Let’s face it: the gym isn’t for everybody. For some it’s the cost that hinders its appeal, and for others it’s the atmosphere. But the good news is that you don’t need a health club membership to get in shape. There are a lot of exercises you can do around your house or in your neighborhood that don’t require a gym for a good workout.

Workout Guidelines for Fitness

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) recommends that adults include a certain amount of physical exercise in their weekly routine as one means of staying healthy.

Keep in mind that all of the regular walking, standing and lifting you normally do in your daily life does not constitute a workout, according to HHS. Even including some short-burst exertions like climbing a few flights of stairs or lifting a heavy box or two won’t help improve your overall health.

Instead, you should engage in what the HHS describes as health-enhancing activities—exercises and workouts that go beyond your normal daily activities. The specific recommendations for adults involve:

• At least 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic workouts, such as brisk walking, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic workouts like running or jogging

• For even better results, about 5 hours a week of moderate workouts or 2 hours and 30 minutes of vigorous workouts

• On top of these aerobic activities, strength-training workouts at least twice a week that involve all major muscle groups

Spread out these exercises throughout the week, mixing up your routine often to keep your body guessing and work out different muscle sets at different intensities.

Work Out at Home: How To Skip the Gym

• Get up and move. Moderate-intensity aerobic exercise can be as simple as marching in place while you watch television. You also can take a long, quick-paced walk through your neighborhood.

• Jumping jacks. People ready to pursue a high-intensity aerobic workout can get more advanced. Biking or swimming also are good activities, but involve getting a bike or having access to a pool. However, you’ll see better benefits if you mix up your aerobic exercises, as different workouts target different muscle groups.

• Sports. Competitive sports also can provide different levels of physical exertion, be it the long walk of a round of golf or the heart-pumping scramble of basketball.

Strength-training exercises also can be accomplished without spending money on weights or a gym membership:

• Do some squats. Lunges and squats can give your lower body a solid strength-training workout by using your own weight as the resistance.

• Makeshift weights. Use water bottles, cans of soup, or heavier items as resistance for bicep curls and straight-arm raises that work your shoulders.

• The old basic-training standby. Push-ups will work your chest muscles, biceps, triceps and back muscles.

• Work those abs. To work your abs, try the plank exercise. Get into the starting position of the typical push-up, but place your hands and elbows on the floor at a 45-degree angle between you and the floor. Straighten your legs, using your toes to lift your knees off the floor, making a straight line from your shoulders to hips to heels, holding yourself up with your abs. Maintain this position for 10 seconds, rest and repeat, not allowing your body to sag toward the floor.


If you think you need to join a health club to get your exercise, you’re wrong. These simple steps will keep you in shape.