equipment-free workouts
November 13, 2005 12:03 PM   Subscribe

I need help coming up with a bunch of different, creative ways to incorporate exercise into my life, every day, without spending any money.

I am really out of shape and need to get into the habit of exercising everyday. In the past (several years in the past...) I've had marginal success going to the gym every day. I've since moved across the country, and my budget is wildly tight, I absolutely can't afford a gym membership, or any home exercise equipment.

I've been trying like gangbusters to get into the habit of walking several miles a day, I often take the bus halfway to work and then walk the rest of the way, which works great, but if I am running late, either in the morning or on my way home, I don't do it. I also get bored with walking and want to try something else that's a little more challenging or straightforward. I have some exercise DVDs, but my television and DVD player are in my living room, directly above my neighbor's bedroom, and it really seems like whenever I get the inkling to exercise to a tape, it's right at a time when I would distrurb them downstairs.

I've tried going upstairs to my attic and just doing situps, or "stairmastering" on my stairs. These work okay, but I feel like I just have no clue what I'm doing. I remember reading about a woman who would fill two shopping bags with books and use them as weights, and I've found a few things online that I'm going to try.

There are some nice parks near my house, and I do go over to them and walk and sometimes even jog (I really HATE jogging) from time to time, but I know myself and know I will never be able to get into the habit of doing this every single day, it's just too time consuming.

What I'd really like to do is come up with an arsenal of different things I can do from day to day. If I run out of time to walk to/from work, really don't feel like going to the park, or am hopelessly bored with walking/jogging, I can try something different. All of my 'net searches have turned up mostly with ways to exercise with expensive equipment.

So, I would love to hear if any of you out there have some cool, easy, cheap exercise methods you can do at home to add to my list of things to try?
posted by pazazygeek to Health & Fitness (23 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Relatively inexpensive handweights and a book/website on how to use them to build upper body strength. Can be used to exercise arms, back, pectorals, and shoulders all while you watch TV. Remember: muscle burns fat even while you're resting, so you don't want to just burn calories with your exercise--you want to include something in the rotation that will build muscle too.
posted by availablelight at 12:12 PM on November 13, 2005

Most weight training/muscle toning videotapes are not noisy, because there's no aerobics, and so wouldn't disturb your neighbors and are great for boosting your metabolism. Your profile says Boston -- try your library for those types of videos (or books), and try the local paper or freecycle for weights and training equipment that are being given away -- usually lots out there.

Also, some good hints here.
posted by JanetLand at 12:17 PM on November 13, 2005

whenever I get the inkling to exercise to a tape... If I run out of time... really don't feel like going to the park ...

You need to build it into your life, not just do it whenever the urge strikes you. Say every day at 7 pm, you do something for an hour. Or every day you walk to work. Or every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday you walk to work. It can't be a whole new decision every day -- willpower's just not sufficient for the task.

The obvious solution is to just not run late in the mornings and always walk to work. Get a radio for 10 bucks and you'll have all the entertainment you need.
posted by callmejay at 12:19 PM on November 13, 2005

Best answer: Sounds like a job for Shovelglove!
posted by jheiz at 12:28 PM on November 13, 2005

Get a bike, and cycle to work. It'll be more interesting than walking, and quicker too.

(Though make sure you get kitted out with a helmet and lights, too, if you're ever going to be cycling in the dark or near-dark).
posted by Lotto at 12:37 PM on November 13, 2005

And yes I know you said you didn't want to spend any money, but you can get a decent second-hand bike for not very much, and it will last you a long time, be good exercise and be good for the environment, all at the same time!
posted by Lotto at 12:40 PM on November 13, 2005

Best answer: Dancing? Put on some tunes you like and go nuts jumping around for 20 minutes?

Also, don't give up on running yet. I was always something of an anti-runner, but then I just got into it. I haven't been able to go because I've been super busy lately, but man I miss it. Having good music to listen to always helps.
posted by jetskiaccidents at 1:05 PM on November 13, 2005

Shovelglove, and the diet on the same site, seconded.
posted by notsnot at 1:16 PM on November 13, 2005

Push-ups and sit-ups can be done at home without making a lot of noise. Or maybe you can make some extra cash as a dogwalker. Jumping rope is really cheap, and it's fun! You can do this at your local park.

If you can get one cheap, I really second getting a bike. It's superfun and because you need to be alert for traffic, you're less likely to get bored.
posted by hooray at 1:30 PM on November 13, 2005

Body weight exercises - hindu squats, hindu presses, crunches, bridging, push ups in all their variations (wide/narrow hand spacing, inclined, vertical, one handed)

Cheap exercise equipment - skipping rope, adapt a bicycle inner tube to act as a resistance band, backpack full of heavy books.
posted by the cuban at 1:32 PM on November 13, 2005

another vote for the bike. also, it'll save you money. a cheap second hand one will pay for itself in bus tickets in a months or so
posted by twirlypen at 1:43 PM on November 13, 2005

Best answer: Krista's site is a great resource for women (or men) just getting started with weight training but offers great advice on cardio and intervals as well. Her training page lists a variety of equipment and workout plans, including several ideas for non-traditional/cheap/handy exercise devices.
posted by maudlin at 1:50 PM on November 13, 2005

Another vote for dance!
posted by divabat at 2:00 PM on November 13, 2005

When I decided to try to get into shape, I tried an experiment. It worked for me, and it might work for you. I made a commitment to myself to exercise 30 minutes a day for five days a week, for five weeks. The exercise had to be expecially mild at first, because I was trying to do it for five weeks, and didn't want to be discouraged in the first couple days. The second promise was that I would evaluate after five weeks and quit if I wanted to.

If you do this, remember that you're trying to make this at least tolerable, and maybe even enjoyable. Make the exercise strenuous enough to be a challange, but not so hard that you can't do it for thirty minutes. If you can't talk or sing to yourself, you're doing it too hard. Slow down. Dress appropriately for the weather. Vary the type of exercise you do. Walk, ride a bike, walk up and down your stairs; buy rollerblades if you can.

If you make this commitment, you'll find ways to make this work. After all, it's only for five weeks, half an hour a day. After the five weeks, you can quit if you want. I myself decided to give myself another five weeks just to be sure. A couple weeks into the second five week period, I forgot about the deadline and continued even after an accident put me in the hospital for a few days.
posted by faceonmars at 2:18 PM on November 13, 2005

I like fitness magazines (Fitness, Health, probably Men's Health) -- they often have workouts you can do at home with minimal equipment, and you get new ideas every month. So by the time you get bored, you have three new workouts. And if you don't want to shell out the $15 for a subscription, you can get them from the library, where they have lots of back issues too.
posted by chickenmagazine at 3:16 PM on November 13, 2005

I'm in Portland, Maine, and I have a spare bike. It was going to be freecycled, but the person was a noshow. Email's in my profile if you're interested.

If you're broke, have time, and like dogs, you might be able to pick up some spare $ walking dogs. Great fun & exercise.
posted by theora55 at 4:07 PM on November 13, 2005

Best answer: An exercise that worked alarmingly well for me:

Lie on the floor. Keeping your knees straight and your back flat on the ground, lift your feet about a foot off the floor. Hold this pose for ten seconds or as much as you can manage.

Start with one of these a day, and work your way up until you can hold it for a minute or two. Do it every day. In a few months, your abs will be hard like wood.
posted by Luther Blissett at 4:26 PM on November 13, 2005 [1 favorite]

If you ever have to go to a different floor in a building, take the stairs, up or down, not the elevator. Move your furniture around every couple of weeks. Avoid labor saving devices, mix it, cut it, or blend it yourself. Do yard work.
posted by blue_beetle at 4:40 PM on November 13, 2005

I've been doing Shovelglove too, although I haven't bothered to wrap the sledge in a sweater, and it's amazing how easy it is to fit into my schedule and how much of a difference it makes in how you feel in only a couple weeks.
posted by kindall at 4:56 PM on November 13, 2005

Yoga. I started a couple of weeks ago and it's amazing. I picked up this Power Yoga kit at my local Target for $30, including mat, strap, and dvd. It's a sixty minute routine, broken into three parts of equal length.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 6:28 PM on November 13, 2005

If you can spare $20, consider buying an inflatable body ball. There's a surprising number of exercises you can do with it, and it's much more appealing than crunches on the floor. Also, yoga.
posted by muckster at 7:53 PM on November 13, 2005

Eubie Blake, the jazz pianist,advised, jangle when you walk.
he lived to be about a hundred.
posted by hortense at 7:53 PM on November 13, 2005

Do Yoga. It's a real workout. If you order some Yoga DVD's off of NetFlix (free trial) you can easily learn a routine. You don't need weights or any of that stuff.

One other exercise I would recommend, but that's hard to make stick is jogging. If you jog two or three times a week you will be in shape in no time. Start just by seeing if you can run around the block.
posted by xammerboy at 7:23 AM on November 14, 2005

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