Each year, National Walking Day kicks off on the first Wednesday of April. This day is the beginning of a month-long celebration, started by the American Heart Association, that is meant to encourage you to walk for at least 30 minutes a day.
Whether you walk to school or walk to work, walking is one way to lose weight. In addition, for many people, walking goes hand in hand with eating healthy as one good health choice often leads to another. Certain lifestyle changes can really add up to financial savings. Here are eight ways you can save money by being healthy and walking.
1. No More Gym Membership
You already know the health benefits of walking, but what about how it helps your finances? With all that walking, consider getting rid of your expensive gym membership and start saving money. Savings can range anywhere from $10 to $100 a month when cutting a gym membership from your monthly budget, said Ben Glaser, features editor for DealNews.com.
2. Avoid Pricey Health Bills
One of the benefits of walking is that it’s a simple activity that can help improve your health, reduce the risk of diseases and conditions and more. It only takes 30 minutes of walking per day to have an impact on your health. With $3.8 trillion being spent on healthcare each year on the U.S., according to Forbes, it’s not difficult to see how being healthy can add up to savings on health bills.
3. Fewer Transportation Expenses
Living in a bigger city where public transportation reigns supreme is another way to save money. Trae Bodge, smart shopping expert and TV commentator at TraeBodge.com, said she can save almost $20 walking to all meetings and then back to Penn Station where she catches a train home. “I work from home, but travel to NYC frequently for meetings,” said Bodge. “In a given day, I might have six different meetings or events to attend, so I can save a lot of money by walking to each one rather than paying to take the subway, a cab or an Uber.”
4. Less Money Spent on Gas
For drivers in smaller cities, another one of the benefits of walking is it can help you save on gas when destinations are nearby. The average price for a gallon of gas in the U.S. is above $2 a gallon right now, and the average miles-per-gallon for a car sold in the U.S. last month was about 25 — excluding older cars — Glaser said. So for every 25 miles you walk instead of drive, you save $2.
5. No More High Parking Fees
If your car has to stay, and walking to work is not an option, parking smartly and walking further once at a destination is another great idea. “I live and work in Raleigh[, N.C.,] and spend a lot of time downtown,” said Courtney Barbee, marketing director for The Bookkeeper. “Parking is very limited, and premium spaces can be pricey. I save money by parking in the cheaper, less convenient parking decks and walking a few blocks to my destination, instead of paying for the more expensive spaces out in front of the building.” Barbee said walking from a cheaper parking spot saves her roughly $15 per week.
6. Lower Auto Maintenance Costs
With all the savings walking provides on gas, parking and other modes of transportation it might be worth ditching the vehicle completely. The annual cost of maintaining and operating a car was $8,698 in 2015, according to the most recent stats available from the American Automobile Association. “It would probably be lower now, due to falling gas prices,” Glaser said. “If you can completely get rid of your car, that’s about $700 [in savings] every month.”
7. Cheaper Date Nights
“Go walking with your significant other rather than hanging out in a bar,” said John Z. Wetmore, independent TV producer of Perils For Pedestrians TV, a program about people who walk. “Not only will you save money, but it is a much more natural way to interact than talking over a drink.”
Depending on your mood, you can walk down “Main Street” and people watch, or go for a walk through a park or along a river for a touch of nature, he added. Another idea is to pack sandwiches for a picnic and save money on a restaurant, Wetmore said. Depending on the activity, walking on a date night could save as little as $10 on two drinks or $50 for a couple of entrees.
8. Spend Less on Groceries
When walking is your main mode of transportation to the grocery store, it’s easier to save on groceries. If you have to carry everything for a mile or two, you’ll only buy what you absolutely need. Plus, by carrying it all, your arms and legs will get a good workout, too.
Just remember that being healthy and saving money can go hand in hand. And if you need yet another reason to take up walking, experience weight loss, encourage healthy eating and save money: World Health Day 2016 takes place on April 7 this year, the day after National Walking Day. So, lace up those shoes and get moving.
Keep Reading: 10 Ways to Survive Rising Health Care Costs