The 5 Best Fitness Investments You Can Make

A good percentage of your life will be dedicated to making or preparing for tough decisions. Mostly, those decisions involve properly allocating resources — time and money. You will pick and choose career paths that enable you to maximize both of those resources, which you can then use at your leisure. When it comes to health and fitness, the game is similar. We only have so much that we can dedicate to our health, and we want to get the best possible outcome¬†while giving up as little as possible.

For most people, that means fitting your fitness and health goals into your budget. Getting or staying in shape can be a costly venture. So, with the time and money you do have, you’ll want to allocate them for the best possible outcome. That means buying shoes that cost $50, not $300, so you can afford a gym membership. It’s all about striking a balance.

Because most of us need to make tough decisions about allocation, you’ll want to, at the very least, make sure you have your bases covered. If health and fitness are important to you, you’re going to want to make sure that you’re investing in the things that matter and that will make a difference — not flashy accessories. The question is: What will make the biggest difference?

We’re determined to answer that.

Overall levels of fitness and health are determined, in large part, by three things: sleep, diet, and exercise. With those as cornerstones, figuring out where and how to spend your money, for the best possible health outcome, becomes a bit easier. But if you were to boil it down to five individual purchases, or budget items, the following should be on your list.

1. Food

Leafy greens help improve fitness

Take your diet very seriously. | J. Kenji

Diet may be the biggest factor in overall health. What you put into your body largely dictates what you’ll get out of it (you are what you eat, as they say). For that reason, you need to start taking your diet very seriously, and stop shoveling garbage down your throat just because it’s cheap or easy. Learn to cook. Buy quality foods or quality ingredients. Reallocate some money away from certain things, and put them toward your grocery budget. And learn to cook, even if you need to take lessons — it’s an investment that will pay off for the rest of your life.

2. Shoes

workout shoes

Invest in a good pair of shoes. | Dodds Shoe Co.

You’re not going to get any exercise in without the most basic of training equipment, and the most important of all is footwear. Yes, you can find a pair of running shoes for $25, but if you spend some extra money and get a quality pair, it’ll make a huge difference. If you’re a runner, you know — you need to buy a good pair of shoes. Cheap pairs will blow out, and may even lead to injury. Invest in a solid pair, and don’t cut corners.

3. Bedding

bedding in a bedroom

A comfortable bed helps improve overall fitness. | iStock.com

You’ve heard it before: You spend a third of your life in bed, so why don’t you buy a good one? If you really want to sleep well, or improve the quality of your sleep (which, experts tell us, is incredibly important to overall health), then you should buy yourself some quality bedding. A lot of people, guys mostly, don’t give much thought to bedding. We can sleep on a couch — it doesn’t matter. But give your sleep cycles and bedding some serious consideration. Sleep is a cornerstone — and one you’ll be happy you invested in as you get older.

4. Gym membership

barbel weights in gym for fitness

Get a gym membership. | iStock.com

If you’re eating well, sleeping well, and have a good pair of shoes, the next thing you’ll need to access is equipment — be it weights, machines, or treadmills. Get yourself a gym membership, as you’re not going to be able to afford all of that stuff, even if you have the space to store it. Membership costs vary wildly, but several chains offer them at very competitive prices (you can even ask your employer to cover it!). Get yourself a membership and take advantage of it. Lift and run to your heart’s content.

5. Jump rope

man jumping rope

Need an easy on-the-go tool for working out? Use a jump rope. | iStock.com

A jump rope? This really doesn’t quite fit in with the other entries on our list, so you’re not crazy. But if you want to invest in a piece of individual equipment, which is truly going to give you the biggest bang for your buck, a jump rope is going to do it. You can give yourself a hell of a workout with a jump rope, and you can do it right in your living room or backyard. It’s an easy way to burn calories and get the blood pumping, and you can find them for less than $10.

If you truly want the most effective and worthwhile piece of equipment for your money, splurge on a jump rope.