Your Wallet Shouldn't Be The Only Thing Getting Slim

How to recession-proof your workout.

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That's right, I said it! The "R" word. And no matter how politicians try to spin it, the fact is, we're in one. Nationwide people are scrambling to stay employed, afloat and are tossing non-essentials off their fiscal boat. And it's not just a financial toll; there's the psychological impact of an economic downturn. Nothing like rising prices and a round of layoffs (which you mercifully survived) have you searching for solace in a pint of Chubby Hubby. But before stress kills you, it will make you fat.

And before you label exercise a luxury item and throw fitness under the bus, take a moment to objectively evaluate your budget. Sure we all need to cut expenses, but not by sacrificing your physical and emotional well being. Besides, a contraction in spending doesn't have to mean an expansion in your waistline. Staying active can be your coping strategy during stressful periods, and you don't need a fancy gym membership or expensive equipment to workout. There are plenty of ways to get your fitness on the cheap.

The Rundown:

To keep a healthy body and mind, you'll need to do a variety of exercises: Cardiovascular activities that get your heart rate up, weight-bearing workouts to keep bones strong, core/abdominal exercises for spinal support and good posture and finally a stretching regime to keep muscles flexible and injury free. If this sounds like an impossible time-suck, there are ways to make exercise easier by incorporating it into your lifestyle. And anyway, it's non-negotiable, since good health is essential to living a good life.

Walk

One of the simplest ways to get started is to walk. Somewhere, anywhere, but leave the car at home, get off the train and hit the pavement. Make it fun and invest in a pedometer for about $20. Then set a goal to walk a certain number of steps per day.

Walking counts as cardio and is also a weight-bearing activity. And the price is right, FREE. Actually, walking will end up paying you by saving on gas and public transportation.

"It's like winning the 'Trifecta,'" says walking enthusiast Adrina Banks, a banking VP in credit risk operations. She uses walking to de-stress, stay fit and save a little cash. "Right now the financial industry is incredibly uncertain, and almost everyday there's another negative forecast, so twice a week I put away my Metro card and walk home with two co-workers over the Brooklyn Bridge. By the time I get to my doorstep the work pressures have evaporated and when I get on the scale I see the benefits of that three mile walk."

If you don't live a walkable distance from your job, you can walk part of the way. One of Adrina's walking buddies lives in Long Island, and she walks with them over the bridge before hopping on her train.

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