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11 cheap ways to keep fit without the 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's our top picks.

hula-hooping to stay fitCredit: David McSpadden - Flickr

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

To help you conserve brainpower and focus on physique, we've compiled our 11 favourite ways to become healthy bod 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.

11 budget ways to get fit

  1. Try Workout DVDs

    Exercise DVDsExercise 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 Angela Lansbury aka Mrs. Murder She Wrote...we're not even joking.

    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. Get 'appy!

    fitness-appsWith the world going frankly a bit wellness manic these days, 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 floorspace to tone up with their personalised routines.

    Instagram is also full of it's own fitness celebs with God-like status - check out 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

    sports_teamThere'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 (ultimate frisbee) and the best part is the teeny tiny price.

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

  4. Cut out junk food

    fast-foodA 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 the takeaways, fatty foods and snacks and you'll not only 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

    home-exercise-equipmentAlways 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 exerciser for as little as £12, and skipping ropes are cheap as chips (but not half 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, water everywhere!

    waterYou 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 blinking 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 8 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. Get outdoors

    get-walkingJust 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.

    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!

  8. Stay indoors

    indoor-fitnessDespite the 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 possible 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 sausage.

    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. Play "Free" sports

    free-sportsThere's no denying that some sports can be costly and there's plenty that require you join a team to take party (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 kick-about 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

    switch-up-fitnessEven 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!).

    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 counts!

  11. Last resort: Join the gym

    GymOkay, 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, ask for a student discount, take advantage of free gym trials - do whatever you can to get the price down.

Got any great tips for keeping fit without splashing out on a gym membership? Please share in the comments below!

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