Want to lose weight or get fit in 2020? Millions of people will have that as their main New Year’s Resolution.
Don’t rush out join a gym… It’s the most expensive of all the options and most people give up after a few weeks.
Here are some suggestions, all free or low cost. The aim is to spend as little as possible until you find out what will suit you and fit with your life.
Walk your way to fitness
Walking can be the perfect way to start if you aren’t at all fit.
Look for ways to incorporate more walking into your daily routine:
- take the stairs not the lift,
- get off the bus one stop earlier,
- meet a friend for a walk in the park rather than a coffee,
- listen to music, podcasts or an audiobook – keeping things interesting is the best way to keep going.
Counting your steps is an easy way to aim to do a bit more each day. You don’t need to buy a Fitbit, just use your phone:
- iOS phones have Apple’s Health app already installed;
- for Android, look at Google Fit – Fitness Tracking.
If you would like to be sociable as well, see if there is a Walking For Health scheme near you. If you have time regularly and would love a dog, but can’t have one in your flat or can’t afford the commitment, look at whether you could volunteer for the Cinnamon Trust.
If you have never run before the Couch to 5k app will get you up to running five kilometres – that’s about three miles – in a nine-week programme:
Probably the biggest challenge a novice runner faces is not knowing how or where to start. Often when trying to get into exercise, we can overdo it, feel defeated and give up when we’re just getting started. Couch to 5K works because it starts with a mix of running and walking, to gradually build up your fitness and stamina.
The first week involves running for intervals of a minute with walking in between. This makes the challenge feel achievable right from the start. Your phone tells you what you need to do. It’s from the NHS, so you will be in safe hands.
Running won’t just get you fit, you will lose weight too.
You could get hooked. Here is what happened when a blogger decided to do Couch to 5k.
And then keep it up!
Park Runs are free five kilometer events organised across the country on Saturday mornings. All ages and shapes of people take part. You aren’t trying to get selected for the 2020 Olympics, at the start you are just trying to finish! After that if you want you can try to beat your previous time. There are junior Parkruns for 4-14s if your kids sound interested.
Or become a volunteer Park Run helper, inspired by this wacky video.
There are lots of free apps such Strava that will encourage you to do a little bit better (longer or faster) than your previous best time on whatever route you choose. It’s good for hiking and cycling as well.
Who wouldn’t run with a zombie behind them!
If gentle persuasion and tips sound dull, join the 1 million people using the Zombies, Run! app:
Only a few have survived the zombie epidemic. You are a Runner en-route to one of humanity’s last remaining outposts. They need your help to gather supplies, rescue survivors, and defend their home. And you have another mission — one they don’t know about…
You can walk, jog or run – or even use it on a stationary bike at home or in the gym. The first four missions, and then an extra mission each week, are free so you can find if this works for you. After that, it’s $2.99 a month to get access to more than 200 missions.
British Military Fitness is the best known of the outdoor exercise classes. If you think being shouted at may motivate you, give one of their free sessions a try. Then you can just pay monthly, so if you change your mind, you aren’t locked into a long-term gym contract for a year.
Yoga, Pilates, Dance
Signing up for a session of classes is a commitment, but it’s a lot less expensive than that gym membership.
Options at home that don’t need special equipment
Youtube to lose weight, get fitter and stretch in private
Turn to Youtube and DVDs for a large range of ways to get fit:
- if you are feeling ambitious, get Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred DVD. At £4.99 if it turns out to be a mistake, at least it’s a pretty cheap one;
- walk your way to fitness in front of your PC or tablet. Try Walk Challenge 2019 – Week 1 | Walk at Home – a 6 weeks, covering 80 miles;
- a reader recommends these two Yoga videos: Gentle Hatha Yoga Full Class – 20 min Yoga for Beginners and Gentle Yoga Flow – 30-Minute All Levels Yoga Class.
- Dance with your kids to these Disney Dance-alongs.
Doing these at home means no-one is watching you – perfect for when you lack confidence and are starting out.
You also save money on classes, don’t need special exercise clothes and it’s easier to fit in sessions around your busy life.
Improve your strength and flexibility
Strength and Flex is a series of podcasts from the NHS, with videos to show how the exercises should be done. These are a gentle introduction, with the final podcast being suitable for doing regularly when you have finished the program.
If you already know how to do exercises such as push-ups, have a go at the New York Times’ 7-Minute Workout. It’s a free app going through a seven-minute program of twelve exercises with short ten-second breaks between them. Do it at home, you just need a chair and a wall, no special gym equipment.
Want to track your calories?
MyFitnessPal is a free app that makes it easier to record what you are eating and track the calories. It remembers what you’ve eaten in the past, making it easy for you to add those foods again to your log. It’s also got some active forums where you can get moral support, ideas and recipes along the way.
Here is another great site from the NHS, with games that will encourage your kids to be more active Change 4 Life – fun ideas for kids. It also has a lot of recipes, all easy to make and using just a few common ingredients, including ones for fussy eaters and ideas for lunchboxes.