Do I need to join a gym in order to gain the benefits of regular exercise?

You can obtain the benefits of regular exercise without joining a gym by remaining active on your own terms. For individuals, a gym membership affords the opportunity to create a social experience out of working out, thereby enhancing motivation to keeping a healthy and fit lifestyle.  A gym also provides access to what would otherwise be considered somewhat unreasonably expensive exercise equipment. Gyms also typically employ personal fitness trainers who can provide you with additional education or accountability if this is something you need. If you have the motivation to workout independently, and a basic understanding of what it takes to be physically active, you can easily obtain similar results without the added expense of a gym membership.

In order to obtain the benefits of regular exercise, your primary activities should involve cardiorespiratory and resistance training.  Any activity that places demand on both the cardiovascular and respiratory systems for an extended period of time will fulfill your requirements of this type of training (30 minutes is ideal).  You can accomplish this on your own through activities such as running, biking, and hiking.  However, it is suggested that you engage in activities that you enjoy, so do not exclude options such as roller blading, swimming, or others.

The benefits of resistance training include increased lean body mass (muscle tissue), reduced body fat, increased strength and bone density, to name a few.  Typically resistance training is thought of in terms of exercise equipment, however you can still gain benefits by incorporating body weight exercises such as push ups, lunges, and squats.  You also can look into purchasing inexpensive equipment to use at home such as stability balls, resistance tubing, and hand weights.  By purchasing these types of equipment, you will expand your options at a lower cost and incorporate change and creativity in your workouts.
Wendy Batts

Absolutely not! Regular exercise is about regular activity, not regular gym workouts. Find activities that you enjoy doing and plan on engaging in them regularly.  Be sure to work hard and have fun in whatever you do. The gym sometimes helps to provide a routine or a social element to regular activity that can be very helpful. Be sure to recruit family and friends in your non-gym exploits to gain the same benefits.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.