20 ways to get healthier for free
Dip into our smart batch of strategies to stay happy and healthy (at no cost!).
--By Jacquelyne Froeber, Health.com
Borrow (don't buy) your next fitness DVD
Join the local library -- for the workout DVDs. Most libraries have a big selection, the perfect antidote to a boring (and pricey) gym routine. And because the key to sticking with exercise is to keep it interesting, you can switch it up (cheaply) as often as you want.
Free stop-smoking help
If you're trying to stop smoking, there are many low-cost or free ways to get help. If you're a New York resident, you can call the New York State Smokers' Quitline at 800-784-8669 to get a free 2-week starter kit of nicotine patches or gum, plus coaching and support.
There are many other resources and quitlines, such as 1-800-QUIT-NOW if you don't live in New York.
Quitting will not only save you money but also lower your risks for heart disease and cancer.
Get a free skin checkup
The Skin Cancer Foundation provides free full-body skin cancer screenings conducted by local dermatologists during its annual Road to Healthy Skin Tour. Check SkinCancer.org for availability in your area.
Download a free health calendar
Get a free calendar from the National Women's Health Information Center. It lists recommended health tests, reveals surprising symptoms of serious health conditions, and offers important advice on how to read drug labels and get a second opinion.
Surf for deals
FreakyFreddies.com and Freemania.net have free-by-mail samples and coupons for items like hand sanitizer, bandages, deodorant, tampons, and toothpaste. Ebates.com gives cash back for purchases at stores like Drugstore.com, Bath & BodyWorks, DERMAdoctor.com, GNC, Kiehl's, Nutrisystem, and many more. CouponCraze.com has discounts for anti-allergy bedding, humidifiers, and dehumidifiers. And RetailMeNot.com features coupons for contact lenses and supplements.
Get a free radon test
Radon, an odorless natural gas present in many homes, is the leading cause of lung cancer deaths among nonsmokers. Check the availability of free or low-cost test kits in your state.
Click off the weight
Studies show that interactive online-weight-loss programs help people drop pounds and maintain weight loss, too. Visit CarbLovers.com -- the official site of The CarbLover's Diet -- for recipes, tools, and advice from experts. To get diet counseling, try SparkPeople.com. And to access calorie-counting tools, visit CalorieCount.about.com.
Strike a pose
Try your Downward Dog for free -- or pretty cheap -- thanks to the Internet. Every week, Yoga Today streams a free, one-hour class. (Downloads cost $3.99.) Also, mark January on your calendar: That month there's usually a Yoga Day USA, when yoga centers around the country offer free classes. Why yoga? It hikes flexibility and strength, provides help for relieving stress and controlling weight, and lowers risks of heart disease and sleep problems.
Many health clubs and gyms are willing to cut you deals or give you free passes to try their facilities. Bally Total Fitness, Gold's Gym, and 24 Hour Fitness offer free seven-day trials. Remember: Everything is negotiable. And once you're a member, train with a buddy to cut trainer costs in half, or sign up for 30-minute training sessions instead of hour-long ones. Bonus: Besides being cheaper, the shorter workout may move faster and be more intense.