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Quick Tips: Getting in Shape Without Spending Money

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Being active is one of the best things you can do to get fit and stay healthy. It helps you feel stronger and have more energy. It can help you lose fat, build muscle, and reach a healthy weight. Being active may also help you feel better, sleep better, and focus.

It's easy to spend a lot of money on sports and programs that help keep you active. But it's just as easy to get fit without spending any money at all.

Remember to work on all types of fitness: flexibility, strength, and aerobic fitness.

  • Get flexible.
    • Warm up your muscles for 5 to 10 minutes before you stretch them. Warm up by doing aerobic activity such as walking or jogging.
    • Stretch all your major groups of muscles. These include the muscles of your arms, your back, your hips, the front and back of your thighs, and your calves.
    • Stretch slowly and regularly to help yourself be more flexible. Combining stretching with other fitness activities is best.
    • Try to hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds.
    • Do some stretches first thing in the morning.
    • Take a "stretch break" instead of a coffee break at work.
    • Try activities that include stretching, such as dance, martial arts (aikido or karate), tai chi, or yoga.
  • Build strength.
    • Do housework and yard work on a regular basis. Scrub the bathtub, wash walls, till the garden, or pull weeds.
    • Do basic muscle-conditioning exercises such as push-ups, leg lifts, and other familiar exercises.
    • Try muscle-strengthening exercises using weights. You can use cans of food instead of buying dumbbells.
  • Do aerobic activity.

    These ordinary activities cost nothing. And they all count as aerobic activity.

    • Walk briskly to work or to do errands.
    • Push a lawn mower.
    • Vacuum.
    • Sweep (perhaps to fast-paced music).
    • Rake leaves or shovel snow.
    • Dance.
    • Play actively with your children.
    • Walk the dog.

    If you need more structure for your exercise but don't want to spend money for a class, you can find free classes online.

At the office

Many of us are so busy that fitting in physical activity can seem impossible on most days. But here's some good news: It doesn't have to be a certain amount each day. It's fine to do blocks of 10 minutes or more throughout your day and week.

Here are some ideas for fitting some activity into your day at work.

  • Use your commute to work to do some extra walking.

    You can park several blocks away, or get off the bus a few stops early.

  • Take the stairs.

    At work, use the stairs instead of the elevator, at least for a few floors.

  • Take more walks.

    Suggest holding meetings with colleagues during a walk inside or outside the building. Or use your morning and afternoon breaks to take quick 15-minute walks.

  • Go the extra distance.

    Get your coffee on another floor (use the stairs). Or use the washroom that's the farthest from your office. And if you need to speak to a co-worker, walk to that person's office or workspace rather than using email or the phone.


Current as of: October 10, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Elizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal Medicine