With the new year often comes a resolution to lose weight, get in shape or otherwise improve health. Gym memberships, personal trainers and coaches are often outside the budget for students, however, and many of these may not be an option at the moment. The good news is that you have many options to get fit for free.
1. Walk instead of ride.
Depending on your location, you may be able to walk to school, work and shops instead of driving the car or getting on a bus or train. Besides increased health benefits, you'll save money on car maintenance, parking and fuel.
2. Use household items or public structures.
Find a convenient set of stairs, track or trail to get in a good cardio workout. For strength training, start with a bottle of water and graduate to a bottle filled with sand; then move on to larger jugs as you get stronger. If you'd like to increase agility and flexibility, design your workout around park benches, playgrounds or even your living room furniture.
3. Search for free equipment.
Start at home; you may have family members who have invested in machines, weights, mats, balls and other equipment and then abandoned them. You can also search or advertise on online sites like Craigslist or Freecycle for equipment that other people no longer want.
4. Download a fitness plan or app.
If you need a structured schedule to stay on track or if you aren't sure what you should do when, look online or in an app store. Free tools are available for all fitness levels and goals.
5. Mix it up.
If you tend to get bored with a workout, search out free podcasts, TV shows and online videos or check the library for videos and books. You can switch to another program easily as soon as you get tired of your current one, or vary your routines daily to avoid burnout.
6. Use student facilities and programs.
If you're a college student or a high school student taking college classes from a nearby campus, check out the athletic and recreation facilities. You may have free or nearly free access to equipment and spaces. If you're in high school, check with the coaches and administrators on open gym times, weight room availability and track policies.
7. Join or create a team.
If you find it difficult to stay motivated on your own, consider joining others. Check whether school teams and intramural, community and amateur leagues are operating. Even setting up a virtual competition or partnership can be motivating.
8. Become a friend of dogs.
With today's lifestyles, many pet owners would gladly allow a responsible student to walk, jog or play with their dogs on a regular basis. In fact, a lot of owners will pay students to do just that, so you can earn money while getting in some exercise.
Look for a volunteer opportunity that will allow you to get a good workout in on the job site. Communities often have home building and repair organizations, clean up committees and landscape crews that rely heavily on volunteers. If your community doesn't have any, consider starting one or just help out your neighbors. Shoveling snow from several driveways or push-mowing a few lawns a week will keep you in shape.
10. Improve your diet.
Free recipes and meal plans are widely available online to help you create a shopping list of healthful foods. If you're unsure what type of dietary change is best for you, ask your family doctor at your next checkup or check for advice from the campus health clinic. You can also see if you can set up a free, no-obligation appointment with a nutritionist at your local grocery store or weight loss center; just be sure you won't have an obligation to pay for any future services when you make the appointment.