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Ditch the bulge this January - for next to nothing!

By Emma
Ditch the bulge this January - for next to nothing!

Everybody feels in need of some exercise around this time of year; not only does it help your figure spring back, but it can help fight the winter blues as well 

There’s only one problem with embarking on a new fitness programme in January; your bank balance. An expensive gym membership will only push you further into the red so if you’re feeling the pinch financially, as well as from the waistband on your jeans, look no further. Here’s how to shift the pounds, whilst saving them too.

Running

Getting outside is one of the best ways to exercise, particularly at this time of year. Fresh air and a good fitness routine are key to avoiding SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and with mornings and evenings actually getting lighter you have no excuse for staying indoors. The best thing about running is that you only need yourself and a good pair of trainers to get on with it. If you’re no marathon runner start off using scout’s pace – this involves short runs separated by periods of walking. Even doing a few short runs as fast as you can can have noticeable benefits until you build up your fitness

Essential kit: Comfortable running shoes are must, to give proper support and cushioning.

Working out with friends

A great alternative to signing up for an expensive exercise class or a personal trainer is to start a do-it-yourself fitness group with friends. You could start a boot camp in your local park and take it in turns to shout commands at your mates. If that’s not your thing you could take your yoga mats to each other’s homes and try new poses together or step it up a gear with dance or an aerobics class. Watch a few ‘how to’ videos online before you start for ideas and safety tips, then go for it! This is a great way to meet up, share skills and get fit, whilst spending next to nothing.

Essential piece of kit: Friends (and a camera to record the evidence)

Swimming

If you’re used to doing a few lengths at your swanky gym and spa, you may think that your weekly swim is a bit of a luxury. This doesn’t have to be the case. Your local pool provides a functional, rather than glamorous swimming experience but it allows you to get your exercise in for around £3 a time, depending on where you live. If you’re feeling adventurous there are plenty of outside swimming areas across the country that you can use. The Serpentine, in Hyde Park has its own swimming club, which uses the lake all year round- even on Christmas day! The club charges £20 for a whole year’s membership. For braver swimmers, if you’re lucky enough to live by the sea, you can take a dip for free. Just remember to wear a wetsuit to keep warm and don’t risk it in adverse weather conditions.

Essential kit: A good swimsuit or wetsuit for chillier dips. 

Walking and Hiking

In winter, when weekday evenings are dark and depressing, it’s even more important than usual to make the most of your weekend. Combine your fitness regime with your sense of adventure and get out into the great outdoors. Hiking is a brilliant way to see some countryside scenery whilst burning the calories. The UK has some lovely walking routes from Wales to the Lake District and you can take as fast or slow as you like: you’re sure to find a lovely B&B and country pub to take the strain once you’re finished.

Essential kit: Comfortable shoes or hiking boots for hardcore walkers.

Avoiding the bus

If you’re too busy at the moment to even think about exercise, you can still get in some valuable cardio on your way to or from uni. If you live walking distance away from your campus but normally take the bus to save time, take a look at your morning routine and see if there’s a way you could get there under your own steam. It might mean waking up 15 minutes earlier or planning your work outfit the night before.

Essential kit: An alarm clock and a pair of comfortable flat shoes

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