We’re all painfully aware of the costs of being unhealthy: extra doctor visits, more prescriptions, higher premiums. But what about the costs of being healthy? From the gym membership to the fresh fruits and vegetables, all those healthier choices can add up fast. I’ve rounded up some of the more popular health tools and analyzed their cost, then compared that with what I do since my health budget is around $0.

Gym Membership – $660/year

bodybuilder-646482_1280Nationally, a gym membership averages to be about $55 a month. I don’t even shell out the $8 a month for Netflix, so that is way out of my price range. Luckily, Kearney has so much to offer in the way of recreation areas, beautiful hike/bike trails, and the new Outdoor Fitness Pad. I bought a bike at Salvation Army for less than a dollar about four years ago, and with regular maintenance it still performs like a champ. Plus, there are a million guides on no-gym workouts at home. This one’s a favorite of mine, though I prefer yoga.

Home Equipment – $20 – 500

Whether you have a menagerie of free weights, jump ropes, resistance bands, and other odds and ends (like me) or the entire Bowflex family in your basement, a home gym can add up quickly. I know there’s a lot to be said for “feeling the burn,” but that just isn’t my thing, so my 12 lb free weights have been plenty for the past few years. Some crunches, push-ups, and a little lifting has satisfied my workout needs.

Health and Fitness Apps – Free – $60/year

health appThere are more Android and iOS apps than people at this point, and it’s hard to sift through which ones are worth your time. While some offer neat features at a monthly rate, I’ve always stuck with the free ones. A few of my favorites are Moves, which tracks your steps in the background; Endomondo, which is great for tracking specific exercise, like cycling; MyFitnessPal, which is the go-to calorie tracker (and it syncs with tons of other apps to track even more great stuff); and Up by Jawbone (I have an UP band, so obviously I need the app).


Health and Fitness Magazines – $10-$20/year 

There’s a wealth of information you can get from magazines like Men’s/Women’s Health, Muscle & Fitness, and others, but there’s this thing called the internet that probably has even more information. Plus, you can get information specific to what you want to know. You don’t have to wait for the kale issue; you can just Google “kale.” The good thing about health magazine subscriptions is they can help keep you motivated. I used to subscribe to the art magazine Juxtapoz, and I know whenever it came in the mail I got super pumped up to get creative. Even if I was in a slump, it got me going on a new project. So, there is some merit to having a toolkit/reminder shipped to your house each month, but I wouldn’t prioritize it.

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables – $547.5/year

There’s no getting around it: you have to eat your fruits and veggies. You don’t want to get scurvy in 2015. I was expecting a huge disparity between garbage food and fresh, healthy fruits, vegetables, and proteins. According to Harvard’s School of Public Health, it’s about $1.50 extra per day, per person, to eat healthy. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but at almost $550 a year ($2,190 for a family of four), that’s a big chunk of some people’s budgets. If there’s one place I recommend spending the extra dollar, it’s this one. Forget the gym membership, the magazines, and apps. You can live without that. But you can’t live without healthy food.

Holden Armstrong

Holden Armstrong is the coordinator of Activate Buffalo County, a community health initiative that promotes active living and healthy eating as part of the Buffalo County 2020 Vision. Health resources, local events and activities, plus a lot of other cool stuff can be found at their website: ActivateBuffaloCounty.com. Activate Buffalo County is powered by Buffalo County Community Partners.