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10 Ways to Lose Weight Without Paying for a Gym Membership

10 Ways to Lose Weight Without Paying for a Gym Membership

More than 68 percent of Americans are considered to be overweight, even though studies show that we are actually taking in fewer calories than a decade ago. The next step toward getting healthy is to reduce our stress levels and work out, but the average monthly gym fee of $40 is high for budget conscious individuals. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to lose weight for free.

1. Walk 30 Minutes a Day

Doctors have begun prescribing daily 30 minute walks, and this has proven to be a great way to lose weight, experience mood improvements and reduce your risk of developing diabetes. You can start off with a light stroll to build up strength and stamina, but be aware that you will need to work up to a brisk pace of three to four miles per hour in order to burn a significant amount of calories. Either way, though, committing to a 30 minute walk once per day will provide you with numerous health benefits for free!

2. Use a Free Calorie Counting App to Stay Focused

There are numerous paid calorie counting apps and programs that you could join, including Weight Watchers, but this is not the most budget friendly approach. Instead, look for a well-rated free app that makes it possible to record your daily calorie intake. Fooducate is a good example, and this particular app will even give you a daily food grade so that you can improve the quality of each calorie that you consume.

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3. Go Swimming at a Free Local Beach

If you live in an area that has a free or relatively inexpensive beach, you can take advantage of the massive calorie burning potential of swimming. This will be much less expensive than joining a YMCA or local community center that has a pool. As an added bonus, swimming is known to tone muscles, boost endurance and lead to better cardiovascular health. Be sure to select properly fitted men’s or women’s swimwear, especially because research shows that wearing the wrong bikini size can lead to health complications such as indigestion and skin rashes.

4. Utilize Proven Stress Reducers

Stress and anxiety often lead to weight gain, which makes it imperative to reduce the stressors in your life. Adult coloring is one of the latest trends, and it has its roots in Carl Jung’s stress reduction research from the early 1900s. Reading is also a simple way to relax, and studies indicate that it is even more effective than walking, listening to music or enjoying a cup of tea. In other words, adding at least six minutes of reading into your daily routine can help you stop gaining stress weight.

5. Do Not Starve Your Body of Carbs

Low carb diets are all the rage, and they will help you lose weight temporarily. However, the human body needs a certain amount of carbs daily in order to function properly. If you starve yourself of carbs, you will eventually experience muscle loss, impaired thinking and even mood swings. The emotional issues that are attached to a lack of carbs are caused by a reduction in the body’s testosterone levels and an increase in cortisol. That’s right: carbs actually reduce the stress hormone. As long as you do not overdo it, carbs can be a very beneficial component of a healthy diet.

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6. Boost Mental Health by Getting Out in Nature

Stanford researchers have discovered that taking a walk or hike in nature is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of depression. Therefore, if you take your daily walks in a nearby park or wooded area, you will receive multiple benefits from exercising. As an added bonus, this reduction in the symptoms of stress and depression will make it easier to avoid destructive patterns such as binge eating.

7. Take Advantage of Free Fitness Centers

If you live in an apartment or condo community, the odds are high that you have access to a free fitness center or a reduced gym membership. Additionally, many hotels offer free fitness centers for guests. Utilizing these fitness centers whenever applicable is a fantastic way to burn calories and lose weight without paying anything. The cost of these facilities is worked into your bill, so you will actually be throwing money away if you do not take advantage of them.

8. Reduce Your Salt Intake

Salt is linked to bloating and water retention, so slashing your salt intake can make you quickly lose 5 to 10 pounds. Some researchers have also stated that a high sodium diet will increase your odds of becoming obese by a shocking 20 percent. The daily recommended amount of sodium for adults is 2,300 milligrams, but most Americans consume at least 3,400 milligrams per day. Fortunately, salt alternatives such as Also Salt can help you get this problem under control. You will also want to steer clear of most microwavable and restaurant meals to stay within your daily sodium guideline.

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9. Take 5 Minute Exercise Breaks

One of the major reasons that people fail to exercise is that they believe they do not have enough time in their day to fit it in. A close analysis of your day and how much of it is actually wasted should help you find 30 minutes for exercise, but if not, you can take five minute exercise breaks multiple times a day to help you get fit. Doing push-ups or planking for five minutes at a time will be very beneficial, and this can give you much-needed mental boost during your workday. Doing this six times a day will allow you to reach the 30 minute mark.

10. Increase Your Veggie Intake

Many people believe that vegetables cannot make them feel satiated, but this is not true. The fact is that some veggies, including broccoli, have enough fiber to be very filling. To make things even better, broccoli is one of the foods that burns more calories during the digestion process than it adds to your body. Zucchini, cauliflower and asparagus offer similar rewards. Fruit is another way to reduce calories without feeling hungry. Watermelon is an especially good choice because it has a lot of fiber but a small amount of calories. The best part about all of this is that turning to fruits and vegetables in lieu of higher calorie options will slash your grocery bill!

Now that you have a better understanding of how to lose weight for free, it is time to motivate yourself to get started. Watching a Netflix marathon instead of taking a walk or swimming might sound like more fun, but choosing this option repeatedly will reduce your life expectancy by two years. Even worse is the fact that your quality of life will be dramatically reduced if you maintain a sedentary lifestyle.

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Featured photo credit: by Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Holly Chavez

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Last Updated on August 21, 2018

15 Effective Cool Down Exercises For Every Workout

15 Effective Cool Down Exercises For Every Workout

Exercise is a very important part of one’s lifestyle.

It can help keep your weight under control. It can lower the risk of diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and countless others. It’s also generally accepted that being in good shape is good for you.

However, it’s not how much you exercise but how you exercise. Many people forget one of the most important parts of exercising, which is the cool down exercises.

What are cool down exercises?

Cool down exercises are defined as light exercise that helps your body transition from working hard to resting. This can be an important part of your exercise for many reasons. A few reasons include:

  • Reduces strain on your heart muscle as it goes from exerting itself back to normal.
  • Prevents dizziness and other discomfort from blood pooling in your lower extremities after exercise (caused by veins increasing in size to accommodate the increased blood flow from the heart).
  • Promotes a “feel good” feeling. After running hard, a nice walk afterward helps your legs feel better.

15 Most effective cool down exercises

Cool down exercises are always good for you, even if they don’t do all the things that some people claim. So which ones are the best?

We’ve run down 15 of the most effective cool down exercises for any workout.

1. Walking

The creme de la creme of cool down exercises, according to our research, is walking. It doesn’t matter what kind of work out you do; taking a nice walk afterward always seems to be toward the top of all the lists.

When we say walking, we don’t mean power walking where you’re pumping your arms and legs. We’re talking a nice, leisurely stroll. You don’t even need to pump your arms. This allows for everything to return to normal but lets you keep moving while it happens.

It’s a classic, it’s a favorite, and it’s also highly recommended.

2. Stretch those legs

While this mostly applies to runners, a great cool down exercise is stretching your legs. This includes all the classics like pulling your leg up behind you to stretch your hamstring or trying to touch your toes. There are other, more complex stretches that more or less stretch the same areas.

Even if it was all upper body, a good stretch to the legs can be a great cool down exercise.

3. Stretch that chest

A few of our cool down exercise choices will be stretching. This is just a heads up because they’re very effective for cooling down and they’re all pretty easy to do.

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A popular one is lacing your fingers behind your back, straightening out your arms and looking at the ceiling. This is effective at stretching your chest muscles.

4. Yep, get those arms too

If you’ve ever noticed, even runners stretch their arms before they go running. Consequently, it’s also one of the more effective cool down exercises. It helps get your shoulders and your arms loosened up.

Nearly every exercise involves your arms to some extent, so getting them warmed up and cooled down is always a good idea.

There are a lot of popular arm stretches. Crossing your arm across your body and stretching is a good one. Placing your hand on your back can help stretch the back of your arms as well.

5. Finally, stretch out that core

The core of your body is often something that gets overlooked in both stretching and exercise in general. So it’s not only great to include in your cool down exercises, but also recommended since your core is, well, your core.

You should be working it out no matter what. A popular yoga technique is to get on your hands and knees. Then arch your back like a cat followed by bowing it out like the letter C. This helps both your core and your back. Two essentials when exercising and cooling down.

6. Jumping jacks

Now we get back into lighter exercises that also work well for cool down exercises. A favorite is the jumping jack.

Yes, it may seem a little bit like middle school gym class, but jumping jacks are actually an effective exercise. The motion of jumping, spreading, and closing your legs works almost your entire lower body.

Meanwhile the act of putting your arms down, and bringing then back up to clap works a good portion of your upper body, so pretty much everything gets worked on.

7. Swimming

If you have access to a pool at your home or your gym, a quick dip in the pool can be a great for cool downs.

Treading water uses almost all the same muscles as jumping jacks do. Doing the Olympic-style swimming works those same muscles, but to a higher degree. So you can even vary your swimming intensity.

Plus, who doesn’t love jumping into a nice cool pool after a long, arduous workout?

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8. Get a massage

Okay, this one isn’t exercise on the face of it, but it can be effective as many cool down exercises.

The point of cool down exercises is to transition your body from exerting to rest. Part of that is getting rid of pooled blood left over from when your veins and arteries pumping blood the body didn’t need anymore.

While it’s preferred that you exercise this excess away, a significant other or a professional masseuse can go over your body for a few minutes with a massage and it accomplishes pretty much the same thing.

Do note, it’s not recommended to go straight from workout to massage. Doing at least a few cool down exercises first is preferable.

9. Exercise specific drills

This one is a little complex, but bear with us.

If you’re a runner, you’ll obviously be working out your legs most of all. So doing some squats after a run keeps your legs pumping without the stress of actually running. These can be wonderful cool down exercises.

If you’re lifting weights, you can decrease to a weight you can lift very easily and just do a lot of repetitions.

For runners, laying down and doing scissor kicks can be an excellent cool down.

If you’ve been cycling, start out in fifth gear, then gradually work your way down to first gear.

10. Exercise mimicry

Now we’re getting into the complicated sounding stuff. Oddly enough, it’s still not that complicated.

Exercise mimicry is when you perform the same exercise you were just performing, but with less resistance.

A couple of good examples are actually above. Lifting less weight and cycling in a lower gear are two great examples.

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However, you can do this without machines too. If you just finished playing soccer, then maybe a light jog or a brisk walk while dribbling the ball will be more effective.

When you mimic your exercises with less resistance, you work the exact same muscles you just worked on. So you’re cooling down everything that got a work out.

11. Do house chores

Welcome to the absurd portion of our list. Believe it or not, house chores can make excellent cool down exercises.

Did you just take a long run? Pull out the lawn mower and cool down by walking it across your lawn. Do something a little more full body? Put your laundry away.

You have to bend over, grab some clothing, fold it using your arms, walk to the chest of drawers using your legs, put it away, and repeat.

Pretty much all house chores require light exercise which makes them perfect for cool down exercises.

Obviously, these are best used for when you work out at home. If you work out at the gym, your body will have recovered by the time you drive home and get started!

12. Dance

What is dance if not beautiful exercise? It can be a great way to cool down as well.

If you’ve just finished an intense work out and you’re feeling out of it and tired, then why not shake it like a Polaroid picture? It works your muscles and it’s pretty light exercise unless you’re a backup dancer in a pop star music video.

Plus, it can be fun which is also good for your mental fitness!

13. Kick your own booty

Jogging in place is another of the most effective cool down exercises.

Without forward momentum, your body doesn’t have to work as hard to keep you in motion. You’re essentially just bring your legs up in place briskly. So it’s like running minus all the effort, which is what makes it a great cool down.

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If you’re wondering about the title of this one, it’s what I used to do when running in place back in PE class when I was a kid.

14. Tae Bo

We’ve all seen the videos. At least those of us from the 1990’s have seen the videos of all the healthy people doing punches and kicks as part of their workout.

While doing this for awhile can be a great workout, doing them for a few minutes make them great cool down exercises. This combines work outs with stretching in many cases, as you can’t really kick that high without stretching your muscles a little bit.

So it’s worth learning a few Tae Bo exercises for a more fun cool down experience.

15. Yoga

There’s a reason why yoga is considered exercise. That’s because it actually is.

People can say what they want, but have you ever tried to hold dhanurasana for more than a few minutes? It’s not easy.

Yoga poses can make great cool down exercises because they’re essentially complex stretches that wildly help your flexibility. It’s well worth learning a good dozen or so Yoga poses and using them during your cool down to get that stretch into parts of your body you don’t normally stretch.

The bottom line

We’ve reached the end of our list and we hope you picked up a few more good cool down exercises for your repertoire.

Remember, the purpose of a cool down is to help your body transition from working hard to hardly working without any ill effects. So really any stretch, exercise, or movement that can help you accomplish that task makes for a good cool down exercise.

Remember, cool downs may not be as important as warm ups according to many studies, but that doesn’t mean you should not do them.

Cool downs are a great way to treat your body right after a rough exercise and if you treat your body right today, it’ll treat you right tomorrow.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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