To improve your fitness without straining your wallet, try these everyday ways to torch calories.
If a gym membership is not in your budget and a personal trainer is too pricey, you can still get fit and lose weight — for free. Wherever you exercise, whether at the gym, outdoors, or at home, it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that you exercise regularly. The trick is consistency over a long period.
When planning your fitness routine, remember that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week, through activities such as brisk walking, biking, jogging, and swimming, and two to three strength-training sessions per week. To be safe, talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program — especially if you have a health condition. Once you get the go-ahead to work out, try these budget-friendly options.
Park far away. It’s tempting to park as close as you can to the entrance of your destination. Instead, you can squeeze some exercise into your day just by parking at the end of every lot and walking the rest of the way, whether you’re going to work, shopping at the mall, or seeing your doctor.
Get off the bus early. This is another way to encourage working out — by walking to your destination. Walking is one of the best exercises you can do. It requires no special equipment other than a pair of comfortable sneakers, and it can be done anywhere.
Choose the stairs. Whenever you have the option of taking the stairs instead of an elevator, go for it. Climbing a few flights of stairs several times a day is a great way of working out for free. If you run up the stairs or take them two at a time, you can give your glutes and thigh muscles a toning boost.
Volunteer. Devote time to organizations such as Achilles International, which supports athletes with disabilities through free walking and running work outs alongside able-bodied volunteers. Lend your legs to the organization or another like it a few times a week to improve your physical and emotional health
Turn on the TV. If you have a TV, you can work out from your living room. Most cable packages come with free exercise programs either at set times or on-demand, and you also can find free work outs on YouTube and other Internet sites.
Work out online. If you’re not sure where to start without a personal trainer to guide you, check out the American Council on Exercise’s free fitness library. The step-by-step instructions for exercises for every body part — abs, hips, shoulders, arms, and more — will having you toning at home in no time. Many ACE exercises don’t require equipment; for the ones that do, consider investing in a pair of free weights, or improvise by holding canned foods or gallons of water in each hand.
Exercise in the park. Walk, jog, or bike through your neighborhood park, and up your calorie burn through body-weight exercises, such as walking lunges and tricep dips. Check with your city to find out if the public parks in your area ever offer free fitness class: From coast to coast, yoga, aerobics, Pilates, and Zumba classes are now available for free in outdoor spaces. You can also check social networking sites such as MeetUp.com to see if there are any local free-to-join exercise groups.
Go dancing. Dancing is great exercise, whether you’re grooving around your living room or out at a club with friends. Depending on your weight and how strenuous the moves are, you can burn from 60 to 140 calories in just 15 minutes. If you are out on the town, remember to skip calorie-laden cocktails to avoid spoiling your weight-loss efforts.
Do chores around the house. Scrub the floors. Rake leaves. Garden. Clean out the attic and the garage. Mow the lawn. Wash the windows. Ironing can involve standing for long periods and continuously moving your arms and shoulders, so it burns calories as you get the wrinkles out of your clothes.
All these chores make great calorie-burning work outs. As an added benefit, your house will look “toned,” too.
Visit your library. Many libraries have exercise videos or DVDs and books that you can borrow and use to work out on your own. Of course, you’ll find an even better selection at your local fitness store — and even if you buy a few, they still will add up to less than a gym membership.
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