How’s that New Year’s resolution coming along after 7 months? You know the one. The lose-weight-and-get-in-shape promise you made without much of a plan in place to see it through.
If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Almost one third of Americans resolved to do better with their health this year, so we can only guess that millions of people have fallen off the wagon of their good intentions by now.
Sometimes that’s because getting in shape feels like an impossibly expensive goal. When you see the price of some of the fanciest organic or gluten-free foods at the grocery store, or check out the rates at your local gym, it can be enough to ruin your household budget. So should you give up being solvent or give up being skinny?
Trick question! You don’t have to shell out mad cash to get fit. There’s plenty you can do to step up your fitness plan and exercise for free.
Getting in Shape Saves You Money
Not only can you get in shape for free, but doing so can lead to even more savings down the road. When you’re in better physical shape, your overall health improves. This means that you’ll spend less money in the long run on doctor’s visits, medication and other interventions that come along with having chronic illnesses like diabetes or heart disease. You may even get a discount on your health insurance premiums if your employer offers a wellness program that incentivizes maintaining a healthy weight.
And if you really embrace a healthy lifestyle, you may find yourself saving on food at the grocery store if you trade in expensive processed foods or even meat for healthier alternatives. Are your legs strong enough to bike to work instead of drive? You could save a whole lot on gas, tolls and car maintenance!
4 Free — and Fun! — Fitness Tips
Ready to get started? Try these totally free ways to work out to keep your budget and your waistline trim.
1. Use Your Feet
The easiest way to start any exercise routine is to take a walk. Start slowly if you need to by taking a simple lap around the block at first. Set a goal of just 10 minutes per day, and work up from there. All you need are your regular sneakers and maybe a jacket for cool days, but you already own those, right? A brisk, half-hour walk will burn over 100 calories and give your heart the cardiovascular workout it needs to stay strong.
When you’re ready, you can step things up to start jogging or even training for a 5K. You don’t need a coach when there are so many online tools to help you design a training schedule. Lots of people get hooked on running after that first race, and it’s a great sport for penny pinchers to get into if you’re not interested in fancy shoes or accessories.
Running not your thing? Step things up by taking a hike. Being out in nature is hugely rewarding, and the more hills, the better the challenge for your leg muscles. There’s sure to be a beautiful free trail near you.
2. Get Zen at Home
Yoga can be an expensive habit, but there’s no rule that says you need a fancy set of workout clothes and an expensive studio membership to get the benefits of a regular yoga practice. Let your smartphone be your instructor by downloading a yoga app and following the routine in the comfort of your own home. Start with the easiest moves and work your way up.
If you’re a total beginner, you can look up tricky poses ahead of time by doing a Google search or finding a YouTube video to show you how it’s done. With thousands of yoga videos and routines available online, you’ll never get bored. Bookmark your favorites so you have a library of go-to workouts for a rainy — or stressful — day.
3. Ride a Bike
If your bike is gathering dust in your garage, pump up the tires and take a ride! Cycling isn’t just for kids, and it’s a truly great form of exercise that can speed up your fitness goals: You’ll burn at least twice as many calories as walking for the same amount of time.
Research has shown that riding a bike also does wonders for your mental health. Exercising outdoors improves your mood with all that fresh air and sunshine, and you’re also likely to enjoy improved sleep — a crucial ingredient for reducing stress and feeling good. If you can ride to work, you’ll also save time by turning what was once a soul-crushing commute into a free exercise routine — the ultimate in multi-tasking.
4. Take Advantage of Free Stuff
Is there a fancy yoga studio or hip Crossfit gym in your neighborhood that’s always handing out flyers? Read them! Lots of smaller local gyms offer a free session or trial period, so take advantage. There’s no rule that says you have to sign up, but you could enjoy a fun workout that’s totally new to you. Think outside the box to be on the lookout for offers from a local martial arts dojo, skating rink or dance studio to inject some fun into your routine.
You can also score some exercise equipment on Craigslist or Freecycle. People are always giving away things like free weights, a stationary bike or a treadmill, so snatch up the things you’d like to try when they become available. If you decide it’s not for you, you can always sell it to someone else to score a little extra cash!
Getting fit by establishing a new workout routine doesn’t have to be hard — or expensive. When you get creative and focus more on your own actions than the equipment or fancy gear that the glossy magazines have convinced you to buy, you can take your health into your own hands. Fitness doesn’t have to cost a dime, but a renewed commitment to an active lifestyle will pay you back in more ways than you can count. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and get moving!