Monday, 2 January 2017

So you think you can't afford to exercise?

I used to say this to myself when I was younger that "exercise is expensive" and something I couldn't afford.

This is one of many excuses people give for not exercising and it's a really bad one.  Here are 14 top tips to keep down the cost of exercise.

Make exercise incidental

Exercise doesn't have to be high impact, it can be as simple as walking or cycling somewhere, so, if you have a journey to make, for example, going to a local shop a mile or two away, why not walk rather than drive?  Not only is it better for you and saves you money but better for the planet.  Also if you're considering switching to a bike to cycle to work rather than drive, did you know in the UK you can then buy a bike tax free through the "cycle to work scheme"?  There are a few providers of which Bike2Work is one.

Use free online work outs

Fitness blender have hundreds of exercise videos freely available through their website and You Tube channel.  The work outs are all different lengths and intensities and every single one is free.

Not all DVDs are expensive

Look out for preowned work out DVDs on Amazon (I recommend Jillian Michaels) or alternatively borrow / swap exercise DVDs with friends to keep things more interesting.

Get running

Running trainers can be expensive but once you have them, there are virtually no ongoing costs to outside running.  There are loads of couch to 5K programmes as well you can download for free to help if you're starting from scratch.

Give Parkrun a go

If you find you like running, parkrun is a great (and free) way to meet your fellow runners.

Have a kick about

Get the kids to a park and take a football with you so you can all get your hearts pumping.

Make the most of tester days

You don't have to sign up to long gym memberships (and I'd urge you not to) but it's sometimes worth looking for tester or trial days at local gyms as a cheeky freebie but do watch out for any small print or being strongly encouraged to sign up for future membership first (don't!)

Nuffield Gyms free pass
Free class with British Military Fitness
Free workout at Fitness First
Free 3 day pass at puregym

Look for "outdoor gyms"

In many UK towns there are outdoor gyms now where you can use a variety of different toning and (sometimes) cardio equipment.

Take a load off the cost of weights

You may need weights for some indoor toning workouts with Fitness Blender or similar, bottles of water make great simple light weights rather than buying specific ones but it's also a great idea to keep an eye out at car boot sales and on freecycle sites as weights are often an item bought with great intentions which fade a few weeks into the new year.  Alternatively body weight toning like pilates and yoga are really effective and normally require no equipment.


Even if you don't have somewhere specifically to be, walking is great exercise and is good for most people irrespective of their current fitness.  In winter, it's a great idea to get out at lunchtime as that way you will get the most sunlight which is also good for your mood.  This is also great if you have a baby and a great way to get your baby to nap if they're a reluctant snoozer.

Look on local council websites as many have recommended walks in their area or links to sites which do and local libraries may have walking books and maps of the local area.  I've found some lovely parts of my local countryside through following walks like this.

Check local authority gyms

Many of these places have no obligation memberships (so you're not tied in for longer than a month) and big price reductions if you're young, older or on benefits.  I'm still not a massive gym fan but if you are this could really keep costs down.  Other newer gym companies like puregym are also considerably more cost effective but even though you can cancel whenever you like, both municipal gyms and chains will count on some users not doing so and that's how much of their profit will be made so if you stop going enough times a month to make it cost effective, don't feel guilty about cancelling it.  There's no point in wasting money for no purpose, just accept it wasn't for you but do something else instead.

Plan something for charity

Entering a race, run or walk is normally only for a nominal fee and can keep you motivated to exercise on dark evenings.

Get gardening and cleaning

Sometimes the benefits of gardening and housework are overstated (we're not all scrubbing floors by hand anymore) but it all contributes to being active.

Log your progress

Use an app or a website to record the distances you run / walk or any workouts you do then it is easy to look back and see how much you've done and log your progress.  Some of these websites have premium membership but just go for the free option.  One of the great things is that you can see when you repeat a route whether you've got faster or not.  There are a couple below but many more available.

Mapmyrun - can record runs, walks, cycle rides and workouts.

Remember that if you've not exercised for a while it's a great idea to talk to your GP or health professional before starting an exercise regime but please do something!  No exercise is so much worse than doing a bit and I hope I've convinced you it can be low or no cost.

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