Get fit on a budget

The over-indulgence of the party season has finally taken its toll. Your waistband is feeling tighter, you’re convinced the bathroom scales have broken, and you never want to see another sausage roll in your life.

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But if your New Year’s resolution is to get back into shape, recent research from MoneySupermarket suggests it won’t be by joining a gym.

The considerable expense of gyms have seen Brits turn their backs on the treadmill, with two thirds (66%) saying they won’t be a member in 2013. One is 10 of these are cancelling their membership after failing to make the most of it last year.

But is it possible to get fit without spending a small fortune? Here we take a look at your options.

Free outdoor gyms

The NHS recommends adults do at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week.

The perfect way to fulfil this quota would be by visiting one of the many fee ‘outdoor gyms’ that have sprung up around the country in a number of public areas. Here you’ll be able to get a full work out on a range of equipment such as high bars, bikes and cross trainers – without spending a penny!

To find your nearest outdoor gym, visit the ‘great outdoor gym company’ website where you’ll be able to run a search simply by typing in your postcode.

Don your walking boots

As well as being proven to boost mood, improve sleep patterns and reduce anxiety, walking has many physical benefits. It improves the performance of your heart and lungs, lowers blood pressure and can even reduce the risk of chronic illness such as heart disease, stroke and some cancers.

The ‘Get walking keep walking’ project is on hand to help you get started. Its website has more than a thousand walking routes designed for beginners which can be viewed online or downloaded as printable route cards.

Or if you’re looking for a walk with a twist, the National Trust website also has a variety of options for you to try such as family adventure walks  or geo-caching trails.

Don’t ignore what’s on your doorstep

Making enquiries in your local area will present you with opportunities to get active for free or for a low cost.

For example, some areas have free tennis or basketball courts, while community centres often put on exercise classes that just cost a few pounds and won’t tie you into an expensive contract like gyms do.  Or maybe you fancy joining the local football team – why not give them a call?

Another option could be to look at the County Sports Partnerships website. This is a network of agencies, sports clubs and local authorities which work together to increase participation in sport, and therefore promote healthier living.

They organise free events and can let you know about clubs they are running in your area. For more information, visit their website.

Home gym

If you fancy exercising in the comfort of your own home, or have ambitions to turn your garage into your own gym, you could get your hands on some free exercise equipment.

By visiting one of the many recycling sites such as Freecycle or Freegle where people give away their unwanted stuff for free, you could get your hands on all you need to kit out your own gym.

And if you can’t find everything you need, be creative – improvise with tins, bottles and bags of sugar for weights to tone up those muscles!

Get running

For a lot of us, running is a daunting prospect that conjures up images of lycra-clad pros doing 10 -mile ‘jogs’ to warm up.

However, running is actually a very accessible sport and one way of really improving your cardio-vascular health for free.

It’s just knowing where to start – and the online running plan ‘Couch to 5k’ has been designed for just that. You will be given a nine-week plan which will start you off gently with a mixture of walking and running. Over the weeks you will incorporate more running and build up your endurance with manageable goals.

If you need others to motivate you, you could start your own running club with friends. Agree on a day, place and time to meet every week so you all commit to it. Do this and you’ll be signing up for the marathon in no time!

Make small changes

Just making small changes to your lifestyle can make big differences to you fitness level. If you have a desk job, it may be hard to find the motivation to drag yourself outside but just doing a 15 minute brisk walk at lunch time will really add up over the course of the week.

 And if this sounds too much like hard work, go online to find exercises you can do without even leaving your desk!

Even the most mundane of tasks can help out on your fitness mission. House work can burn a lot of calories and work major muscle groups – so next time you’re sluggishly pushing hoover around put a bit more gusto into it! And if you’re green-fingered, gardening is physically demanding and will also help shift that excess weight.

Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.

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