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The Cost of Being Fit

23 February 2017

How much is Australia’s fitness obsession really costing?

To say Australia is a nation obsessed with fitness is an understatement.

With nearly two thirds of Australians choosing to exercise more than three times a week, it’s clear to see we are a nation focused on achieving our fitness goals.

But what’s the cost to these active-Aussies’ hip pockets?

The Suncorp Cost of Being Fit Report, the latest in Suncorp’s Cost of Living Series, found that Australia is a nation divided by their attitude towards exercise expenses.

In fact, our research found 65 per cent of Australians are cash conscious fitness enthusiasts declaring their active lifestyle comes for free, while 35 per cent spend $1,800 annually on keeping fit.

It’s perhaps no surprise the survey results revealed so many Australian’s don’t pay for their exercise. Walking and hiking is the most popular physical activity recorded by all Aussies, with 76.6 per cent of the population lacing up their shoes to pound the pavement as their exercise of choice.

The report revealed gym memberships as the biggest expense for the fitness spenders, with 91 per cent committing up to $150 per month for membership-related expenses.

Australian men appear to be more inclined to put money behind their fitness goals, spending more on memberships and fitness attire than women.

Either way, the report shows that active living remains top of mind for many Australians and debunks the myth that a healthy lifestyle doesn’t always have to be a costly one.

If you are looking to dial up your exercise program, without breaking the bank, here are Suncorp’s 10 tips to dial up your activity for less – both at work and at home:

During work hours

  1. Try and convert at least one meeting a day to a walking meeting and pound the pavement with your colleague while getting work done at the same time - #multitasking.
  2. Use a pedometer to count your steps and measure your activities each day. Set a daily step-goal, particularly if you’re in a desk job. You can use free apps like Pacer to count your steps and help motivate you to reach 10,000 steps each day.
  3. Make lunch time about more than just food, and squeeze in a quick walk around a block or two. It will clear your mind, and you’ll get exercise at the same time.
  4. On your way to and from work, try and hop off the bus a station earlier than you need to and reap the rewards of incidental exercise.
  5. If you have stand up desks in your office, try and move your work station every few hours to stay active.

After work hours

  1. Join a free organised fitness group like parkrun to stay motivated with a herd of other dedicated runners who tackle five kilometers each weekend.
  2. Build an exercise program using the free fitness facilities you find in most parks.
  3. Take a walk in the network of National Parks around Australia – you’ll be surprised how quickly five kilometres flies when you are immersed in nature.
  4. After dinner, instead of watching a TV show, escape screen time with a walk around the block.
  5. Rather than sitting down to watch TV, throw down a towel or a yoga mat and take yourself through some basic stretching flows.

Putting these practices into action is only part of achieving your health and fitness goals – staying accountable in the long term is much harder.

If you don’t struggle with the activity but the motivation, try adopting Suncorp’s tips for remaining accountable to goals (both physical and financial) this year.

Stay Motivated

  1. Consider attaching a manageable monetary element to your goal setting (if you are in a position to do so). This could be financial commitment to exercise, like a gym or app membership. Or, you could incentivise your results with a reward for meeting milestones. For example, every kilo you lose, you put away $50 for something special.
  2. Have a plan. Write it down and make sure you plan for the challenges that might tempt you to stray. Plan your daily schedule around your goals to ensure you stay on track.
  3. Break it into achievable actions. Large goals can be overwhelming, but if you break them into smaller actions, you’ll have more chance of meeting them.
  4. Pair up with a friend or buddy – and share your goals and successes with them.
  5. Check in on your success. Set a weekly phone reminder on Sunday evenings. Reflect on your week and set goals for the next week. On the last day of the month, write down all of your achievements. It will motivate you to keep going.