How can I exercise if I don’t like the gym?

Exercise is important for everyone. Still, if you have suffered a limb loss, you have to make an effort to keep your muscles strong and joints moving in full range of motion. Exercising at home may allow you to choose the time of day and exercise at your own pace. In addition, with all the new home exercise equipment and videotapes, all you have to pop in the tape or use the machine to get moving-- no matter how inclement the weather is outside. 

If you are just getting started with exercise, read the classified advertisements for used exercise equipment such as electronic treadmills or stationary bicycles. Online auctions usually have these for sale and at greatly reduced prices. Some basics you might consider include:
  • Rubber mats, for doing stretches, and yoga, postures. 
  • Lightweights
  • Workout gloves to protect your hands from holding the weights
  • Exercise bands or tubes to use with isometric exercises
  • Instructional videos in beginning yoga, tai chi, and stretching exercises
  • A fit ball, which are used by physical therapists for stretching the lower back and doing abdominal work (be sure to ask your physical therapist for proper instructions) 
  • A full-length mirror to make sure your posture is correct during your stretching and other exercises
Doing exercise at the gym is beneficial in some ways for example having access to personal trainers, group classes and equipment but exercise can be done anywhere. It is so much nicer to start by finding an exercise activity that you like. Most of these activities are not gym related. For example, gardening, bicycle riding or walking. These can all be done from your home and outdoors. It is actually so much better to exercise outdoors. The sun and fresh air feed your brain some really good energy and nutrients. You can incorporate physical activity into your already busy days by taking the stairs or parking your car a little further away from your office. You can also hire a personal trainer to come into your home and help you set up an at home workout routine that incorporates functional at home exercise utilizing very little equipment. 
There are hundreds of ways. Where do I start? First off this is what I specialize in-"using your body as your gym." You don't need any equipment to accomplish your goals. Try some of the numerous videos I have posted on my profile. You can do them in the comfort of your own home. They are short, show 3 levels (beginner, intermediate and advanced), and for all ages. Feel free to post on my page if you are uncertain of which one to try and I will point you in the right direction. Lets get grooving and accomplishing your goals. Get a friend who has similar goals and go for a hike/walk and burn some calories while you catch up.
Don't like the gym? No problem! You can still lead a fit and healthy lifestyle. There are literally hundreds of ways you can exercise without ever stepping foot into a gym. All you really need is a good imagination.

Finding activities you enjoy doing is critical. You are much more likely to continue exercising if you enjoy doing so. If you're a dog lover like me, take your dog for daily walks. You can also try to play fetch, frisbee, and soccer with your dog. I love doing these activities because I always end up laughing really hard which puts me in a great mood for the rest of the day!

If you have exercise equipment at home (dumbbells, resistance bands, or a stability ball), take them out of the closet and create your own little resistance training program or bootcamp to do two to three times a week.

For your daily cardio, choose an activity that will raise your heart rate and increase you breathing rate. This could really include anything from cleaning your house, working in your garden, dancing around the house, playing with your children, jump roping, cycling, taking the stairs, going for a brisk walk around the neighborhood with your next door neighbor, or walk down to the local park for a quick outdoor exercise session.

The opportunities for exercise outside the gym are endless. So, if you're not a gym rat that's ok! You can still get yourself healthy and in great shape.
Mr. Donovan Green
Athletic Training
Going to the gym can sometimes be very boring for many plus expensive. A gym is a place of conference and socializing. You do not have to go to a gym to exercise. You can get a great workout right in the comfort of your own home where no one is watching and you can workout on your own time for as long as you like. if you do not want to work out in your house then you can go to your neighborhood playground early in the morning and workout for free. The point is you can exercise any where you go and feel great about yourself.
Senior Woman Using Gym Machine

There are many ways to exercise if you don’t like going to the gym. In fact, you can get a great workout exercising outside by walking, running, biking, hiking, gardening, etc. You can create a very effective workout routine inside your home by creating your own mini-circuits in your living room. You can do push-ups (even against the wall if you are a beginner), body weight squats, lunges or by using a jump rope for cardio. You can purchase workout DVD’s to perform at home (there are great ones out there), or even turn on your favorite music and dance. The key is finding something you enjoy. Have fun with it!

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
There are tons of ways to exercise without a gym. First, buy a pedometer to count your steps. Soon you’ll be walking all over the place. You can also try exercises classes or DVD on home TV like zumba or yoga. You’ll be amazed at how fun they are. You could even join a sports team. Tennis, soccer, even kickball are great ways to work out and make new friends. Or, at the very least, you can always exercise at home! There are plenty of workouts that use your body and household items as a gym. Even stepping of the intensity of some household chores can be a work out. Did you know that scrubbing floors for 30 minutes can burn 189 calories? To get yourself started, get the YOU: On a Diet II DVD or check out the Transform You2 program. You’ll be getting as good a work out as you would at a gym, but saving some major dough. Remember form is important, so get a trainer or knowledgeable friend to check you out periodically.
Dr. Mike Clark, DPT
You don't have to go the gym to get the benefits of a resistance training workout.  Make the world your gym!  Watch this video for more tips!

Don’t like the gym, don’t worry!  Use the list below for ways to stay active without every stepping foot inside a fitness center!

  • Walk, jog, run, or bike.  Being outside is one of the best ways to stay active and enjoy all that nature has to offer
  • Go for a hike.  Find a local trail, bring a camera and nature book, and enjoy!
  • Purchase home equipment.  Equipment such as dumbbells, resistance bands, stability balls, bosu balls, foam rollers.  Most of this equipment is under $100 and the possibilities and exercises are endless!
  • Purchase DVD’s.  Some of the best forms of exercise come in DVDs.  These will help keep you motivated and push you towards your goals!

Finding ways to stay active does not require much more than a pair of shoes and appropriate attire.  However, be sure to stay active!  If you are not a fan of a fitness center then find something that will give you that incentive to push yourself on a daily basis.

Brad Lamm
Addiction Medicine

Think "moving meditation" rather than exercise. If exercise feels like another "should" for you, consider dropping the concept of exercise and just move. Select a moving meditation that would be fun for you, at a time that works for you. For example, take your dog for a walk after work, before dinner, and walk as long as you both feel like walking. No rules, no "shoulds", just a pleasant, loving time to enjoy being with your best friend outside. 

walking, exercise, outdoors, healthy, calories, burn calories, wellness, health partner, trainer, family, dog, walking dog
You do not need a gym to be healthy and reach your fitness goals. First thing you need to do is find something you find enjoyable. If you do not enjoy a physical activity, chances are you will not continue to do it over time. Once you find something you like to do that requires you to move and get your heart rate up, you will continue to do it and slowly become more active in your daily life. If you have a family try to incorporate some things you can do as a family that is active. For example, "just dance" on the Wii is a fun interactive game you can do with the whole family or by yourself. Once you start doing something consistently, eventually you will get in the habit of moving more and making it a lifestyle change, but you just have to start somewhere, no matter how little it is, just start!
Dr. Robin Miller, MD
Internal Medicine
There are many ways to exercise if you do not like the gym. In fact, those who are able to maintain a successful exercise program are able to do it by making it part of their lives. You can do that by finding something you like to do. Some people enjoy bicycling, walking, and running. Gardening and vacuuming can also be great exercise. You might want to walk or bicycle to work. Make sure you take the stairs and avoid elevators. You do not need a gym for any of these activities.  

A great way to get exercise is to do ballroom dancing. It is fun and you do not even realize that it is exercise. Learning new steps is also a great way to exercise your mind as well.
Jorge Cruise

You can stay fit and firm without hitting the gym and, best of all, you only need five minutes a day. Find out the secret by watching this video featuring fitness expert and author Jorge Cruise.

Sarah LoBisco
Integrative Medicine
No matter what form, there is good scientific evidence of the benefits of movement. A study in the International Journal of Epidemiology reported that even moderate activity lowers all-cause mortality. Several studies have shown that simply walking everyday can decrease the chance of various effects of certain chronic diseases. Other benefits of proper exercise include better brain function, happier moods, a decrease in inflammation (as long as exercise isn't overdone), appetite regulation, and stress relief. Therefore, getting our body to move is not just an important component to weight loss but to overall health.

Not everyone can be a size 2, but everyone has a natural state of wellness where they feel good and their body is strong and healthy. Be flexible, exercise doesn’t have to be a curse word, but a form of self-care and enjoyment. Be willing to allow your regime to change with time and your needs.

I personally am shifting from extreme exercise to more gentle yoga and martial art forms. I'm finding that for myself and my clients when the focus changes from seeking external perfection to health and balance, amazing results follow.
For many people the gym is a great way to work out. It's a place they can stay focused and on task, it's social, and it keeps them accountable. 

If you're not that person, there are many alternatives to the gym. The important thing is to ask yourself what you really like to do. Choosing a way to stay active that brings pleasure to your life is the best way to stay accountable.
Do you like to walk, swim, ride a bike, dance?

Are you happiest when surrounded by others or do you need time to rejuvenate on your own. Are you a morning person, or do you come alive at night? Do you like to have a predictable set schedule or does that bore you and leave you feeling restricted? Being able to identify these behaviors will start to reveal what kinds of activities may be best for you.

If you're social and need structure to keep you on track, then taking a group class or joining a walking group that meets at the same each week may be just the thing to keep you motivated. 

If you're practical and task oriented you may find adding movement into your daily routine by using a hand mower to mow your lawn or putting on loud music and dancing as you clean your house leaves you feeling more accomplished than taking an hour out of your day specifically for exercise.

Swimming is a wonderful solitary exercise you can do if you need quiet to get you back on track. You'll be restoring your energy and getting a terrific workout at the same time.

The most important thing is that you move, and you don't need a set place to do that!
Sadie Lincoln
There are many forms of exercise that can be done outside a gym. From the very basics of walking, jogging or biking outdoors, to the more creative at home or destination workouts. You can pick up hand-held weights or resistance bands fairly cheap and try an at-home strengthening routine or a little dancing in your living room for cardio. On nice days find a park. A bench seat is a great place for push ups and the monkey bars will take you back to when you were a kid. At barre3 we created our online and app programs just for those who don’t have time to go to the gym or make it to one of our studios. Times range from 10 minutes to an hour, showing our clients that you don’t have to have a full block of time or fancy equipment to get a great workout in.

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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.