How to Get Fit Without Paying for a Gym Membership

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Written by Martin Banks

Gyms and fitness centers are fine places to work out, but there may be reasons you may want to avoid them. Sometimes they’re too crowded, expensive and far from your home or workplace. Some gyms may also have operating hours outside your schedule.

Thankfully, there are new and ancient ways to exercise on your own. Here are six ways to get fit without paying for a gym membership — most requiring few or no expenses at all.

1. Walking

One of the easiest and cheapest ways to exercise is walking. There isn’t anything you have to buy — all you need are tennis shoes and comfortable exercise clothing. Design a walking path around your neighborhood, a park, a mall or any place you’d like. You can use a pedometer or a step-tracking app to record your distance each time you head out.

Walking can have significant health benefits, such as increased muscle endurance, weight loss, improved cardiovascular health, reduced stress and many more. There are plenty of ways you can start incorporating walking into your daily routine. For example, you could walk to your workplace or a store if they’re close enough to your house.

2. Hiking

Have you thought about using a mini-vacation as a way to get exercise? Hiking is an excellent way to be with nature and get good cardio. There are hiking trails throughout the United States and you can find some of the best at national parks. The National Park Service operates parks in all 50 states — most of them have free admission year-round.

Hiking has health benefits similar to walking, but the great outdoors can boost your mental health. In a study, people who walked in nature as opposed to an urban setting saw more positive mental health effects. For example, these participants had fewer feelings of depression, anxiety and anger.

3. Swimming

Swimming is an excellent exercise for those who want a low-impact, easy regimen. You can use a pool in your backyard, a city pool, a lake or any body of water you prefer. If you or someone you know has arthritis or other joint issues, swimming is an ideal exercise because it can ease pain and make joints more flexible.

When you swim, you can increase your heart rate without feeling the stress on your body. It’s great for toning and building strength, too. One of the best parts about swimming is the many different exercises you can do, like aerobics, strength training and more.

4. Water Sports

Water sports are a fun way to get in the water and get your adrenaline pumping. Rafting, surfing and wakeboarding are just some examples of exhilarating activities you can do to get fit. Though they’re less intense, you can get a great workout by kayaking, canoeing and rowing boats.

Kayaking specifically is great because it’s a full-body workout that engages your legs, abs, arms and back. Try snorkeling and scuba diving in the ocean for an interactive experience with wildlife that gets your heart pumping.

5. Yoga

People have been doing yoga for thousands of years, originating in the Indus Saraswati Valley — present-day India — around 2700 B.C. Yoga is a beautiful way to get physical exercise while stimulating the mind and connecting with your spirit.

Like swimming, yoga is another fantastic option for people with arthritis symptoms because of the way it eases joint discomfort. When you hold yoga poses, you build strength from the resistance your body is giving. Regularly doing yoga can also help you sleep better if you do it before bedtime. If you don’t mind hot and humid conditions, try hot yoga — it can burn even more calories than traditional yoga.

6. At-Home Workout Videos

If you want to stay home, you can take advantage of plenty of exercise options in your living room. Thanks to people like Jane Fonda, America and the rest of the world have used exercise tapes to work out at home for over four decades. Nowadays, you can still use those tapes or go to a video-sharing site.

YouTube is a terrific website if you want to find at-home workout videos. Type the exercise you want to do in the search bar and you’ll find hundreds upon thousands of free workouts. The best part is you can pause, rewind or skip anything. At-home exercise videos put you in control of your routine.

If you want to pay for a subscription service, that is also a great choice. Virtual fitness classes from companies like Peloton have been on the rise since the beginning of the pandemic. You can pick a lesson allowing you to work out by yourself or go a more interactive route with group fitness sessions.

Working Out in the Modern Era

Getting exercise can be more than weight lifting and treadmills in today’s world. While those are practical options, there are unlimited ways you can work out right now without having to sign up for the gym.

Take the dogs and go for a walk — some national parks will allow you to take your dog on trails inside the parks. Go for a swim or lay a mat on your back porch and do yoga. Your body will appreciate any movement you do and reward you with improved physical and mental health over time.

About the author

Martin Banks is the managing editor at Modded. Follow him on Twitter @TModded for frequent updates on his work.

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One comment

  1. Correct! To be a good “prepper” in addition to gears, skills, the main assert is to be in shape. In my case a good daily walk

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