Woman jogging outdoors

Staying Healthy on a Budget

It’s more important than ever for us all to try and lead a healthy lifestyle. And as Quids in! proves, we don’t have to spend loads to stay fit and healthy…

1. Think before you eat. There are plenty of ways to eat well and save money. Planning your meals for the week is one way to avoid wasting food, as is buying frozen vegetables and meat. Try making meals go further by adding veg to meat dishes to bulk them out, and re-using your leftovers – maybe for lunch the next day. Also try cooking ahead and freezing things. Eating five portions of fruit and veg a day is also key to staying healthy.

Thanks to the Healthy Start Scheme, those on Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Child Tax Credit (with a family income of £16,190 or less per year), Universal Credit (with a family take home pay of £408 or less per month) can claim vouchers every week to swap for milk, fresh fruit and veg. You also qualify if you are under 18 and pregnant, even if you don’t get any of the above benefits. You’ll also get free vitamins, which will help give your body the extra nutrients it needs.

2. Why you need to stay fit and healthy. It may sound dramatic, but exercising can reduce the risk of diabetes, many types of cancer, heart disease and strokes. Did you know there are more than 9000 premature deaths a year that result from obesity? In fact, if you are obese it can be more dangerous than smoking. This means that it’s really important to eat healthy food and try and do 30 minutes of exercise every day. Just as important, exercise can make us feel happier too!

You don’t need an expensive gym membership, just spend time walking, borrow a bike and go cycling or go jogging round the park – the fresh air and exercise will make you feel better. Consider walking or cycling rather than taking the bus, or combine exercise with part time work, such as a paper round. Why not go to the park with family and friends and play football?

3. Buy a season ticket. If you have to buy regular medication you should consider getting a prescription pre-payment certificate, which works like a season ticket. It covers all your fees for a set period. You can buy a three month one for £29.10 or a year long certificate for £104. You can pay for it in instalments. If you get two prescriptions a month for a year you’d save £70. Order yours by calling 0300 330 1341 or click here.

4. Give your brain a work out. Why not exercise your mind as well as your body? It will help improve your mood and relieve stress. If you’re worried, take your mind off things for a bit by volunteering. There are plenty of organisations who are looking for volunteers – you can find your local centre here. Or you could try doing a part time course from home – take a look at Learn Direct to find out more.

5. Get fit at home. You can keep yourself in shape simply by keeping your house clean and tidy! Window washing, ironing and hoovering are all great ways to keep your heart healthy while burning plenty of calories. It also helps you get the housework done too! For example, washing the floor is a great way to tone your arms and tummy – and all for free!

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