It’s been scientifically proven that exercise makes you happier, as it releases a chemical called Dopamine in your brain, triggering feelings of happiness. Exercising also helps you:
- Release stress
- Get a better night’s sleep
- Increase concentration levels
In fact, there’s no end to the benefits of exercise.
The government recommends we should be doing at least thirty minutes of cardio 3-5 times a week.
However with busy lives, and the potential costs involved, many of us neglect to take time out to exercise, and even question how to get fit. The usual excuses won’t work anymore though – we’ve found some great ways to get fit for free, which won’t take up much of your time. We’ve also included some paid options below as well, which we think are great value.
Cycle to work
Does your work life cause you to question how to get fit in the first place? After a long day at the office, the last thing you often feel like doing is hitting the gym. Instead, why not incorporate your exercise regime into your daily commute?
One option is to cycle to work. Burning around 300 calories an hour, you’ll be working off a lot of chocolate bars, whilst reducing your risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
Your workplace may be part of the Bike 2 Work scheme, which is a government initiative, and enables employees to purchase bikes, saving up to 42% off the cost. Even without the discount, bikes usually cost no more than a couple of hundred pounds, which is an extremely cheap commuting option.
Gamify your commute
If you like the idea of building exercise into your commute, but aren’t keen on the idea of cycling, then walking could be the perfect solution. Even if you don’t live within walking distance of your workplace, ditch the car and catch the bus (making sure you get off a few stops earlier!).
With 10,000 steps being the recommended daily amount, many of us fail to reach this, walking an average of 3,000-4,000 steps a day. Incorporating walking into your commute, or even stretching your legs at lunch will soon get that step count up, and help you on your way to feeling healthier and happier.
For extra motivation, gamify your walking with the likes of Fitocracy. Challenge other users and take on quests to push you into walking those extra 1,000 steps. The social media aspect is a great way of spurring you on, by communicating with others.
Exercise with friends
It can be very hard to motivate yourself when there’s just one of you – especially if you find exercising mundane. Having someone else – or even a group of you – can really help spur you on. Plus, you’re less likely to bail on that evening run if you know you’ll be letting someone else down!
Running and jogging are both obvious free options (the NHS’ Couch to 5k is perfect for beginners, offering weekly running plans and podcasts to ensure you’re doing it properly). Alternatively, you could try yoga, Pilates or even HIIT. Whether you’ve been to some classes before and know the moves, or use Google to get an idea, you can easily set up a mini workout class in your home.
Get on YouTube
This leads on nicely to our next point. There’s an abundance of exercise videos available on YouTube. Whatever you fancy trying, you can guarantee they’ll have it. From ab exercises to Insanity training, and even ballet classes, you’re sure to find something you’ll want to do.
If you’re looking for inspiration, start with FitnessBlender. Their 300 simple workout routines are updated every week, and cover a variety of exercises from kettlebells to yoga and circuit training. If you get bored easily, this is the channel for you.
BeFit is another great channel to tune into, and they offer a series of five minute workouts, which are perfect if you’re pushed for time.
Set some time aside a few days a week to make sure you actually do the exercise. Whilst exercising at home is extremely convenient, it can also be easy to blow off in favour of sitting on the sofa and watching TV instead!
Even if you don’t have much time on your hands, you’ll find plenty of intense exercise clips lasting just 5-10 minutes, and there are no excuses not to spare such a small amount of your day, especially when it means you can get fit at home for free.
Join the gym (paid)
Joining the gym can be costly, but if you know that the only way you’ll be motivated to exercise is to actually go to the gym, then it’s worth investing in. Besides, there is a cheap option: Pure Gym.
With monthly memberships starting at £14.99, you know it’s going to be basic; but with over 150 gyms nationwide fully equipped with plenty of facilities, and over 50 free classes a week, it does the job.
Even if you’re short on time, you’ll be able to incorporate a trip to the gym in with your busy schedule, as Pure Gym is open 24/7 (not that we’re encouraging you to skip your sleep at 3am for a quick blast on the treadmill!). Classes range from cardio, to muscle building and toning, and with early morning and late classes available, you can fit them in around work and other responsibilities.
Visit a free gym
Free gyms are actually a thing, and they’re available all across the UK, in the form of Great Outdoor Gym Company.
Many local parks are now equipped with familiar gym equipment like cross trainers and spinning bikes; along with apparatus to help you with exercises such as obliques and leg presses.
Whilst admittedly, it may not be the greatest idea in depths of winter; when the sun is shining (or at the very least, it’s not raining), it’s a great, free way to exercise, whilst getting you outdoors, and the whole family can come along!
Thought mobile phones and exercise didn’t work well together? Think again. There are lots of apps now available to actively encourage you to workout, and show you how to get fit.
The Walk is based on an idea that you need to walk 500 miles across the UK to save the country. You can play episodes and track your process to see how close you are to reaching your goal. At £2.29, it’s a fun and cheap way of keeping fit.
Zombies, Run! (£1.49) is a similar option, where you are encouraged to run away from zombies, whilst collecting supplies on the way.
If you prefer a varied exercise regime, which you want to track overall; and build in healthy eating, then free app MyFitnessPal is very useful. Input what exercise you’ve completed on a daily basis, and how long for, and find out how many calories you’ve burnt.
They also have over 5 million foods stored in their database, complete with nutritional information, so you can get a complete overview of how healthy your lifestyle is. If you’re looking to lose weight, you can set yourself a goal weight and track your basis on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.
Get paid to exercise!
If you’re in desperate need of motivation to exercise, then this should do the trick. Once downloaded, free app Bounts connects to your fitness tracker or smartphone app, and pays you for exercising through points (or ‘bounts’) every time you exercise.
As a free user, the maximum amount of points you’ll be able to earn in a day is fifteen: five for a minimum of 7,000 steps (which you can easily cover in your commute, or walk at lunch), five points for twenty minutes of one method of exercise, and five points for a check in at the gym. You also get the chance to win extra points with a spin of the rewards wheel each time you complete an activity; and you can also get 100 points just for subscribing.
Premium account holders can earn more points (twenty points for the standard activity above), up to a maximum of 180 points per day – although you’d have to be exercising practically non-stop to reach that amount! With premium membership costing £14.99 a year, unless you’re a keen exerciser, it isn’t worth paying for. Money Saving Expert has a great review which gives you a complete breakdown of the app, and how to earn the most points.
1,389 points will get you a £5 voucher (redeemable at places like Tesco, Debenhams and WHSmith), and 2,778 points will get you a £10 voucher at the likes of Costa, River Island and Boots.
Whilst it can take time accruing the points, the rewards are a great motivation to push yourself that little bit harder.
Essentially, there is no excuse not to exercise. With plenty of cheap options available - and several enabling you to get fit for free! - why wouldn't you start your fitness regime today?! If you want to find out more money saving tips and advice, head on over to our blog!
Remember, do not buy what you can’t afford, and think carefully before taking out a loan for any non-essential purchases.
All information was correct at the time of writing.