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Tips to stay fit without breaking the bank
Exercise » Thinking about a gym or a trainer? Check here first.

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Another option is to find a trainer that will train you for a half-hour, rather than a full hour.

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Buy more beans » A big part of the fitness equation is eating healthy. But truth is, fast-food items and cheap packaged foods often are less expensive than loading up on fruits, vegetables and lean cuts of meats, fish and poultry. The costs are multiplied if you’ve decided to buy organically grown food or free-range meat.

Still, one money-saving option is to substitute some of the red meat you buy with whole grains and beans and legumes, which are less expensive sources of protein.

Most importantly, don’t forget that exercising and eating right are the right things to do.

"Exercise is important in burning calories, developing muscle mass and preventing obesity," said Linda Kubly, program adviser for Wasatch Family Fitness centers and Stretch-n-Grow of Utah, which caters to children. "It’s also great for emotional health and well being."

Look for employer or health plan discounts » Your health insurance company or employer may offer a discount to certain gyms or offer nutrition assistance free of charge. Government employees and union members, among others, may also qualify for so-called wellness discounts.

Take the no-gym approach » The best way to save money on exercise? Don’t spend any, if at all. Grab a friend and go for a hike. Walk or bike to work instead of driving.

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"You can start by parking farther away from work so you have to walk a little farther. You also can take the stairs instead of the elevator," said Ashley Buck, exercise therapist at Intermountain Health Care. "Then, set some goals — smart goals that are measurable, attainable and realistic."

Austin recommends a set of $10 dumbbells, a mat and an exercise DVD. Or just go outside and move around.

"Being active is the key," Austin said. "That’s how you lose weight."

Getting your body moving also can strengthen the heart, lower blood pressure, prevent osteoporosis and it improves your cholesterol readings, Buck said.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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