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Budget-friendly fitness: How to get a great body on the cheap

Resolving to lose weight this year? Chances are you’re not alone. But gym memberships can get expensive, as can yoga, Pilates or other fitness classes, so what’s a fitness-minded gal to do? If you want to finally lose that last five pounds, or just commit to a more active lifestyle, we’ve got some great ways to improve your body – on a budget.

Woman with ice skates

Budget-friendly fitness tip #1

Walk more

This is probably the simplest form of budget-friendly fitness. You don’t need any equipment (other than decent running or cross-training shoes) and there’s no schedule or timeline involved – simply get out and walk when you have time. Aim for 30 to 45 minutes three to five times a week at a moderate to brisk pace. You can use a site like to plan your routes.

>> How to start a walking fitness program

Budget-friendly fitness tip #2

Work out in small spurts

You don’t have to exercise for 60-plus minutes at a time for full body-sculpting benefits. Sneak in small spurts of activity, such as quick 15-minute workout routines, during your day.

A great time for this is while you wait. Do crunches, squats, lunges and even yoga poses while you’re on the phone, waiting for someone to call you back, during commercials or in between loads of laundry. You can also sneak in additional calorie burn by taking the stairs instead of the elevator and deliberately parking in the furthest spot from the mall so you have to do some extra walking.

>> 4 Cool new fitness trends: New ways to exercise

Budget-friendly fitness tip #3

Get gaming

You don’t need a pricey gym membership to burn calories if you have can persuade friends to come out to play. Gather your BFFs for some fitness fun in the form of sports or other sweat-inducing activities. Think Frisbee, capture the flag, touch football and anything else that has you running around outdoors.

Depending on the season, there are low-cost options like ice skating and cross country skiing (if you live in a snowy state) or hiking and inline skating (in warmer months) to work your muscles for less.

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Budget-friendly fitness tip #4

Improvise your home fitness

Skip the gym for an at-home workout. Set up a mat and make use of any weight-bearing items you have around the house to create a no-cost home gym. Soup cans, books or anything else with a bit of heft can replace free weights for exercises like bicep curls, shoulder presses and tricep extensions. Use what you have or rely on moves that don’t require equipment to get a great workout at home.

>> Try this full-body home workout routine

Budget-friendly fitness tip #5

Sweat to online workouts

There are countless resources and free fitness videos online to help put you on the path to a great body. Use Self Magazine’s “Workout Builder” to create customized routines for specific body parts from their extensive array of fitness videos. Shape offers a myriad of muscle-toning and cardio fitness routines on their site for no-cost calorie burning. is another online fitness site that offers free full-length videos or $10/month memberships for access to their nearly 200 workout videos. Or simply search online for your desired workout online (yoga, cardio, toning) and go though the options available until you find something that suits you and your goals.

>> Get more ideas! Live large, but spend small

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