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  • Writer's pictureiCare Community Magazine

What You DON’T Need to Get Fit or Healthy in 2021

New Year’s resolutions, especially when they involve health or fitness , always seem to drive people to buy things -- as if we all didn’t already buy enough stuff for the holidays. People spend money on diet plans, vitamins and supplements, fitness equipment, workout clothes and any other item they believe will propel them to the fit version of themselves they want to be this year.

Yet, come February or March, many of us sit around and wonder what to do with the apparel, devices and gadgets we bought to help with the goals we’ve already given up on. This year, save some money by forgoing these six things you absolutely don’t need to get fit or healthy in 2021.

You don’t need expensive supplements to get healthy.

Supplements don’t work unless you do. Fat burners, muscle builders or any other fitness-enhancing supplement aren’t the fast track to success -- they’re the fast track to emptying your wallet. If you’re planning to start exercising, you don’t need to dump hundreds of dollars on pills and powders. All you need to do is eat real food (fruits, veggies, whole grains, protein and healthy fats) and eat enough of it to support your activity level.

If you buy any supplements, buy something with proven benefits, such as whey protein or creatine monohydrate. You might also benefit from a personalized vitamin pack, but the only way to know for sure is to get a blood test to check for nutrient deficiencies.

You don’t need high-tech gym equipment to get fit.

No one needs a Peloton. There, I said it. No one needs a Peloton, a Mirror, a Tonal setup or a FightCamp configuration. These smart gym devices are cool, sure, and they provide effective workouts run by good trainers. They also offer the convenience of in-home exercise, but they are not necessary.

If you can afford this type of equipment and you think it’ll help you reach your goals, go for it. But no one should feel like fitness is cost-prohibitive. No one should think they don’t have access to fitness just because they don’t have access to expensive, high-tech gym equipment.

You can get just as good a workout on your floor with your own body. Depending on your goals, simply going for daily walks, starting a running routine or trying at-home yoga or pilates is enough. If you do want some home gym equipment, kettlebells, dumbbells, resistance bands and even household objects are just as effective as digital options.

You don’t even need a gym to get fit!

Raise your hand if you’ve signed up for a gym membership in January of years past, gone for a few weeks and then stopped going but continued to bless the facility with your unused membership for several months.

Save that money this year and just work out from home. With a good workout app and 30 minutes a day, you can get fit in the comfort of your living room, which is great for busy parents, people who’d rather stay safe from COVID-19 at home or those who simply hate going to a gym and exercising in the presence of other people.

Just don’t forget to clean your home gym every so often, and be careful of these common mistakes people make when exercising from home.

You don’t need fancy workout recovery devices to recoup.

Go for a leisurely walk. Stretch. Do some yoga or wiggle around on a foam roller. Don’t buy a rent-priced workout recovery device because you think that’s what it takes to soothe sore muscles. These high-tech gadgets -- massage guns, compression boots, vibrating foam rollers, infrared-infused bedsheets -- are interesting and they do have some benefits, but the science on these types of devices is limited.

Plus, for the average person, manual recovery modalities work just fine. Mobility work will improve your squat more than percussive therapy ever will; walking will flush out lactic acid and encourage blood flow more than compression therapy ever will.

Also, don’t underestimate the power of good sleep and good nutrition on muscle recovery. Those far-infrared pajamas won’t do anything for someone who only sleeps 5 hours a night. Master the basics first, and don’t try to replace them with technology.

You don’t need the latest and greatest athletic wear.

Cute workout clothes can certainly make you feel more motivated to work out. I know I’m always excited to exercise in a new workout set. However, your body works just the same in an old T-shirt as it does in a bright new tank top.

It is true that certain fabrics make for better workout clothes, but even dreaded cotton will do the trick if you don’t mind the inevitable moisture buildup. What I’m saying is: Don’t let something as simple as clothing be a barrier to your health and fitness goals. Your heart, lungs, brain, muscles and joints don’t care what you’re wearing. They’re all just happy you’re moving.

If you do want some new workout clothes, go for brands with less expensive but still top-notch items.

You don’t need a water bottle to tell you how much to drink.

If you’re going to start paying attention to your health in 2021, you definitely need some sort of water vessel.

Hydration is inarguably a key factor in overall health and fitness. What you don’t need is a smart water bottle to tell you how much to drink.

My reasoning for this: No one really knows how much water people need to drink, anyway. If you drink enough water to pee frequently and avoid symptoms of dehydration, you’re doing fine.

You also don’t need a filtered water bottle or a UV-C self-cleaning water bottle unless you’re concerned about water quality in your area. A plain reusable water bottle will suffice and save you some money.

What do you need to get healthy and fit?

Since you don’t need any of the above to meet your New Year’s resolutions, you may be wondering what you do, in fact, need to improve your health in 2021. You really don’t need much -- getting fit is more about what you do than what you have.

To best support your health, you need:

• 30 to 60 minutes, three to five times per week, for exercise

• 7 to 9 hours of restful sleep each night

• Healthy meals and snacks, ideally with ample produce and protein

• Adequate water intake

That’s it! Everything else is extraneous; anything beyond the basics above isn’t critical for improved health. Certain items help more than others (a pair of dumbbells can’t hurt, for example), but a solid plan and good discipline will do more for you than any pricey fitness product.

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