Follow advice to get in shape on a budget

Shannon Brigham, Charleston Savvy Shopper

Let's face it, getting older isn't fun. And as we age, it becomes even more important to exercise regularly.

Fortunately, there is an entire industry designed to keep us in shape without eliminating precious cartilage or boring us stiff. But it can be expensive to work out.

Kate Forgach, a baby boomer consumer specialist for Kinoli Inc., a group of websites that help consumers save money, offers some healthy yet money-saving tips for inexpensive, low-impact workouts.

--Go it alone. It takes discipline to maintain your own workout schedule, but joining a health club isn't necessary. We tell ourselves paying for a membership will force us to exercise, but the thinning crowds after January attest to the fallacy of this concept.

--Don't end up with a pricey coat rack. More than 10 million Americans use elliptical trainers, and an equal number prefer a reclining stationary bike, according to Charlene Laino of WebMD. Both knee-friendly machines reduce stress on joints while eliminating the aching-back syndrome.

But a lot of people buy them and then use them as expensive clothes hangers -- so always buy secondhand or refurbished home exercise equipment. Also buy an MP3 player. You can find free shipping codes for Best Buy and other retailers on such sites as

--Stay limber. There are countless DVDs and CDs to lead you through yoga or Pilates exercises at home, but it's important to be selective. You want an instructor who gives detailed instructions, such as "keep your stomach flat," "push away from the floor," etc. You don't want to fall into sloppy habits, as this can lead to strained muscles without the desired impact.

--Get outside. It costs nothing to walk with a friend or alone listening to music that moves you. AARP reports overweight people who walk 30 minutes per day, five days per week, can reduce their risk of diabetes nearly 60 percent. Add weights to your arms and legs when walking and you'll increase your body strength while getting a good cardio workout.

Buy an inexpensive bike at a garage sale, thrift store or online. If you have shoulder or back problems, invest in high-rise handlebars and have a professional adjust the bike to your body shape and size.

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