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How to Stay Active Without Going to the Gym

Updated on January 11, 2016

Getting Started

Just because you don't have the extra time or money to go to a gym doesn't mean that you can't still live an active life. And let's face it, not everyone feels comfortable working out in front of a bunch of people.

I'll be honest, I love going to the gym. I love all the different workout options. I love how motivated it makes me. But, I don't love how busy it can be. I don't like how the number of people fluctuates every few months with people trying to get in shape and then losing interest. I want to be able to go at my normal time, and use the machines I want to. I don't want to be judged by the ripped guys lifting obscenely heavy weights. I don't want to have to wait to use my favorite cardio machine. And, most of all I can't afford to pay the monthly payments right now. I know most people will say its only $30, and its an investment in the future, but that doesn't change the fact that the money doesn't exist.

So, if you are like me and are used to being active, or want to get into the swing of things, but don't like the gyms scene or don't have the money you are looking for ways to stay active on your own. I will share some things that have worked for me, some things that haven't, and what I hope to try. By no means am I a personal trainer. I am not a doctor. And I don't do this for a living. I am just someone that stays in shape for their own personal reasons and I want to share what I have learned.

Martial arts was my preferred activity in high school.
Martial arts was my preferred activity in high school.

Running and Walking

I used to run all the time. In high school I would go for a five mile run like it was no big deal. In college my runs got shortened to three miles and I added in the gym on campus. After college somehow my runs became two miles on a good day and three miles if I was feeling suicidal. I have no idea what happened. I even tried running with my roommates dogs, but that was a disaster. I thought that was going to be the end of my home cardio.

A few months ago I became a mom to a rescued Boston terrier and my life changed. I thought one walk a day would be fine for her. Nope. Two? Sometimes. Truth be told this little puppy has enough energy to go on a mile long walk three or more times a day. Not only is she getting the exercise she needs but I am too. When I have a day off I will go on three or four walks with her, when I work I'm lucky if I can get two half mile walks in.

I've noticed so many changes since I have started walking her more often. I feel better about myself. I'm happier. I've started making healthier eating choices, for no reason other than I feel like it. I have so much more energy at home and at work. I look forward to taking her out.

I'm not saying that you need to go out and get a puppy to go on walks. And I'm not saying that going on a walk is going to change your life. But, I can guarantee that if you go from nothing at all to a one mile walk a day you will see changes. After a little while a mile won't feel that long and you will go further. Walking is good for the body and a nice way to enjoy a day of lovely weather. If you want to give running a try go for it! I just recommend starting at your own pace. Don't try to go out and sprint for a mile or two. You will get discouraged and you will stop. It is also a good way to hurt yourself. No matter if you are walking or running don't compare yourself to other people. Just be you.

Have you ever wanted to try a workout video from an infomercial?

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Home Strength Training

Have you ever wanted to try yoga but didn't want to look like a fool in front of a bunch of people? have you ever watched those infomercials for various homework out videos and thought about giving them a try? You aren't alone. Trust me. Every informercial I see I sit there and think about how amazing the product is. (I guess it's a good thing I'm so broke...) You can do all these things. I promise. I suggest getting yourself a nice yoga mat, even if you don't intend to do yoga. I do all of my at home strength training on my yoga mat. That way I don't get rug burns from my carpet and I'm protected with padding from the hardwood floor.

There are dozens of people with youtube channels and blogs dedicated to at home fitness. It was from watching youtube videos and trying to do what I say that I found that I am really bad at yoga. I'm not a patient person and I like a much more active workout. It was nice, but not a workout for me. I'm also really bad at zumba, but it is really fun. I just don't want other people seeing me attempt to dance.

I found t that I like to create my own strength training routine. After I take my dog for her first walk of the day I like to my little routine. I do some jumping jacks, a couple different kinds of crunches, push-ups, and different workout for my butt and legs. Let me tell you squats can do wonders for your butt, but boy do they burn. If things ever start to feel routine I change things up. Maybe leg lifts and Russian twists instead of crunches, and other things like that. If you ever don't know what something is go to youtube. It will be there. Just make sure that whatever you do the technique is right. You won't get much of a workout if you do it wrong, and even worse you could hurt yourself.

No matter what you do don't expect results overnight. There is no magic workout that will make you drop 10 pounds in one day or get a six pack overnight. No matter what the informercials say. Just stick with your routine. It will be hard and there will be days when you want to give up. Just give yourself one day each week to rest your body and keep going. You will never regret it. Even if you are just doing a few jumping jacks, push-ups, and crunches each day. It is something and you are moving.

No matter what activity you do make sure that you stretch!
No matter what activity you do make sure that you stretch!


Make sure that no matter what you are doing to stay active you are drinking water. Even if you don't normally drink water everyday your body is going to need it. Remember if you are sweating or thirsty you are already dehydrated.


Believe it or not but cleaning your house can help keep you active. I don't know about you but when I get really into cleaning I can spend a few hours scrubbing, vacuuming, and dusting. And my apartment isn't even that big. My arms are usually sore and tired after a day of cleaning too. This is good. This means that I was up and moving around. I was using muscles that apparently I don't use that often.

To me this is a win win. You want to move around and be active and your house needs to be cleaned every so often. Depending on how neat you are you might not need to clean your house that often. But, I think it is reasonable to set an aside a few hours every coupled of weeks to clean. Work up a good sweat! I know I feel really accomplished after I have cleaned, especially if I have gotten a nice workout while I did it.

Youtube is Your Friend

There are tons of videos like this on youtube. If I am not feeling original, or if I want to try something new I just do a quick search for what I want, say 10 minute workout videos. Ta-da! Instant results. You name it, youtube has it.

If you are like me it is one thing for me to read about how to do something in word form. But, it is another thing entirely if someone is there showing me how to do something. Remember when I said to make sure that you have the proper technique or you could hurt yourself? These videos are great because most of them will go over form and allow you to see how something should look. That way you can attempt to mirror it at home.

I consider marching band and color guard to be great activities for staying active
I consider marching band and color guard to be great activities for staying active


  • Wear comfortable clothing. When was the last time you saw someone run a marathon in a pair of skinny jeans? I thought not.
  • Make sure you drink water before, during, and after your workout.
  • Reward yourself for your efforts. Take a long bath, have a glass of wine, anything.
  • Make a workout playlist that gets you going.
  • Make time for a rest day.
  • Don't expect immediate results. It doesn't matter if you are trying to lose a size or two or thirty pounds. It isn't going to happen overnight. Relax, these things take time.
  • Eating healthier will help make the changes more dramatic. Of course, it will still take time for you to notice any changes.
  • Have fun with it!

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