You don’t have to spend money on the latest classes and gym memberships to have fun working out.

It’s tempting to sign up to expensive gym memberships, buy a series of passes to the latest and most talked about workout programme, or download the just-released fitness app that requires a monthly subscription and promises to change your life, but the truth is, you don’t need those things to remain active and healthy. Here are three rewarding feel-good forms of exercises that you can do without breaking the bank…

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Create your own run club

Research shows that we exercise better and are more likely to actually stick to our workout regimen if we’re not doing it solo. Experts at Kansas State University believe that we naturally up our intensity, by as much as 200 percent, if we’re exercising with someone we think might be better than us, while further research shows that you’re more likely to continue to exercise if you’re accountable to an exercise companion, especially if they are emotionally supportive.

So, grab a friend and get moving. Create your own run club for two, or for however many you can entice to join you, and either plan a route together, preferably a scenic one, or use an app such as Couch to 5K which is a free app and brilliant for beginners. If you’re curious about running as part of a larger group, organised events such as parkrun take place across the UK on most weekends and do not cost a single penny to take part. We all need that sense of community, especially right now, and parkrun delivers that in spades.

Wild swimming

Wild swimming

Regular swim passes and pool admission can quickly add up but wild swimming is an excellent way to get in the laps, without the expense. While some outdoor swim locations do require a fee to enter (usually to cover the cost of maintaining the area and putting a lifeguard on duty), many others do not. 

Wild swimming locations

Wild swimming

Wild Swimming has a handy listing of almost all of the places around the UK where you can swim outside and if there is a cost or not; although most don’t. It also describes the conditions of your swim so you can find calm waters if you’re inexperienced as well as more challenging locations if you are a confident swimmer.

And don’t forget the sea! In the UK we are fortunate to have some of the best and cleanest beaches in the world, including those in Yorkshire, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Kent, Cornwall and Devon. In fact, wherever you are in the UK, you are never more than 70 miles from coastline, so be sure to indulge in any opportunity to explore and swim.

Walk and talk

Many of us have come to rely on daily walks to keep us mentally motivated and physically active, and walking with a friend or colleague has also afforded us the opportunity to talk about everything from what we’re experiencing and feeling, to the things we want to change and improve in our lives. Indeed, many therapists who pre-lockdown relied on in-person, clinic meetings, switched things up and headed out for walks with their patients so that they could talk in a more informal setting, in the company of nature. 

 

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Not only is this time to get things off your chest - for you and your walking companion- it’s an excellent way to maintain your step-count and improve your cardiovascular fitness. A brisk walk has been shown to help improve heart health and lower your risk of disease so don’t be fooled into thinking it doesn’t count towards your weekly exercise goals.

Keep things interesting and mix up your routes; you may find local parks you didn’t even know were in your area, and discover nature walks and woodland areas that are home to wildlife and other fun things to discover. Water, SPF and a comfortable pair of trainers are all you need to get on your way.

 

We're here to help

It's important to look after your mental wellbeing, and as we've seen, there are many ways to keep yourself physically and mentally healthy without trying to find the pennies to do so.

If your wellbeing is affecting your ability to communicate with us or manage your account, talk to us, we can support you and provide you with details for specialist organisations that can help you navigate through this tough time.

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