Fitness for free

Keeping fit doesn’t have to cost a fortune. If you can’t afford to join a gym or pay fitness class fees, try some of these ideas.

  • Walking and jogging

    On a sunny day, there’s nothing to beat a brisk walk (with or without a dog) or jog in the open air. You could even include a few stretches, press-ups or tricep dips on benches along the way to expand your work-out if you are fit enough. There are plenty of places in the Bath area to do this. One of the local city favourites is along the canal towpath. The Bath Skyline route (map at www.nationaltrust.org.uk) is another popular walking trail. On a summer’s morning, you’ll meet plenty of others doing the same. There are also some regular free guided health walks available – use the search function or look in Class listings on this site. Getting outside has been shown to lead to a greater feeling of vitality, and being in nature can really lift your mood.

  • Cycling

    If you have a bike, get yourself the local cycling map showing the best routes in the B&NES area (free from libraries and tourist information), including traffic-free sections eg parts of the Colliers Way, the Bristol & Bath Railway Path, Kennet & Avon Cycle Route etc.

  • Swimming

    Although not free, the local pools are not very expensive and swimming is an excellent exercise for all. See below for B&NES Sports Centres.

  • Green gyms and volunteering activities

    Some volunteering activities, such as tree planting, can provide physical exercise together with the wellbeing associated with helping others. You could offer to help on an allotment or with an elderly neighbour’s garden etc.

  • Everyday fitness

    Everyday fitness can be as simple as running up the stairs or walking more briskly to the shops, or getting off the bus one stop early etc. Use the time it takes to boil the kettle to do some squats/lunges/calf raises or bicep curls with a couple of tins, or a few side-bends etc. Do a few more exercises when the adverts are on the telly; eg chair dips, box press-ups or sit-ups. Dance around the room when your favourite tunes are on. Take as many opportunities as possible during each day to get moving and be active.

    With some hand weights and resistance bands, it’s easy to do simple routines at home. Some people use fitness dvds, Wii Fit, hula hoops or skipping ropes. You can sometimes get free fitness equipment from community free recycling sites such as Bath Freegle.

    Yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates: once you’ve learnt some of the exercises/poses from a teacher, these are easy to practice at home or in the garden.

  • Join in with family and friends

    Exercising can be more fun with other people. Arrange to meet up for walks/runs/bike rides/swims etc. There are several local health walks, running clubs and rambling groups.

    For families, you can play Frisbee, football, cricket, hide-and-seek, tag or hula hooping etc with the kids in the park. You could even take a healthy picnic in the summer and make a day of it.

  • Useful contacts

    B&NES’ Sports and Active Leisure team has a ‘Get Active’ strategy in place with various initiatives to help people increase their activity levels – ring the Sport and Active Leisure team on 01225 369429 or see www.bathnes.gov.uk/getactive

    For ideas on walking and cycling routes, see www.bathnes.gov.uk/transportandstreets/walkingandcycling/pages/default.aspx

    Age Concern B&NES runs  a ‘Fit as Fiddle’ programme of activities that includes walking groups, tai chi classes, Wii fit, dance & movement sessions – all low cost and aimed at pensioners. See www.acbanes.co.uk

    NHS Choices website has lots of indoor exercise ideas (www.nhs.uk)

    Additional useful information can be found at: www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/Pages/free-fitness

    For low-cost swimming and other activities, try the B&NES Sports Centres: