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Health & Relationships

11 cheap ways to keep fit without using a gym

Hitting the gym requires more cash and commitment than we care for, but gyms aren't totally necessary if you want to stay fit and healthy! Here are our top alternatives.

running emoji exercise healthy

Credit: – (background) Pavlenko Oksana, (foreground) Artist_Studio Shutterstock

Whether you're a self-confessed couch potato or a certified fitness fanatic, there are loads of different ways to get in shape (or keep it that way) that don't require paying for a gym membership.

To help you conserve brainpower and focus on your physique, we've compiled our 11 favourite ways to get a healthy body and mind in no time – and on a budget of course!

If after reading this article you're still set on signing up to the gym (we won't be offended, honest), just make sure you read this guide to get the cheapest deal possible.

How to exercise for free

If you're not about shelling out big bucks to use a treadmill once a week (damn right!), here are some tips on keeping fit without going to the gym:

  1. Workout YouTube tutorials

    woman exercising at home watching youtube tutorial

    Credit: Fizkes – Shutterstock

    Have a gander at what YouTube has to offer. There are thousands of free to watch fitness routine videos to choose from depending on how hardcore you want to go!

    If you're happy to spend a few quid, exercise tapes have come a long way since the leotards and headbands of the 80s VHS. Every celebrity who's worth their salt has a fitness DVD or two up their sleeve – even Cher and Lorraine Kelly.

    You can pick up cheap workout DVDs from 99p in most pound stores or, if you're looking for a specific workout, you'll find a few for under a fiver on Amazon.

    There's no need to get bored of the routines, either – swap with your friends or simply head down to your local library where you'll be able to rent a different DVD every week.

  2. Download fitness apps

    app icons

    Credit: Cienpies Design - Shutterstock

    With the world going wellness, there are a whole slog of fitness apps popping up all over the place that will help you track your progress and work towards different goals.

    Apps like Sworkit and 7 Minute Workout are great for squeezing in a quick session at home, and you don't need anything but floor space to tone up with their personalised routines.

    Instagram is also full of its own fitness celebs with God-like status – check out Michelle Lewin, Kayla Itsines and Joe Wickes if you haven't already.

    You can find free apps with diet plans, recipe tips, workouts and trackers to show you where you're running. It's like Christmas all year round!

    Speaking of Christmas, it's worth mentioning that lots of great free workout apps will appear in top picks in January (when everyone's desperate to shed Christmas pounds), so keep an eye out.

  3. Join university sports teams

    football team training

    Credit: wonker - Flickr

    There's no need to be an Olympic athlete to get involved with sports clubs at university.

    You'll find a whole host of sports clubs from the bog-standard (football) to the weird and wonderful (Quidditch), and the best part is the teeny tiny price.

    Because you're a student paying full whack on uni fees and general living costs, society memberships are usually kept as low as possible, so you can get involved without stretching your student budget.

  4. Stop eating junk food

    mcdonalds hamburgers chicken burgers

    Credit: Mohd Nasirruddin Yazid - Shutterstock

    A cupboard full of crisps and a Dominos delivered to your door might sound like the best option when you flop on the sofa after a hard day, but it won't be doing your waistline – or your wallet – any good.

    Cut out the takeaways, fatty foods and snacks and not only will you see the difference – you'll feel it too.

    If you're in need of some guidance on how to become a master of your student kitchen, we've got just the ticket!

    For inspiration for some filling, healthy and quick meals, then make sure to check out our recipes section. Who knows, you could be the next Jamie Oliver (or not).

  5. Use home exercise equipment

    kettlebells

    Always dreamed of a home gym with all the mod-cons? Now, just take away all of the shiny, expensive bits and you can have your very own!

    You can get cheap versions of gym equipment on Amazon, such as a rowing exercisers for less than £10, and skipping ropes are cheap as chips (but way less as fatty).

    If you're really going for it, keep an eye on Freecycle and swap shop sites, where you'll sometimes find old gym equipment looking for a new home (yes, it's really free).

  6. Drink water instead of fizzy drinks

    man drinking water

    You might be totally on top of this healthy eating business, but have you stopped to think about what else you're chucking down your throat?

    Fizzy drinks like Coke, Sprite or Fanta, along with highly sweetened or flavoured fruit juices, are only good for two things: rotting your teeth and piling on the pounds. They're also bloody expensive.

    Switch to plain old water and you'll find it's cheaper (even free!), much more refreshing and much better for you. Experts recommend that we drink eight to 10 glasses (equal to around 2 litres) every day!

    If you find the taste of water a bit dull, try adding some chopped up fruit to give it a bit of flavour.

  7. Go to the park

    people jogging in park

    Just getting outside of your house can be enough to gee up the fitness effort. Grab your running shoes or trainers and go for a jog around your local area – you might also be surprised at what you see.

    Parks are brilliant hubs for different ways of keeping fit. Find out whether there's a local park run going on near you (they usually happen on Saturday mornings and are completely free!).

    Outdoor gyms that can usually be found next to the playgrounds are also great alternatives to splashing out on an actual (indoor) gym membership. Loads of the same equipment without the sweaty gym air!

    If your running shoes aren't quite feeling up to it, then grab those walking boots instead and set off on a hike.

    Not only is walking or running the cheapest option on the menu, but you can even download an app that will pay you for the steps you take!

    If you want to ease yourself into it, check out the NHS's couch to 5k podcast that'll get you ripped without you even noticing!

  8. Do indoor workouts

    woman doing exercise indoors

    Credit: Goran Bojicevik Shutterstock

    Despite what we said in the last tip, the great outdoors can be a massive deterrent to a generous bout of healthy exercise, especially when it's too cold, too hot, too rainy or too dry (or any other excuse you can possibly think of).

    Don't let that put you off, though – there's tonnes of stuff you can do in your house, right now, without buying a thing.

    From running up and down the stairs (yes that is a legitimate exercise) to squats, press-ups and star jumps, you won't have to step a foot out the door.

    Again, there are loads of apps around these days that cater to those who want to tone up but can't bear to leave the house: no gym, no excuse!

  9. Use free sports facilities

    andy murray playing tennis

    Credit: Mirsasha - Flickr

    There's no denying that some sports can be costly and there's plenty that require you to join a team to take part (ugh, commitment). This isn't the case for everything, though. Hoorah!

    Lots of councils and universities will offer free facilities, whether it's a field for a kickabout or some tennis courts, so check out what's available in your area.

    If you live near the sea you can also check out if there are any tidal swimming pools, which are almost always freezing, but free.

  10. Switch up your routine

    cat sleeping

    Even the laziest of people can start to burn off the calories by making a few simple tweaks to their everyday routine.

    Pop down to the shops for your weekly groceries instead of buying online and make sure to use a basket instead of a trolley (work those biceps!).

    Cycle or walk to university instead of taking the bus, or just simply get off a stop or two before your destination. Make sure you always take the stairs instead of the lift – every little helps!

  11. Last resort: join the gym

    man on treadmill

    Okay, we know, this doesn't exactly fit the aim of this article, but we know some of you will ignore us and sign up anyway.

    If you are going to sign up to a gym, just make sure to get the best deal you can possibly get.

    Haggle your membership, ask for a student discount, take advantage of free gym trials – do whatever you can to get the price down.

If you fancy a part-time job that's sure to keep you on your feet, check out our guide on how to become a babysitter

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