A healthy heart is a healthy mind.

While plenty of research and studies have been done in relation to exercise and a healthy (or peaceful) mind, how does the average person achieve that on a limited budget or low interest in exercise?

Below is a list of my favorite cardio exercises that are very inexpensive with no need to join a gym or invest in a personal trainer.


Jumping rope


Outstanding cardio activity, portable and can be done almost anywhere. Depending on how fast your rope repetitions are, you can burn 5-15 calories per minute. In addition to improving your cardio, it’s challenging and engaging. For the most part, your out-of-pocket expense is $11 for a professional boxing rope and $65 for a great pair of supportive athletic shoes.

• Equipment: Rope, athletic shoes and open space (home driveway/garage or playground hard court).

• Maintain good posture: Shoulders back and down away from your ears, looking straight ahead while relaxing your arms.

Once you have mastered the ease of rope jumping, try timed intervals, single leg, marching or running in place.


Jogging, running


With a small investment in running or cross trainer shoes, you can build your cardio, endurance and stamina by simply running out your front door to a distance that is challenging but not overwhelming.

Jogging is a perfect exercise for the beginning runner to build a healthy heart, stay athletically motivated and not spend a lot of money on equipment or gym memberships.

Once you’ve managed jogging I suggest the following:

• Join a running group or buddy up with a like-minded, committed runner for training.

• Ease into a local or hometown 5K and once you feel comfortable with your time and distance, move up to a 10k.

• If you feel competitive, enter a biathlon or even triathlon to hone your running skills.

While sprints run a higher risk of injury than jogging or running, they are more challenging mentally and physically. Most of us haven’t sprinted since high school, but sprinting will wake the quick-twitch muscles we don’t use and burn more calories. Light stretching is a must before sprints and an absolute must after a spring workout.




Unlike running or jogging where you can go anywhere, sprinting requires more of a commitment by traveling to your local high school or university track. While you can run sprints in cross-trainers or running shoes, I suggest making a small investment in sprinters spikes. Once you have sought out the local 400m track, begin with the following:

• Track spikes ($40-$75).

• Jog a few laps (400-800M) for a warm-up.

• Jog the corners and sprint the straight-aways.

• Begin with 10-100m sprints with a 60 second rest between.

• As you advance, five-200m sprints with two minutes of rest between.

• Advanced four-400m sprints with three minutes of rest between.

NOTE: All sprints are done from the “blocks,” but most schools don’t have these available to the public for liability issues so you’ll start from a forward crouch position and lunge forward as if you were coming “out of the blocks.”




Swimming is easily the best full-body workout you could ever do. This exercise provides a perfect balance between anaerobic and aerobic activity without any impact or risk of injury, but don’t drown; that’s worse than an injury. Your equipment investment is a suit, goggles, cap (most public pools provide kick boards and buoys) and, lastly, a swim pass at your local pool or YMCA.

I’m sure you’re not out to break Michael Phelps’ records, but you are out to beat the clock both in the pool and time management. Swimming provides the following:

• A great anaerobic workout by building muscle with water resistance.

• Sheds fat with the high aerobic interval training.

• Improves endurance by controlled breathing.

• Builds stamina by length or distance of laps.

• Builds personal confidence as interval times lower.

• Stretches and loosens all muscles.

Most local pools offer a swim club/team that anyone can join to improve time, technique and keep your competitive spirit sharp.


T. Roe’s fit bites


True Food Kitchen is my new favorite find at Santa Monica Place. With easy access on the ground floor at the corner of Second Street and Colorado Avenue, both their lunch and dinner menu is loaded with super healthy low-calorie items. Since I’ve always preached small portions, a few of their starters make a great filling lunch and won’t break the bank or caloric limit. A good example is the shiitake and tofu lettuce cups and daily market vegetable soup. Both items are filling, less then 485 calories each and surprisingly inexpensive.

If you’re looking for something a little more filling, their panang curry is gluten-free and comes with a choice of protein (chicken or shrimp) or go vegan by adding tofu.


Thomas Roe has been an American Council on Exercise certified personal trainer for more than 12 years and holds a degree in endurance nutrition. Learn more at nogymfitness.com or call (310) 666-3592.

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