The average gym membership costs hundreds of dollars per year. If you live in a big city, your gym membership could cost you even more than that.
But it’s not necessary to shell out big bucks to get fit. In fact, there are plenty of ways to get in shape that don’t require expensive equipment at all. So save your hard-earned cash—and time spent packing gym bags, commuting to the gym, and waiting for equipment—with these five free workouts you can do nearly anywhere.
Walking is the ultimate low cost workout. All it requires is a pair of decent walking shoes and everyone already knows how to do it.
It may seem too easy to walk for exercise, but don’t overlook walking as one of the best free workouts. Done with proper technique at the right pace, walking can burn serious calories. A 160-pound man walking at a relatively fast pace can burn 90 calories per mile.
Many doctors recommend that people who aren’t used to getting exercise ease into an exercise program by walking. That’s because walking is a natural, low-impact form of exercise.
If you’ve been inactive, start slowly with your walking program. Start off by walking as far and as fast as you can, even if it’s only a short distance. Try to add five more minutes at a comfortable pace each time you go walking.
Whatever your level of fitness, try monitoring your heart rate when you walk. If you aren’t working hard enough to burn fat, try increasing your pace and the difficulty of your route. Check your heart rate to determine if you’re within the zone where you’ll burn fat. (See heart rate resources at the end of this article.)
If you have steps in your home, you have another free workout at your fingertips. Running steps improves cardiovascular endurance, tones leg muscles, and burns calories.
Beginner step runners should concentrate on good form when climbing the stairs. Maintain a straight back posture while you swing your arms. Your arms should be bent as you pump them from pocket level up to your head and back. Without bending forward, step on each stair and propel yourself up the staircase.
As you descend the steps, support yourself on the railing while moving at a moderate pace. You may be tempted to rocket down the stairs, but use caution. As you complete several reps of stairs, your body will fatigue and you’ll need to descend slowly to avoid falling.
After you’ve practiced step running for a few weeks, you can increase the difficulty of your workout by skipping every other step as you run.
Have a pool in your backyard, or a lake nearby? You can take advantage of another excellent free workout. Swimming can burn between 900 and 1500 calories per hour if done at an intense pace. If you don’t have a free place to swim, you may be able to obtain a relatively inexpensive membership to use a pool at a local college, community center or gym.
The amount of calories you’ll burn swimming depends on how experienced you are at swimming. Experienced swimmers have good technique and are therefore more efficient in the water. On the other hand, inexperienced swimmers are likely to expend more energy as they adjust to the sport and, therefore, burn more calories.
That’s not to say that seasoned swimmers won’t get good workouts. The key to using your pool for at home workouts is to monitor your heart rate to be sure you’re working at a pace intense enough to get the workout you desire. When you’re done swimming, don’t forget that you can use the side of your pool to do “deck-ups”, like push-ups, that will tone your arms.
If you’ve got a jump rope lying around your home, you can use it to burn up to 1,000 calories per hour.
A jump rope will run you anywhere between $2 and $30, depending on what type you purchase. Thin vinyl speed jump ropes are among the best options for your at home workouts because they’ll help you swing the rope quickly for maximum cardio benefits. The cardiovascular workout you’ll get from jumping rope is well worth the cheap price tag of a rope.
If you already lift weights at home, you can incorporate a jump rope as part of interval training to keep your heart rate up between weight sets.
Who doesn’t have a bicycle in their garage? Instead of letting your bicycle rust over, take it out for a spin to burn around 600 calories per hour.
Start bicycling at a moderate pace, alternating the moderate pace with intense cycling for five-minute intervals. You may even choose to multi-task by riding your bike to do errands while you get your workout.
While bicycling provides great cardiovascular benefits with relatively low impact, it does come with some risk of injury, depending on where you ride. Investing in the proper safety gear will make your rides more comfortable and safe.