Gym-free exercises

Cheap and easy ways to improve your fitness without a gym, including walking, running, dancing, swimming and cycling.

Try these cheap and fun gym-free activities to improve your health and fitness.

Getting health benefits from physical activity is easier than you think, and it doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg.

Doing at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity is enough to keep you feeling fit and healthy.

If the gym is not your thing, there are many low-cost activities you can do on your own that can get you in shape.

Find something you enjoy that you can easily build into your lifestyle or build on something that's already part of your routine.

Here are some tips for getting active the cheap and easy way.

Walking

Walking is one of the best forms of exercise because it's cheap and accessible to everyone. Increasing the amount you walk is easier than you think. You can make it a social affair by walking with a friend or joining a local walking group.

Walking stimulates the cardiovascular system – the heart, lungs and circulation. It also boosts the endurance of the lower muscles, including the legs and hips.  

For tips on walking to boost your health, making walks fun and staying motivated, check out our Getting started guide to walking.

You could also try the free Active 10 app to help you get into the habit of walking briskly for 10 minutes every day.

Home exercises

Burn calories, lose weight and feel great with our 10-minute home workout routines:

If you're looking for something less energetic, these gentle exercises are ideal if you want to improve your health and lift your mood. 

Running and jogging

Running makes more demands on your body than walking, so if you're just starting out, you should build up the speed and duration of your runs gradually. 

If you're thinking of taking up running for the first time or you've been inactive for a while, read our Getting started guide to running.

Thousands of people have learned to run using the NHS Couch to 5K podcast. The plan is designed to get complete beginners running 5km in nine weeks.

Cycling

Cycling is an aerobic exercise that works your lower body and cardiovascular system. If you plan to cycle regularly, make sure your bike is the right size, and the saddle and handlebars are adjusted to suit your height. 

As with jogging or walking, you can make it a social activity by riding with friends, family or a cycling group. For tips for complete beginners, see our Getting started guide to cycling.

Swimming

Swimming is the third most popular type of exercise in the UK, after walking and running. Most pools offer lessons if you're a beginner or you want to improve.

Swimming exercises the whole body, and is a great way to tone up and get trim. Doing a few lengths involves most of the muscle groups. If you increase the pace, you'll get an aerobic workout, too.

Swimming can also help you lose weight if you swim at a steady and continuous pace throughout the session.

You could join a swimming club or sign up for pool workout sessions, such as aqua aerobics. For tips for complete beginners, read our Getting started guide to swimming.

Dancing

Dance is popular among all age groups. It's a skilled activity, but most studios offer classes for all abilities.

Dancing is an aerobic activity that improves your balance and co-ordination. It's suitable for people of all ages, shapes and sizes. Find out more about dancing for fitness.

Badminton

Badminton is one of the most accessible racquet sports. The shuttlecock travels at a relatively low speed, so you don't need a high degree of skill and fitness to begin with.

Badminton is an aerobic activity that works on your lower and upper body. It will develop your balance, co-ordination, stamina, power and reflexes. Racquet games can be quite strenuous, so warm up before playing.

More ideas:

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