7 Smart Ways to Invest in Your Health

If you invest in your health and live a healthy lifestyle, you could not only prevent diseases, but also save a ton of money along the way. However, investing in your health can feel daunting. Gym memberships can be expensive, healthy food feels like it costs an arm and a leg, and it's hard to know which investments will pay off and which ones will just suck your money down the drain. Here are some ways you can invest in your health without breaking the bank.

1. Comfortable running shoes

Get yourself fitted at a running store and buy the pair of shoes that fits best. If you really want to save, note the brand and the size you're looking for and check to see if it's cheaper online. Paying the store price is a good way to return the favor of the work they do sizing you, so check to see if they'll match the price you found online if it's cheaper.

Then set yourself a running goal and establish a regular routine. It costs nothing to run through your neighborhood or on the local high school track. Make it more fun by running with a buddy or joining a running meetup. (See also: The 5 Best Women’s Running Shoes)

If running isn’t your thing, try walking. Again, get yourself fitted for a proper pair of shoes and establish a regular routine several times a week. As your fitness improves, you can increase your distance. And walking is another activity that doesn’t have to cost a dime.

2. Incorporate exercise naturally

If don't have much time for workouts each day, find ways to incorporate little bits of exercise into things you already do. Take the stairs, park in the back of the lot, clean your house regularly — these adjustments add up and keep your body moving. It won't cost you a dime to park farther away or to take the stairs whenever possible, but it will cost you some time. It's still an investment that's absolutely worthwhile. (See also: 6 Apps That Pay You to Workout)

3. Walk or bike to work

If it's feasible for you, consider walking or biking to work (at least when it's warm enough to do so). This saves you money on gas and vehicle maintenance, and it also helps you get exercise in.

A bonus reason to walk or bike to work is so you can incorporate a time during the day when you can de-stress. Focus on what's in front of you, on the road and on your body, and the stress and strain of daily life will pass right by. (See also: 9 Ways Life Is Wonderful When You Swap Your Car for a Bike)

4. Buy seasonal produce

Produce can be expensive, especially if you occasionally let it sit too long in your fridge and it goes bad. Instead of buying whatever is in the store, though, try to buy veggies that are in-season in your area. Seasonal veggies are usually cheaper than imported ones, since there's less packing and transit involved in getting them to you. This also gives you a chance to try foods you don't always eat, which makes eating healthy interesting. (See also: 5 Offseason Foods That Are Destroying Your Grocery Budget)

5. Shop the frozen aisle for fruit and veggies

If you don't like what's available seasonally, or you live in a place where winters are long and there's not much growing around you, shop the frozen fruit and vegetable aisle. New flash freezing procedures allow this produce to keep most of its nutrients when frozen, so you won't have to skimp on taste or quality. You can even get convenient single-serving or single-meal packs that microwave quickly, so there's never an excuse to go without your veggies. (See also: 15 Veggie Noodle Dishes That Will Make You Forget About Pasta)

6. Purchase meat from local ranchers

Buying meat straight from the farmer is a practice that has grown in popularity over the last few years, to the point that it's available at weekend farmers markets in most major metropolitan areas. When you buy from a farmer, you can often choose the cuts of meat you want and how you want it packaged. If you're looking for organic and/or grass-fed meat, you can usually find that, too. Since you pay a single amount per pound, this is often cheaper than buying meat in the store, especially if you like steaks and roasts.

7. Get regular checkups

Going to the doctor is a pain. I get it. You can't always see the doctor right when you need to, and god knows those waiting rooms deliver on their name. But not going at all can mean missing some major health problems when they can still be easily treated or cured. Many health insurance plans cover preventive care completely, or at a higher rate than other treatments. It's important to see your doctor and dentist once a year, in order to make sure your health is solid. (See also: 10 Reasons an HSA Is Actually Worth Having)

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