When we think about working out, usually a pricey gym membership or an expensive piece of equipment comes to mind. But getting in shape doesn’t have to break your budget. There are plenty of low-cost and free ways you can exercise.
Here are some ideas to help you get fit for less.
Make the outdoors your gym
Go for a walk. Any walking you do is beneficial, but to get a great cardio workout you might choose power walking, which is how I lost weight. Aim to get in at least 30 minutes a day of exercise if you can.
Find ways to fit in more walking throughout your day. Walking the dog is a great exercise that benefits you both. At work, take a mid-day walking break if you have a desk-based job.
Take up running. Whether going solo or with a group, running is an excellent workout. For some extra motivation, try a couch-to-5k program and train for an event.
Hike a trail. We have so many beautiful trails here in North Carolina, perfect for a scenic hike with family or friends. Check out our Explore NC section for great ideas on places to go.
Ride a bike. Chances are, you have a bike in your garage. Dust it off, and ride around your neighborhood, or take it to a trail. A paved one such as the American Tobacco Trail is ideal.
Work out at home
Use what you have. Is your treadmill currently being used as a clothes rack? A weight set tucked somewhere in the basement? Take a moment to shop in your own closet, as they say. Then create a space at home for your workouts.
No dumbbells? Use canned goods, water bottles or anything with some weight that you can hold.
Do no-equipment exercise. Bodyweight exercises build strength without equipment. Think push-ups, jumping jacks, sit-ups, planks, lunges, etc.
Buy inexpensive equipment. Dumbbells, resistance tube with handles, stability ball, exercise mat, jump rope, and a medicine ball are low-cost items and don’t take up much space.
Look for used equipment. I’ve found many quality items at Play It Again Sports, Goodwill and other thrift stores, yard sales and online classifieds. You might also offer to buy a friend’s unused gear.
Do workout videos. Exercise DVDs and streaming services YouTube, Netflix, and Amazon Prime Video provide countless options. Just be sure to do a workout from an instructor who is certified, and modify exercises if necessary.
Utilize resources in the community
At the library, you’ll find fitness DVDs, music to motivate your workouts, and exercise books. Some libraries even offer yoga and other classes.
Check with your local recreation and parks department or senior center for low cost or free exercise classes and gym facilities.
YMCAs and Jewish Community Centers are nonprofits that offer financial assistance for memberships and may be an affordable option for gym, pool and exercise classes.
Seek out parks with outdoor fitness equipment. For example, Graham Regional Park features an outdoor “gym” — exercise equipment stations located around the ¼ mile walking track.
Make the most of everyday opportunities
Housework and yard work can be a workout. Shoveling snow, raking leaves, pulling weeds, and mowing the lawn are vigorous activities. Even cleaning the house counts as exercise. So does playing with your kids.
Your stairs, driveway, and yard can be used for exercise, aside from chores. Challenge yourself to go up and down the stairs a certain number of times a day. Run or walk laps up and down your driveway or around the perimeter of your property.
Take advantage of your benefits
Get discounts with Blue365. The Blue365 program is a benefit available to all Blue Cross NC members. With Blue365, you and your family can get discounts on a wide variety of fitness, health and lifestyle products, and services — including gym memberships!
To participate, you need to enroll in Blue365 on the website. Joining is easy, and there is no charge to do so. Once you sign up, you’ll have immediate access to all of the deals online.
Blue365 includes the following, and much more:
- Fitness Your Way by Tivity Health — For one low monthly fee, Fitness Your Way offers access to nearly 10,000 different gyms. Visit any participating fitness location—anytime, anywhere — as often as you like.
- Gym Network 360 — Get discounted gym memberships at thousands of fitness centers and specialty studios nationwide through the GlobalFit gym network. Participating brands include Gold’s Gym, 24 Hour Fitness, Anytime Fitness, LA Fitness, and Curves, as well as yoga, Pilates, CrossFit, and others.
- Discounted name-brand fitness trackers and monitors, including Fitbit.
Workplace wellness programs. Many companies offer a wellness program as an employee benefit. Check with the human resources department at your workplace to see if your employer offers wellness benefits such as fitness classes or discounts.
What you should splurge on
There are many ways to cut corners and make fitness free or close to it. But there is one area I advise that you not skimp on, and that is your foot health. I highly recommend that you invest in a good, supportive pair of athletic shoes.
Having experienced a very painful, long-lasting case of plantar fasciitis in the past from wearing cheap shoes because they were cute or inexpensive, I learned the hard way to never skimp on footwear. Prevention is the best medicine for a foot injury.
If you can only buy one thing, make it a good pair of shoes that fit well and provide excellent support. Your feet, and your body will thank you.