5 Fun Ways to Get Strong Without Spending a Fortune

Green fitness is a way to improve your health while minimizing your environmental impact. These tips combine green principles with frugality: saving money, getting strong, and reducing waste - all at the same time. You may want to consider other possibilities that are not quite as cheap or as green, such as buying used equipment. Most in-home fitness stuff (treadmills, stationary bikes, elliptical trainers, gym sets, etc.) is never used again after the first six months, so it ends up in garage sales, online classified sites, and second-hand sports stores. Look for good quality items (read consumer reviews first) and test them carefully to make certain they are still in working order.

1. Think of your dog as a treadmill with fur.
Chances are that your dog could use an activity upgrade as much as his or her owners! Getting serious about dog walks will be good for you and good for your pet. If you are both out of the shape you would like to become, start slowly and take it easy. A couple of shorter, vigorous walks (20-30 minutes) may be more effective and easier to fit into your day. No dog at home? No problem! Walk a friend’s furry little treadmill - or contact your local animal shelter or pet rescue group.

2. Become a regular library patron.
No, reading is not a fitness activity (unless you read while pedaling a stationary bike). However, libraries are an incredible resource for information that gets used over and over again (a great way to reduce waste). Check out your local library for fitness information - DVDs, CDs, tapes, books, and magazines - which are all free (a great way to save money). To turn a library visit into a serious strength builder, walk or bike to the library with your books and other items in a backpack.

3. Sign up for a class from Extension or your parks department.
Terrific fitness bargains are offered through Montana State University (MSU) Extension and your community recreation department. Classes, such as yoga and belly dancing, as well as MSU’s Strong Women and Small Steps to Health and Wealth™ (descriptions at www.msuextension.org/nutrition/) are offered for as little as $20-25 for several weeks. For the current offerings, call, visit, or go to the web site of the parks and rec department or county office of MSU Extension.

4. Turn your home into a thrifty gym.
It’s no fitness myth: You can get strong at home without fancy equipment or expensive club memberships. All it takes is a minimal investment (hand weights, a mat, and maybe a stability ball - remember to check garage sales) and some items around the house, such as chairs and a couple of stairs. For simple instructions, use the Strong Women programs, online at www.strongwomen.com/, in a book from your library, or in an MSU Extension class. Minimal cost, maximum strength!

5. Get good with a resistance band.
Resistance bands are probably the most versatile, flexible, and portable fitness equipment on earth. They take up minimal storage place and use no electricity (making them more environmentally-friendly than exercise machines). Best of all, they are cheap: less than $10 for one band or under $20 for a set with several sizes. Most bands come with simple instructions or you can find dozens of videos for strengthening every part of your body on You Tube www.youtube.com

The programs of the MSU Extension Service are available to all people regardless of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or family status. Issued in furtherance of cooperative extension work in agriculture and home economics, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Dr. Douglas Steele, Vice Provost and Director, Extension Service, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717.

Montana State University Extension Service is an ADA/EO/AA/Veteran's Preference Employer and educational outreach provider.