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How to Stay Strong in a Weak Economy

One of the first things most of us cancel during tough times is a health club membership. If you’re one of those people but still want to keep in shape, you have lots of alternatives. A couple of years ago, I interviewed NY-based Austrian fitness expert Stefan Aschan for an article I was working on and he’s been a great source of fitness and nutrition tips ever since. I asked him to share some of his tips for working out when money’s tight. And later this week I’ll be posting another article on inexpensive ways to keep in shape.

Do check with your doctor before you try any new exercise regime and if you’re working out at home or by yourself, take care and precaution. It’s never budget smart to get injured and end up with a huge doctor’s bill.

Here are Stefan’s tips and you can also visit his Web site at www.stefanaschan.com

Use your own body resistance, no equipment needed. Using gym equipment often means working out with the same movement patterns and resistance with each exercise, which can mean minimal results from not enough exertion.

Take advantage of existing furniture and architecture. Use a solid chair as a bench for single leg step-ups and triceps dips and a low sturdy box as a step for a cardio workout. Try the stairs at your house or at the nearby park or school for interval training. Working on an incline with your own bodyweight will increase your supply of oxygen needed and usage of muscle fibers, enhancing your coordination ability toning and strengthening your body in a new and different way. In short, a change of routine is from benefit to see better results.

Try resistance bands, which are not only cheap, but are also light to carry and provide different resistances. You can work out in your living room, outside, or at the park or beach. Possible workouts include biceps curls, lateral shoulder lifts, overhead triceps extensions, lateral side steps, and back rows. Worried about resistance? They come in various strengths. And for definition results use a lighter band and increase your repetition up to 30.

Replicate the gym vibe and the shared motivation. Play motivating and upbeat music to get you pumped and keep you going. Do you miss the motivation of having other gym goers around you? Invite a friend over and workout together – the friendly competition will push you harder and help you both reach your goals. If you need more motivation, purchase a home workout program DVD, which gives you new ideas and guidance and shouldn’t cost more than $30.

Try a trek. Whatever the season, if you dress appropriately, a brisk walk, run or sprint outside can be the perfect amount of activity for an efficient low-impact workout. Try hiking, biking or rollerblading to switch it up while still re-connecting with nature. Up the ante with a Nordic trekker, specially designed poles that engage the upper body during any of these outdoor activities, and can get your heart rate 17 beats per minute higher than with normal walking.

Soak and soothe sore muscles. If you miss the sauna or steam room, take twigs of rosemary, a cinnamon stick and 4 teabags, like blueberry, green or peppermint tea and place them in a hot bath. Let them soak for 15 minutes before diving in to soothe muscles and unwind after a good workout.

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