It’s that time of year when many of us vow to lose weight and get fit(ter) – with the first stop being to join a local gym.
But with gym memberships costing anything from £20 a month for a council run leisure centre to £25 (off-peak) - £60 (peak) a month for a private gym membership, this won’t come cheap.
The good news is that you don’t need to join a gym. Here we show you how you can get fit, without having to shell out for a monthly gym membership fee.
1. Make use of fitness apps
There are hundreds of fitness app available online – some free, some paid-for – that can help with tracking your activities and fitness, calorie counters and changing your behaviour (such as motivation, knowledge, inspiration, and accountability). These include MyFitnessPal which tracks your food intake, making it easy to track how many calories you are consuming. Also, fitness apps such as RunKeeper and Strada keep a record of walking, running and cycling activities. They can be very useful if you set yourself a target, such as a number of miles per week or month.
Some also have social connections, so you can connect with friends, be part of a community, to encourage and share tips with other users.
2. Use online videos and workout DVDs
Visit YouTube and you’ll find hundreds of thousands of exercise videos that are free to watch. There is content for all levels, from complete beginners to advanced training. You can try out different ones until you find a workout you like. The Body Coach, Joe Wicks, has his own channel which has many workouts aimed at all levels, and each session usually last less than 30 minutes. No equipment is needed, making it ideal for those starting out. Another popular YouTube channel is Fitness Blender which has a variety of different videos to try out at home. There are also many chair-based workouts aimed at seniors and those who struggle with mobility.
You can also change your routine and try out different activities simply by watching another online video.
Or you buy a DVD workout - or rent it from your local library (typically for a small fee).
You can buy exercise equipment relatively cheaply from your supermarket, with stores such as Tesco and Argos having their own range. Or look on Ebay, Facebook's new marketplace or a local advertising site to buy something second hand.
You can even check out websites such as Freecycle and swap shop sites, where you’ll sometimes find old gym equipment looking for a new home - free!
4. Use what you have in your home
In some cases, you don’t even need get special equipment. For example, a tin of baked beans or a bottle of water can be used as a hand weight, and even a trusty broom can be used for a varied workout.
There are some really useful ideas of how to repurpose everyday household items as fitness equipment in this article here.
For a completely equipment-free workout, you can run up and down the stairs, do squats, press-ups, burpees and star jumps.
5. The great outdoors
Fast walking, jogging and running are all excellent ways to get your heart racing – all you need is a comfortable pair of trainers and that’s it!
If the only time you ever run is for the bus, websites such the NHS have free, specially developed running programmes – for instance, they say you can go from the couch to running 5k in just nine weeks. If you want to take the plunge then make sure you are fitted for running shoes in a specialist shop as they will take into account your gait and find the right pair for you. This will help avoid injury and ensure your running is comfortable.
6. Make small changes
Unless you are doing a big monthly shop, ditch the shopping trolley and pick up a shopping basket. This will give your arms a workout (swap the basket from hand to hand at regular intervals) and carrying the weight will burn more calories than pushing a trolley around.
Stick to the one-mile rule – pledge that if you need to go somewhere and your destination is within a one-mile radius, you’ll ditch the car or bus and walk there.
Move about as much as you can - just a few extra steps a day will count towards you getting fitter and improving your overall health.