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Advice on how to stay fit without the gym

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Can you stay fit without gym?

Yes, you can. The World Health Organization recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity during the week, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity. This means 21 minutes per day. And you can do any of these: walking, dancing, gardening, hiking, swimming, household chores, games.

Richard Weil, an exercise physiologist and WebMD Weight Loss clinic consultant, advises: “Aim for 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise at least three times a week, and 20 to 30 minutes of strength work three times a week.”

The American Heart Association recommends being active at least 30 minutes five days a week. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go to the gym every day. It can be any other activities, home errands, or games. There are different reasons not to attend the gym, and there are also many alternative ways to stay active and healthy.

Even a low-impact activity improves your health and leads to:

  • lower risks of mortality, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, colon and breast cancer, and depression;
  • less risk of a hip or vertebral fracture;
  • higher levels of cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness;
  • healthier body mass and composition.

The best outdoor workouts

There’re lots of options for training without the gym. You can work out all the major muscles with the following six exercises at home or on a business trip. Some of them are even OK to do at the office.

Push-ups train your upper body: chest, triceps, shoulders and even the core trunk muscles simultaneously. They affect different groups of muscles depending on the position of your hands. It’s good to train in front of the mirror to watch your technique. Check out this video with 33 kinds of push-ups for different levels of endurance.

Brisk walking trains the whole body: all leg muscles, glutes, abs, and even triceps and shoulders. It’s a universal exercise that you can do anywhere, anytime, without special equipment or machines. You just need a good pair of running shoes.

Lunges train all the major muscles of the lower body: gluteal muscles, quadriceps, and hamstrings. Lunges train your body balance, stretch your muscles, make the bones dense and reinforce joints and sinews. There are 16 different kinds of lunges to work your lower body.

Squats train your quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. They make all these muscles work and increase the number of calories you burn. Squats help alleviate knee pain, strengthen your lower body muscles, and boost your blood flow.

Dr Mercola, an osteopathic physician and chairman of the family medicine department at St. Alexius Medical Center, says that squats create an anabolic environment, which promotes body-wide muscle build. You wouldn’t guess it, but there are 20 kinds of squats out there!

Plank is another universal static exercise for whole body training. The American Council on Exercise recommends doing planks regularly as they reduce back and spine pain, strengthen back muscles, core, and side abdominals, and ensure a firm support for the entire back. At the same time, the plank is extremely simple and suits people of all ages and levels of fitness. Here’s a 2-minute video featuring 25 types of planks.

Abdominal crunches train your abs and core trunk muscles all at once. Abdominal muscles are important because we don’t have a spine in the front part of our body, and abdominals serve as core support for the upper body. Strong abs release a part of the stress and pressure from the spine and redistribute it to the front part. If you need you abs to be trained well, check out this 20 killer abs exercises video.

How can I keep fit if I don’t have time?

Replace exercises with other 5-minute activities. Do some of them every day, and they’ll give the same effect as exercising at the gym, brisk walking, or running. Here’s a list of activities you can do besides basic exercises and still keep fit.

Clean the house

It’s a great cardio exercises for the whole body. While sweeping, mopping, or vacuuming, your upper body works intensely. You have to kneel or bend over to clean hard-to-reach spots, and when you stand up you actually do lunges. Wipe the dust on tall items and cupboards to train your calves. Housekeeping chores allow you to burn 4 calories a minute, or a total of 80 calories for 20 minutes of cleaning. Clean the house twice a week, and you will have lost a total of 640 calories a month or 7,680 calories a year!

Wash your car

Instead of taking your car to the car wash, wash it yourself. It’s another way of doing something useful and burning calories simultaneously. You can burn up to 6 calories a minute washing the car. Just washing a car for 30 minutes a week will burn 180 calories. Combine washing the car with digging in the garden, mowing the lawn, or reorganizing a closet. Add one of these high-energy activities to you to-do list every day, and you’ll stay fit without the gym.

Set a thirty minutes rule

Avoid sitting for more than 30 minutes; otherwise, you risk finishing the day with back pain. Take a 10–15 minute break every 30 minutes to do a set of push-ups or squats. One set takes 1–2 minutes of your time. Mind your posture while sitting—keep your spine tall, shoulders back, and neck straight.

Do a short morning exercise

Set the alarm clock 10 minutes before you usually wake up and do some basic exercises: warm-up exercises, squats, push-ups, and  stretching. It helps to pump up the blood and enrich it with oxygen, and also wakes you up. Here’s a simple 5-minute morning exercise you can do every day.

Stick to a healthy diet

Cut down on processed food and sugar as they’re a source of extra fat and calories. Replace sugar with fruit— they contain natural sugar and fiber that helps to regulate the digestion. Half of your meals per day should consist of multi-colored vegetables, and don’t forget to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses or 2 liters of water a day.

I don’t like exercises

Make your workout fun. It’s easy to entertain yourself and at the same time burn extra fat, stay in shape, feel good and energized. There are so many activities to try out:

Play with the kids

The best company is definitely your family. It allows you to kill two birds with one stone — spend time with your kids and get fit. You can take them walking with you, play basketball, soccer, or ping pong, or do jumping jacks or some lunges. If you jog, let your kids ride bicycles or tricycles in front of you. Choose the pace and intensity to suit your kids’ ages, so they can follow and not feel they’re dragging behind.

Dance or do aerobics

If you don’t have interest in gym or home-based exercising, start attending dance classes or aerobics. They use up a lot of energy, burn calories, and help you keep fit or lose weight, too. If you don’t have time to go to the dance studio, you always can find a fitness channel or look through Youtube bloggers who teach online. Check out such bloggers as MIhran Kirakosian, Meghan Trainor, and Julianne Hough. They have many videos for beginners.

Do light yoga and stretching

Light yoga or stretching is easy to combine with cooking, talking on the phone, listening to a podcast, or watching TV. Use commercials as an opportunity to do a set of push-ups, lunges, or a plank. One commercial lasts for 4–5 minutes—that’s enough to perform the exercise and rest.  This way you can manage your errands, save time, and stay fit.

I don’t like training indoors

Go outside and move around as much as possible: walk, run, jump, play basketball, walk the dog or ride the bike.

Walk or bike instead of driving

If your work requires you to sit for hours in front of a laptop, take a walk to the office and back home. It’ll give at least 30–40 minutes of cardio five times a week. On average, a person burns 6 calories a minute doing a medium impact activity, so you’ll burn around 900 calories per week, which is 0.3 pounds of fat. If the office is too far away, take the bus halfway and walk the rest of the way to work. The same with the car—park 1–1.5 miles away from your destination, and walk at least 15 minutes.

Get a dog

Dogs require walking at least twice a day—in the morning and in the evening. So, it will push you to spend 30–40 minutes outside walking at least. To use these walks effectively, play games with the dog, run, or jog along. If you cannot afford to keep a dog in the house or apartment, look for neighbors who need a dog walker.

Get a ping pong table or a basketball hoop

It’s a great way to replace regular boring exercises. Ping pong and shooting hoops are explosive games. They combine both cardio and strength elements. Thirty minutes is enough to get sweat and feel tension in the muscles. Just set a ping pong table or a basketball hoop in the yard, and you’re on your way to a healthy life.

Play snow games Build a snow hill for the kids in the neighborhood, play snowballs with them, make a snowman, build a snow fortress — all these activities take a lot of energy and burn plenty of fat. They make you move faster than usual, run, duck, jump and even crawl in a winter jacket. You will sweat like crazy for sure!

Find a hill or stairs

If you live near the mountains or hills, do your strolling there, or go climbing. But if you live on a flatland, just taking the stairs is good enough to work out the whole body. A 35–40 year old woman, weighing 75 kg, can lose over 17,000 calories a year just by taking the stairs to her fifth-floor office and back twice a day.

How to build in exercise into my day?

It’s very simple. We emulated a common day for a busy office worker who doesn’t have time for the gym or training at home. Even if you have a very busy day you can simply integrate activities into your daily routine and burn extra calories. Just make it an everyday habit and your health will profit.


  • Wake up 15–20 minutes earlier than usual and do a short morning exercise.
  • Do squats while brushing your teeth or brewing the coffee. It takes 2–3 minutes, but it’s a great way to be active at the start of the day.
  • Instead of morning exercises you can walk your kids to school or kindergarden. If the school is in the neighborhood, park the car a few blocks away from it and walk. It will take 10–15 minutes, but will keep you active, improve your mood, and help you stay in the know about your kids’ lives.
  • Walk or bike to the office. If the office is 1–2 miles away from home, walk or bike there instead of driving. If it’s far and you usually drive or take the subway, just get off a few blocks away from the office and walk. Such walks will help you concentrate on work, stay fit, and get creative.


  • Take breaks during work. Don’t sit longer than 30 minutes. Set the alarm to buzz every half an hour and do something: stand up and walk around the room, do a set of squats or a plank, or walk the stairs for a few stories.
  • Use an under-desk-stepper to train your legs even while working at the desk.
  • Have meetings and make phone calls on the go. Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, and other progressive businessmen manage their business while walking or have meetings at parks to stay healthy and save time.
  • Choose a distant cafe for lunch. At lunch, don’t go to the closest cafe or restaurant, choose a place a few blocks away, so you could walk for 10–15 minutes, have lunch for 30 minutes and walk back for 30 minutes again.
  • Eat healthy food. Balance your diet, avoid fast food and all processed foods. Eat more vegetables, slow carbs, and protein. Drink more water instead of tea and coffee. Avoid consuming extra calories and it’ll be easier to stay fit without the gym or exercises
  • Use stairs instead of the elevator. If there’s an elevator in the building, don’t use it. Take the stairs instead to work out your lower body, shoulders, and abs. If your office is on the 6–7 floor you will do at least 120–140 step-ups.


  • Walk or bike home. After work walk to the further subway station or the parking spot a few blocks away where you’ve left the car. You also can bike or walk home and pick up the kids from school if it’s on the way.
  • Clean the house or play with the kids outside. After that you can do some cleaning, walk with the kids, play soccer, basketball, or snow games in the yard depending on the season of the year and the weather.
  • Do exercises while watching your favorite series or evening program. Use the TV ad breaks to clean the floor, dust, or sweep. You can do a set of squats or push-ups during these pauses, too.
  • A few days a week or on the weekend choose a distant store and go shopping. Thirty minutes walking is enough to burn from 75 to 99 calories — the faster you walk, the more you burn.

Being active for ten minutes every hour during the day gives the same result as training at the gym three times a week for two hours. The only difference is the intensity. Instead of being vigorous as you are at the gym, you spread out your exercise time over the whole week and do it more decently, still staying active and burning calories.

What exercises can I do at home?

There are plenty of exercises you can do at home including yoga, stretching, Tabata, Zumba, core exercises, pilates, and many more.

We can recommend you Jefit – the award-winning fitness app that recently passed 10 million downloads. Jefit has a fascinating feature called ‘Audio Coach’ that guides you through a workout. Other apps on our recommendation list can help you manage your time and find new exercises for everyday workouts. They will help you find the best activity for your fitness level and lifestyle:

Welltory Team, 23 Dec. 2021

Learn more

Why walking makes you healthier

There are at least five health problems you can avoid by starting to walk right now. Besides walking improves your thinking processes and creativity.