore – Not to Explode
I run on the weekends, but don’t do so competitively and I don’t have a route in mind when I start. I simply look for an area of the city that I have not yet explored but is within running distance. I take off and eventually find my way back to where I started. The run acts as both a way to stay fit and to explore the city.
Take the Stairs
At one point I went six months at work without taking an elevator, which was impressive considering I worked on the 8th floor of a 19-floor building. It may take time to build up your tolerance for taking the stairs more than 2-3 flights, but most vertical workplaces have a solid stairwell that you can use as your primary travel conduit.
Outside of work, keep an eye out for other locations (airports, shopping malls, etc) where you can use the stairs to get to where you want to go instead of using the escalator or elevator. It might take an extra few seconds, but oftentimes the stairs are the road less traveled and wind up getting you to where you want to go quicker.
Park Far Away
One of my biggest pet peeves is seeing drivers battle for the one parking spot near the front of the store. This is especially frustrating when plenty of great parking spots are available just a few steps away. Not only does waiting for parking waste time, but it also eliminates a great opportunity to get a few extra steps in.
Stand at Work
There’s mixed research on whether standing desks really help, but I have gotten accustomed to standing at work. Originally, when I first started doing this a couple of months ago I gladly welcomed a meeting that allowed me to sit throughout its duration, but slowly I was able to slowly build the stamina to stay upright all day at work and not crave a meeting that gives me the opportunity to sit down.
3. Try Out Cheap & Free Fitness Apps
Once you’ve got your cheap, but effective, fitness tracker and have got your step count up, it’s time to step it up to the next level and gamify your workout.
There are a number of great fitness tracking applications available that can help you level up through gamification and free swag.
For starters, the Fitbit app I used allowed you to collect badges for a number of different things (stairs climbed, steps walked, etc). While I’m now no longer in the Fitbit ecosystem, plenty of other options are available.
Although the jury is still out, I just started using Sweatcoin to track steps and get free swag. I’ll save the review of that for a later post, but suffice it to say there is no shortage of apps to download on your phone to help kick things into high gear.
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