5 Ways to Get Fit—and Save Money—at Home

Exercising at home can help you achieve both fitness goals and financial goals.

Mother and son exercising in their Wisconsin home.

In a pandemic, staying healthy is more important than ever but staying fit can be a challenge. You might not be able to visit the gym you love or meet friends at the yoga studio after work. Maybe you’ve started watching more TV or playing more video games to copy with anxiety. Thankfully, starting an exercise regimen doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Here are some ways to chase your fitness goals at home—and save money in the process.

1. Embrace minimalism.

Walking, running and hiking require very little equipment, and it doesn’t have to be fancy equipment. Your most important tool for these pursuits is a pair of supportive, well-fitting shoes. Add sunscreen, sweats and a t-shirt to the mix—and perhaps a few uptempo songs—and you’re ready to roll, with minimal impact on your budget.

2. Find an outdoor activity you love.

If you’re used to hitting the gym, exercising elsewhere may be a big adjustment. Remind yourself that enjoying your workouts will probably keep you coming back for more. Then try an outdoor activity you find thrilling, relaxing or even hilarious. Better yet, try a few. You might discover that parkour makes you feel like a kid again or that snowshoeing melts your cares away. Not every exercise experiment will be a home run, but you’ll raise your heart rate and, in all likelihood, your mood.

3. Try free exercise videos.

YouTube has a treasure trove of free fitness videos that range from tranquil t’ai chi sessions to flashy hip-hop dance routines. Test-drive a few different options and ask friends to share their favorites. Keep things fresh by creating a playlist that switches up the kinds of movements and music you use from day to day. Missing the camaraderie of group exercise classes? Invite a few fitness-loving friends to a Zoom meeting where you can all work out to the same video, at the same time. It’s a great way to stay connected—and motivated as well.

4. Build strength with bodyweight exercises.

Lifting weights is a common way to build strength and muscle mass, but it’s not the only way. Instead of finding the money and space for a weight machine or dumbbell collection, see if you can get the results you desire with bodyweight exercises. Squats, lunges and push-ups can be done nearly anywhere, even your home office. Many fitness magazines publish free online tutorials that teach you how to do these exercises with proper form and build a comprehensive workout.

5. Spread your workout throughout the day.

You don’t have to do all of your daily exercise at once to reap the benefits. If an unpredictable work schedule or nonstop childcare duties make it hard to carve out space for fitness, squeeze short bursts of exercise into your day. This could be jumping jacks while you microwave your lunch, crunches during TV commercials or a warrior pose before each meeting. You’ll amass a half an hour of exercise before you know it.

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