Ireland’s Guide To Money And Living

Fitness and finances


Fitness and finances

Are you finding it financially difficult to keep fit and healthy?

According to new research from Irish Life Health, more than half (53%) of Irish people believe that it’s expensive to stay in shape and in good health, rising to 59% for parents with children going to school. Among those surveyed, 21% believe that the price of gym memberships or health classes is the main obstacle to their better selves. More than one-third (39%) struggle to find the time to attend a class or workout at the gym.

However, it’s not all bad news when it comes to the state of the nation’s health and wellbeing. Some 84% parents said that they prioritise the health and fitness of their children, though it’s a struggle during the colder winter months. Getting the younger generation involved in team sports is one good way to help keep them active.

“The research from Irish Life Health shows that there’s wonderful intent around fitness with Irish parents, with a huge majority saying they strive to keep children fit and healthy all year round. I’ve always found team sports are an amazing way to keep fitness up as the camaraderie and support help keep spirits high all year round,” said Claire Molloy, the doctor who captained the Irish Women’s team at the last Rugby World Cup.

The BeneFits

The research was released in conjunction with the upcoming launch of Irish Life Health’s new BeneFit plans at the beginning of December, which will allow consumers to claim money back on sports club and gym memberships, children’s fitness classes, dieticians/nutritionists, sports massage, fitness wearables and life coach consultations. Consumers on the plan can claim back up to €250 per person.

“We are always looking for new ways to help people take steps to be healthy, and so we are delighted to launch these innovative new plans that support people to proactively manage their health,” said Irish Life Health MD Jim Dowdall. “Comprehensive hospital cover is of course a given with these plans, but we are delighted to offer our customers additional ways to embrace their health and wellbeing.”

Fit for less

If your budget won’t allow for a gym membership or fitness class, don’t worry – there are plenty other ways to get active and keep healthy without breaking the bank.

Alternative transport: If you currently drive or take public transport to work and don’t live too far away, consider walking or cycling. Walking can help tone your legs while cycling provides an overall cardiovascular workout, and you’ll save some money too! If you’ve got an old bike at home, check out your local independent bike shop as they’ll often repair it for less than the chain stores.

Get running: Regardless of your fitness level, with some hard work and determination you can be running races and feeling fitter in a matter of months. Couch to 5K is a handy resource for would-be runners – check out this free guide from the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). And all you really need is a decent pair of shoes.

Flight Climb: There are lots of everyday items in your home that can help provide a good workout, including your staircase, which can help to build your stamina. Start with walking up and down for several minutes before graduating to a jog and then a run. has got some useful tips.

Online help: A quick Google or YouTube search will reveal all of the free exercise videos you’ll ever need, from squatting and push-ups to yoga and aerobic exercises. And you won’t have to get all sweaty in front of strangers at the gym. Win-win! Check out YouTube channels blogilates and BeFit to get started.

When not writing about all things personal finance, You & Your Money's editor Conor Forrest enjoys reading, football and getting lost in an ocean of Wikipedia articles.