Frugal Fitness
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Frugal Fitness

Joining a gym or hiring a trainer can be expensive. But don't let cost get in the way of your workout. There are plenty of inexpensive - and even free - ways to exercise every day.

The government recommends that most adults get 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity each week. They also suggest strength training two days per week.

Help make your exercise goals by being ready to work out at any time. Try to keep exercise gear in the car or at work. You may be able to squeeze in a 10-minute workout when you least expect it.

Whether at home, at work or on the go, here are some ways to fit in exercise on any budget:

At work

  • If you commute on public transportation, try getting off the bus or train a stop early and walk the extra distance.
  • Instead of a 10-minute coffee break, go for a 10-minute brisk walk. Invite a friend to keep you company.
  • Walk with a friend on your lunch break.
  • If you can, take the stairs at work. Every little bit counts.
  • Some companies have exercise programs, gym discounts or even their own gyms. Ask around and take advantage of company rates or exercise plans.
  • Walk down the hall to speak with a colleague rather than calling them.
  • When you are on the phone, stand up to talk, rather than sit in your chair.

At home
Rent or buy an exercise video. There are a variety of inexpensive options in stores, libraries and online. There are also exercise programs on commercial television.

  • If you live in an apartment building with a workout room or a pool, take advantage of their facilities.
  • Walking is free. Try going outdoors if the weather is nice. Walk around a park, at a school or on local trails. If you have a dog, take him or her with you for company. When the weather is bad, try walking indoors at a mall or on a track.
  • Instead of spending money on free weights, use items around the house. Try cans of soup or small bottles of water. If you want to use two weights, make sure the items are the same weight.
  • Buy an exercise band for strength training. They can run between $6 and $20 apiece. There are free online workout instructions for the bands.
  • Mow the lawn with a push lawn mower to increase your physical activity.
  • Turn on some music and dance. Have fun on your own or invite friends and family to join you.

Around town
At your child's soccer or other sports game, try walking up and down the sidelines while you watch.

  • If you own a bike, use it to run errands, visit friends or commute to work. If you don't, try checking out a second-hand shop for deals.
  • Look out for nature and outdoor events in your area. Go on a nature hike in a local forest or park.
  • Take your kids to the playground and join in the fun instead of watching them play.
  • In parking lots, try to park far away from the entrance and walk the extra distance.
  • Check out your local community or religious center. They often have reduced-cost or free exercise events.
  • If you are a golfer, walk the course with your bag rather than ride on the cart.

Always speak with your doctor before starting a new exercise or increasing your normal workout routine.

By Jennifer Mitchell, Editor
Created on 02/26/2013
Updated on 02/26/2013
  • Let’s Move. Find places to get moving outside.
  • National Institute on Aging. Be physically active without spending a dime.
  • United States Department of Health and Human Services. 2008 physical activity guidelines for Americans.
  • United States Department of Agriculture. Tips for increasing physical activity.
Copyright © OptumHealth.
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