Ways to exercise and keep fit for free

Written by Hannah S on 21 September 2021

The closure of gyms and cancellation of events, fitness classes and games during the pandemic saw us all improvising the way we exercise and keep fit. Even professional athletes had to recreate their gruelling regimes within their homes and gardens.

It’s opened our eyes to what we can do to keep fit at home – without the cost of expensive memberships and equipment.

We’ve put together a list of things you can do for free or at very little cost…whether that’s to get fit, strong and lean, or just get yourself moving to improve your mental health.

Walk wherever possible

Walking is one of the easiest ways to get more movement into your day, is completely free and can save you money in terms of travelling costs. Just think, next time you’re nipping to the local shop, do you really need to take the car?

If you fancy something a bit more challenging, The Ramblers website allows you to search for walks based on location, distance and difficulty. Find out if there are any walking groups near you, and enjoy walks or hikes with other like-minded ramblers: Find a walk or route – Ramblers

Taking your dog out for a walk is another great excuse to get outdoors. However, if you don’t have your own four-legged friend, you can sign up for free to walk someone in your local area’s dog via Borrow My Doggy – giving you some company, doing the owner a favour – and you could get paid too!

Enjoy online fitness classes in the comfort of your own home

The pandemic has seen the rise of the online fitness class, with many people opting to work out in the comfort of their own home, rather than go to a gym. There is no end of free online fitness videos on YouTube, which are aimed at people of all ages, abilities, fitness – and include a massive range of workouts, such as HIIT, weights, yoga, dance, boxercise and aerobics, to name but a few. Whatever you fancy doing and however hard/easy you want your workout to be, there will be something for you.

There are a wide range of professional fitness coaches you can choose to follow. Many also put together structured fitness programmes so they can give you a goal to work towards. Some workouts require the odd bit of equipment, such as dumbbells and a mat – however, there are also lots that just need you to press play and take part!

Here are just a few recommendations:

  • Yoga – check out the ‘Yoga with Adriene’ YouTube channel. 
  • Boxercise – check out the ‘Get Fit with Rick’ YouTube channel.  
  • Barre Ballet – check out the ‘Barre with Andrea’ YouTube channel. 
  • Fitness/weights (beginners onwards) – check out ‘The Body Coach TV’ YouTube channel. 
  • Fitness/weights (more advanced) – check out the ‘Caroline Girvan’ YouTube channel.

Couch to 5K

Running is a fantastic way to get fit and enjoy the outdoors. If you’re a beginner though, Couch to 5K is a free running plan, which will build you up to running 5km in just nine weeks. It involves three runs a week with rest days in between. Why not give it a go? Get running with Couch to 5K – NHS (www.nhs.uk).

Check what’s on at your local leisure centre

It’s worth contacting your local leisure centre or looking online to see if there are any free exercise classes or swimming pool sessions during the week. If you’re under 16 or over 60, or receive benefits, you may be entitled to free leisure services, so it’s worth checking this out.

Get your mates together in the park

Why not arrange to meet up with some friends in the park for a bit of exercise and a catch up? Many parks have facilities available, such as goal posts, basketball hoops, tennis courts and even outdoor gym equipment – which you can use when you like for free. Plus, a scheme called Our Parks offers free fitness classes and coaching at sites across the country – find out if there’s any near you!

Keep an eye out for online bargains!

Apps like Freecycle, Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace are a great place to pick up fitness bargains! Gym equipment, exercise balls and weights are popular items to give away or sell at cut prices when people are having a clear out or moving home. You might be surprised at what you can find!

Take advantage of the Government’s Bike2Work scheme

Cycling is a great way to keep fit and a free way to travel about – if it’s safe to do so. If you don’t have a bike though and can’t afford to get one, you could take advantage of the Bike2Work scheme. This is a Government initiative aimed at encouraging people to cycle to work.

First, find out if your employer is signed up to the scheme. If so, decide on the bike and accessories you want – up to the combined value of £1,000. These are initially paid for by your employer – then an amount is deducted from your wage over the next 12 months (before tax) to pay a proportion of this amount back. As your employer will be subsidised by the Government, you will get a discount of up to 42%…a great scheme to take advantage of!

These are just a few examples of how you can get fit without having to spend too much – if anything at all!

Don’t forget to also check out our Financial Wellbeing hub for further information: Physical health on a budget | PayPlan


Filed under Money Saving Ideas

This article was checked and deemed to be correct as at the above publication date, but please be aware that some things may have changed between then and now. So please don't rely on any of this information as a statement of fact, especially if the article was published some time ago.

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