4 Easy Ways to Stay Active Outside of the Gym

Just 20 minutes of activity a day could add three to seven years to your life


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Let’s face it, going to the gym isn’t for everyone. Not to mention, not all of us have the extra funds to afford a pricey membership. Still, you can find all kinds of ways to stay active on the cheap all year long. Best of all, many of these activities cost nothing and have huge health benefits to help you live longer and feel better, physically and mentally. In fact, The European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress found that those who engaged in regular activity, like a 20-minute daily walk or anything to get your heart pumping, experienced anti-aging benefits that could add an additional three to seven years to your life.

1. Enjoy the amazing benefits of a long walk.

Anyone of all fitness levels can enjoy this outdoor activity. A long walk or hike costs nothing at all and not only can help you stay slim but also gives a chance to relax in nature with sunshine and fresh air. You can turn this activity into a form of meditation by practicing mindfulness and quieting your thoughts during your walk to help manage stress and relieve anxiety. Aside from making your jeans a little looser, walking also has many health benefits, like reducing the risk for diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and osteoporosis, improving blood pressure, and enhancing mental well-being.

2. Go cycling for your health and the environment.

Whether you prefer more rigorous mountain biking on rocky terrain or would rather enjoy a leisurely ride on the boardwalk by the sea, you can make this outdoor activity as intense as you want. Cycling also provides a more environmentally-friendly and affordable form of transportation to get to work, run errands, or visit friends. If you don’t own a bike, many cities have bike share and rentals that cost very little. Cycling uses all major muscle groups and increases cardiovascular fitness, boosts muscle strength and joint mobility, decreases stress, strengthens bones, improves posture, and prevents depression.

3. Save money with home workouts.

Those who live in seasonal climates can’t enjoy an outdoor workout all year long. The internet has tons of videos online that cost nothing at all (YouTube has lots of them, Fitness Blender, for example). Push aside the coffee table and try out an online yoga class or HIIT workout. You can find equipment-free options that use bodyweight with toning exercises like squats, lunges, push-ups, planks, crunches, and yoga poses. You can also find workouts that incorporate inexpensive hand weights and resistance bands. Beyond building muscle, strength training improves joint flexibility, reduces risk for injury, increases flexibility, and even boosts self-esteem and brain power.

4. Stay fit in chilly weather with winter activities.

If you live in a colder climate, it can become difficult to stay active when the cold weather sets in. Winter activities like ice skating, skiing, sledding, and even snowball fights will warm you up when it's cold outside. Ice skating makes a great option for a low-impact workout that strengthens leg muscles without putting too much stress on joints. The more adventurous can try out skiing, a form of exercise that strengthens thigh muscles, increases cardiovascular health, and promotes deep sleep. Of course, nothing beats a good ol’ snowball fight or an afternoon sledding down snowy hills for a fun way to stay active outdoors during the wintertime.