Cheap workouts for students who don’t have time for the gym

Dan Vierria

World’s Laziest Person: And the winner is … Jessica, who circles parking lots a half-dozen times, waiting for the space 20 feet from the door.

Parking your car 100 feet or even 200 feet away and walking the extra steps would be (gasp!) exercise.

Adding steps to daily activities is free exercise. And “free” grabs everybody’s attention. Workouts don’t have to be scripted or costly propositions. Gym memberships and high-tech home workout machines are dandy, but expensive. Exercise can be done on the cheap.

Workout apparatuses are common at garage sales. Look for the shirts and pants hanging from the treadmill. A few bucks and you take home the treadmill or free weights. Chances are they’ll someday be part of your own garage sale, but until you can afford something better,

it’s a great buy.

Workout like Shaolin monks of the Hong Kong kung fu films by carrying containers of water. Instead of watering outdoor plant containers using a hose and watering wand, fill up a watering can.

Choose the faucet farthest from the containers. Fill the watering can, carry it and empty it. Repeat as needed. Water is heavy and lugging it around burns calories and strengthens muscles.

That swimming pool that’s already costing you money is laps waiting to happen. Or, it can serve as a body of water for low-impact aquatic exercises.

Hopeful of informing soft bodies of the opportunities for low-budget workouts, offers several tips. Some are familiar, such as neighborhood walks, mall walking and choosing stairs over elevators. No easy payments, no money down and not a stair-stepper in sight for any of those alternatives.

One freebie you may have never considered is hoisting canned goods. Rummage through your kitchen cabinets for these hand weights, perhaps a 6-ounce can of tomato paste or a whopper can of plum tomatoes. Weight and size are strictly up to your abilities. For really big cans, shop warehouse stores such as Costco.

More low-budget workout tips from the Mayo Clinic:

  • Potatoes: A bag of potatoes “can provide added resistance for various exercises.” If the 10-pound bag is too heavy, make potato salad before exercising.
  • Jump ropes: They’re great for cardiovascular workouts and are inexpensive. Borrow one from the kids to eliminate out-of-pocket money.
  • Resistance bands: Basically, giant rubber bands you stretch to provide resistance. Just about any muscle group can be worked using resistance bands. They can be held in each hand, threaded through door handles or placed under your feet.
  • Play with kids: When kids are booting a soccer ball around, join the fun. How about a family bike ride for bonding and fitness? Cycling is one of the best exercises.
  • County and city recreation departments offer low-cost fitness classes.
  • Used exercise equipment can be purchased from newspaper ads and some retail businesses specialize in used equipment. If you buy used online, check if shipping is included in the price. Weights can be costly when you’re paying the freight.
  • Swapping exercise DVDs with friends and co-workers will ease the boredom and save bucks.
  • Group sessions with trainers may also be an option you can explore. Ask personal trainers if they’ll reduce fees if a friend or two joins the sessions.

Dan Vierria

McClatchy Newspaper