Have you decided that you're going to get fit this year, and then looked at the price of gym memberships and thought 'maybe not!'? Don't worry that you're doomed to stay unfit just because you don't have the spare cash. There are plenty of easy ways to get fit without joining a gym …
If you've got a bike, use it! Cycling is a great way to get fit and save money on transport. It's ideal for shorter journeys to work or to run errands. To be safe, stick to cycle lanes or quieter roads. If you don't own a bike, look for cheap rentals, pick up a second-hand bike, or join a bike-sharing scheme like the one in London. tfl.gov.uk
Walking is often overlooked as a way of getting fit. It's not only free, but it could even save you money. A gentle stroll won't cut it in the fitness stakes, however, so walk at a fairly brisk pace. Try getting off your train a stop earlier, or walking from one store to another instead of getting in the car.
If you automatically use the elevator in your apartment building or office, start taking the stairs instead. Obviously if you work on the 20th floor it's a bit too much to walk all the way. But you can begin by walking a couple of floors and taking the elevator the rest of the way. Build up slowly to walking more floors, and try walking up as well as down!
4. Playing in the Park
If you have a garden and young kids, get outside and play energetic games with them. Ball games or tag are ideal, and will help you burn off some calories. Alternatively, take them to the park if you don't have a garden. Kids need to let off steam, and many lead a far too sedentary life these days, so let them get some exercise and get fit yourself at the same time.
5. Improvised Gym
You don't need expensive gym equipment to shape up; you can easily turn items you already have into exercise kit. Budget fitness freaks use cans as substitute weights, or you can fill plastic bottles with sand. And if you want to do stretches, use a folded towel or a belt to loop around your foot. Here's some ideas for equipment you can make at home greatist.com.
6. Fitness DVDs
Invest in a good fitness DVD and you'll have a workout program right at hand whenever you want. If you find it hard to motivate yourself to exercise outside the home in winter, DVDs will mean that you've got no excuse. Choose one for your fitness level and style, or you'll soon lose interest in following the program.
Technology also offers many ways to keep fit on a budget. There are many free fitness apps that will help you track how far you've run, how many calories you've burned off, or recommend an exercise program. Check out myfitnesspal.com for dozens of apps to choose from.
So you can get fit and stay fit, even if you don't have a lot of cash or resent spending money on a gym. Do keep yourself motivated and work out regularly though, as it's easy to be lazy about exercise when you don't have to head to the gym. What's your health and fitness goal this year?