Get Buff on a Budget - Diabetes WA
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Exercise doesn’t have to mean spending lots of money on fancy gym clothes and memberships. There are many free or inexpensive ways to get fit. For most of us that live a busy, sedentary life, any movement at ALL is better than sitting in our office, car, or bed (which probably takes up most of our lives).

Here are some great ways to exercise which are absolutely free:

  • Laps around your local oval – Walking or jogging around your local sports oval is an easy way to add some cardio to your exercise routine. Use a stop watch to help track your progress and beat your personal best.
  • Walk your dog – Dogs are a great excuse to exercise. To keep things exciting, try taking your dog to a new location each week.
  • Enjoy a bushwalk – Bushwalks are a fun and different way to exercise and tackling some hills is a great way to increase your fitness level. The paths are usually free and easy to access.
  • Swim laps at your local beach – With each stroke you will engage most of the muscles in your body. It’s a refreshing way to work out outdoors. Don’t forget to swim between the flags.
  • Fitness apps and videos – There are lots of free apps you can download using your smartphone which explain a range of exercises you can do at home, often without equipment. You can also watch YouTube to physically see how to complete each exercise in practice.
  • Exercise with the kids or grandies – It’s a great idea to set kids a regular exercise routine. To keep things fun, grab a ball and kick it around in the backyard with the children after school. Or consider walking to the local shops instead of driving. Think about the area where you live and ways to engage your kids or grandkids in simple physical activities.
  • Meet some mates – Instead of meeting friends for drinks, meet at the local park for a game of soccer or a walk.
  • Use your legs – Leave the car at home and walk or ride a bike to work. When catching the bus, get off a stop earlier.

Getting the best gym deals

Some gyms can be expensive but if you like the environment and go often enough they can be cost effective. It will take some shopping around to find a gym that suits you. But don’t sign up on the spot.  Look out for:

  • New gym opening offers
  • Cheaper rates if you pay cash upfront or each time you visit rather than direct debit
  • No joining fee, or introductory offers such as getting the first month free
  • Student/senior discounts

Then decide what services you want from a gym:

  • Services – Child minding, showers or group exercise classes?
  • Opening hours – Are they convenient or would you prefer a 24 hour gym?
  • Gender specific – Is it important that it is a women’s only gym?
  • Contract length – How long is the contract period and are you locked in?
  • Equipment – Is the equipment what you use and is it usually available?

Once you decide which gym to join, always take the time to read the contract carefully before you sign it. There are often cancellation fees if you decide to end your membership early. You should also always check if there is a cooling off period.

Group exercise can be cost effective

Exercising in a group environment can increase motivation. You may feel inclined to exercise harder because of the supportive vibe.

  • Outdoor boot camps or group personal training – You can train with friends and family to make it more enjoyable and the times and prices are often flexible. Generally you are not locked into a contract and are able to pay per session.
  • Sporting teams – joining a sporting team can make exercise fun and players feel valued. Most local indoor sports centres and sport clubs are keen to get new members. Participation costs are often paid outright at the beginning of the season and can be much cheaper than a six-month gym membership.

This article originally appeared in Diabetes Matters Summer 2018/19 edition.

Tips reproduced with permission from ASIC’s money saving website –

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