Fit body, tight budget

We'd all like a slim, toned body, but we can't all afford gym membership fees. However, there are lots of low cost ways to exercise and some of them are even free.

Girl running along the street

Leggings - the cheapest running gear around

Walking

The most obvious form of exercise we can all do anytime anywhere is low impact, so the risk of injury is minimal and all you need is a comfortable pair of walking shoes. You can have a laugh walking with a mate or you can fit it into your daily schedule for example, walk part of the way to work. On a note of caution, always tell someone where you are going and do not walk on your own after dark. The same goes for running.

Jogging

Jogging and running are higher impact, so make sure you have a proper pair of running shoes. Again it’s better with a friend, or a running club. If you are new to running start by jogging for one minute then walking for one minute and repeat for half an hour. After doing this three times a week for a week or two, increase to two minutes running, one minute walking. Keep increasing the amount of running at a comfortable level. This is much like the NHS’ Couch to 5k programme. Then you could join parkrun (free 5k runs every Saturday), then run a 10k, then a half marathon, then.. then.. then…

Cycling

Look out for adverts for secondhand equipment and you can pick up an almost-new bike cheaply. You will need to make a one off investment in safety stuff, like a helmet and reflective stripe. Cycling is also a handy mode of transport and can save you a fortune in fares or petrol. You can do your weekly shop at Sainsburys with a rucksack then cycle home, intead of splashing out on taxis.

Team sports

If you enjoy team sports like netball or football check out what is happening in your area. Motivation shouldn’t be a problem when you know you’d be letting the team down if you don’t turn up and the cost is minimal.

Dancing

If, like many of us, you wouldn’t be seen dead dancing in public, you can still dance like a maniac while the calories fly off in the privacy of your own home. It’s great fun and there is no embarrassment factor!

Trampettes

Trampettes are like mini trampolines. Claire, a fitness instructor in Staffordshire, swears by her trampette, which she bought from Argos for £17 three years ago. “It’s a good way to get into exercise without getting scared off by over-exhaustion or boredom. I have my own music on (loud!) and have a bit of a disco on it. I jog on it for at least 30 minutes but have quite often got carried away and spent over an hour dancing up and down like a flea on a dog!”

Videos

There are plenty of exercise videos on YouTube, from yoga and pilates, to strength exercises and intense cardio. Just type in what you’re looking for and you’ll be flooded. It can be hard to know who to trust, but the most popular videos are your best shout. Experiment with a few YouTubers and see who works for you.

Sticking to it

Selim Arieff, personal trainer for Get Motivated, says, “the key to success is to find something you enjoy. Otherwise there is no way you are going to stick at it.” Try to exercise three to five times a week for 30 to 60 minutes. You will get a better all round workout the more different activities you do.

Next Steps

  • Log into Your Voices and share your favourite apps to boost your mood and health on our campaign Get Appy.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

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Updated on 29-Sep-2015