If you’re having a hard time fitting a gym workout into your schedule or your budget, there are plenty of inexpensive workout accessories you can buy to help you stay fit in the comfort of your own home. There are also a multitude of web, phone and ipad apps that offer workout routines and supportive communities to help keep you motivated. When I was single and in my twenties, I worked out every morning and ran twice each day. It was easy because I had very few demands on my time outside of work. As soon as the kids started arriving, my gym days were over. Now, in the time it would take me to drive to the gym and return home, I’ve almost finished my workout.
Probably my most strenuous routine comes from yard work. We have four acres and I’m busy installing vegetable, herb and flower gardens. I’m also clearing out the honeysuckle from our wild blackberries and fallen trees from our woods. On the days I’m not in the yard, I cobble together a workout using inexpensive equipment I have at home.
The yoga mat was one of the first things I bought for home workouts. We have hardwood floors and simple stretches were painful without the mat. I’ve seen mats as low as $10, but I usually see them for around $15 to $20. Mine is two years old and still going strong. They are available in stores like Walmart and Target or you can pay a little more at specialty athletic stores.
You don’t have to use the mat for yoga. It comes in handy when doing stretches and strength exercises. Here are links to exercise sites and routines to help you make the most of your yoga mat.
Workouts with Yoga Mats
Fitness Magazine: 11 Poses for Beginners
Women’s Health Magazine: Yoga At Home
Yoga Journal: Yoga Sequence Builder (Create your own routine)
Yoga Studio App – $2.99 (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch)
Yoga – Free Web App (Free and paid versions)
You don’t have to be a bodybuilder to enjoy lifting weights and you can work out with low weight dumbbells in the comfort of your own home. These neoprene weights are a little safer than the old-style adjustable weight dumbbells I used to have. If you’re serious about it you can collect the different weights over time without spending too much. My five pound weights cost $6 each at Walmart and are a little more at Target.
Workouts with Dumbbells
Spark People (Videos) – Spark is my favorite online weight loss and fitness community
Creative BioScience – Dumbbell Workout
Greatist.com – 30 Dumbbell Exercises Missing from Your Routine
Walking is one of the best exercises around and involves nothing more than your own two feet and a good pair of walking shoes. You don’t have to be a power walker to get a little extra oomph out of your trek. Grab a pair of one or two pound neoprene or specially formed walking weights and hit the pavement. You should be able to get a set of walking weights for under $10.
Walking Workout Routines
Fitness Magazine: Walking Workouts
Prevention Magazine: Walking Training Program Calendar
These are also known as fitness, exercise and resistance bands. I was lucky enough to get a nice set at a very low price and use them at home or toss them in my suitcase to use when I travel. The bands provide some of the best resistance exercises for legs that I’ve found. They are especially nice for those of us with knees that no longer allow us to do squats. They are great for arms too! My set cost only $18 and included several bands, cuffs and gadgets for attaching to furniture and doors. A comparable set on Amazon runs around $30.
Stretch Band Workouts
Greatist.com – 33 Resistance Band Exercises
Fitness Magazine – Resistance Band Workouts
Real Simple – 6 Easy Resistance Band Workouts
Fitness balls are also called stability, gym and exercise balls. This is a new favorite addition to my routine. I sit for long periods at my computer and carry a lot of tension in my back between my shoulder blades. I love stretching my back out on my fitness ball. I purchased my fitness ball from target for about $15 and Walmart sells a very inexpensive weight ball by Gold’s Gym for under $10. You can find more expensive versions at specialty fitness stores.
Fitness Ball Workouts
Fitness magazine – Our Top 8 Stability Ball Exercises
Greatist.com – 20 Super-Effective Stability Ball Exercises
Gym Ball Workout App
Don’t laugh! The Wii and its video game platform competitors offer a wide variety of dance and exercise games that can get you up off the couch. When my children were younger we enjoyed competing on Wii Fit and as new games have come out we’ve danced to Just Dance and Zumba. There are plenty of other titles out there, so if you own a video game console, check out the titles that can get you moving. Most games can be found used or at discount prices, but even at full price you wind up spending less than a gym membership.
Wii Workout Titles
Dance, Dance Revolution
Walk It Out
Active Life Explorer