Frugal Fitness: How To Get Fit On The Cheap

A Frugal Fitness Routine That Will Save You Money

Frugal FitnessPin

I’d like to share my frugal fitness routine with you today.

I’ve always been active.  Starting as a young kid playing backyard football, basketball, and baseball.  Furthermore, I like to exercise on a regular basis.

It makes me feel good and more energetic and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Staying fit and doing it with good money management habits is just second nature for me.

So, here are a few frugal fitness tips. Consider them for your fitness routine today.

A Little History On My Frugal Fitness

I wasn’t much of a team sports athlete.  Never being fast, big or strong, I didn’t do well in team sports as a youth.  Other than in the backyard with my buddies.  But I discovered that I could exercise for long periods of time.  It’s the story of my life.  Whatever it’s been, I could usually outlast the competition.

So in my 20’s, I turned to long-distance recreational bicycling.  And in my 30s I started jogging and walking on a regular basis.  My claim to fame is a 7-day 550-mile bike ride through the Rocky Mountains in South West Colorado when I was 30.

Also, I’ve run several half marathons.  My favorite was in Quebec City, Canada when Mrs. DD and I vacationed there quite a few years ago.

As for cost, a good road bike is expensive.  But once you make that investment, jogging and bicycling are frugal fitness.

Frugal Fitness – Today

I no longer own a bike.  Furthermore, I have no desire to run a half marathon.  However, I still like to stay fit and exercise on a regular basis.

And changing and adapting my fitness routine over the years has been part of my lifelong learning.

Even more, exercise is great and it doesn’t have to be expensive.  So, let’s save some money.

Here are a few frugal fitness tips.

Cheap Ways To Exercise – Strength & Stretch

I’ve had this dumbbell set and weight bench for about 25 years.  It resides in our basement.  This setup cost several hundred dollars at the time.

So two days a week I will do some form of lightweight work or stretching.  I also like to do planks.  They are a great core workout and you do not need any equipment.

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On either side of the bench is a pretty good size open carpeted space for stretching.  As I’ve gotten a little older, I really like to stretch.  It’s relaxing.  Almost like meditation to me and it eases muscle tension.  Although I’ve spent a few bucks on a yoga strap and the pink foam roller by the dumbbells, you can do a good stretch routine for free.

Exercise On A Budget – Walk & Jog

Two days a week I jog two miles.  And then on the weekends Mrs. DD and I like to go for long walks together.  Isn’t that sweet?  Depending on how much time we have, we walk for at least three miles and sometimes as many as nine.  It’s all outside and totally frugal fitness.

But now a confession.  We own a very nice treadmill.  It resides in an unfinished area in our basement next to the strength and stretch area.  Mrs. DD bought this before we got married and we have also owned it for about 25 years.  It was a floor model so she got a good discount.  I think it cost her about $2,000.

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We prefer going outside to walk and run, so it doesn’t get used as much anymore.  They no longer make parts for it so if it breaks down, we won’t replace it.

For Low-Cost Exercise: A Do-Over

If I could do it over, and a suggestion to make the most of your financial situation, I would skip on buying the weight bench and treadmill.  We bought those when we were younger and inflicted by consumerism.  Also much busier working Corporate jobs.  If you do want to make those kinds of investments, buy quality stuff. The equipment will last a long time for personal use.  Let’s say the weights, bench, and treadmill cost us about $2,500.  Over 25 years, that’s only $100 per year.  And we have used the equipment frequently.

In contrast, I know many people that spend on exercise equipment thinking that will motivate them to exercise, but in the end, it does not. So, don’t make that bad financial decision.

If I could do it over, I would spend $100 bucks or so on a few dumbbells, a foam exercise roller, a yoga strap, etc.  And then I’d fit my current routine around that equipment.  Which is basically what I’m doing today.

Frugal Fitness Routine

To stay physically active, here’s my current frugal fitness routine:

  • Monday – Strength and Stretch
  • Tuesday – Jog 2 miles
  • Wednesday – Strength & Stretch
  • Thursday – Jog 2 miles
  • Friday – Strength & stretch (or optional day off)
  • Saturday – Walk between 3 and 9 miles
  • Sunday – Walk between 3 and 9 miles

How To Keep Fit On A Budget…

This routine can be done for next to nothing.  Skip on buying the pricey equipment or paying for the health club membership. Build any or all of this routine into your daily list of good personal habits.

How To Get Fit When Your Short On Time…

If you cut the weekend walks down to 2 miles or less, all of these activities can be done in less than 30 minutes at home or in your neighborhood.

Frugal Fitness Wrap Up

So that’s my frugal fitness routine. Think about incorporating some of these ideas into your day. They represent some great ways to get fit at home.

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26 thoughts on “Frugal Fitness: How To Get Fit On The Cheap”

  1. Hi Tom,
    I am with you on the free exercise, you don’t need to spend money to stay in shape.
    I set a daily step goal and do a few other exercises in the comfort of my own home. As long as you stick to some sort of schedule, it works just fine:)

    • The step goal is interesting. I’ve heard a person should aim for 10,000 a day. I’ve found that’s a lot. I have actually measured my steps using the treadmill and 10,000 steps is about 5 miles for me. I don’t have one of those step meters you put on your belt, but maybe I should get one. I like to measure stuff, I used to be an accountant. Tom

      • Maybe you need to read my monthly update to the end! lol (I know you not crazy about them)
        I do give an update on my daily steps goal too. Money can get boring:)
        I got a basic Fitbit for Christmas and you can get pretty cool charts! Caroline

  2. Hi Tom, I’m not a gym person. First, I don’t want to spend that money monthly. If I don’t use the gym often, I would feel guilty for wasting the money. Second, I don’t feel comfortable working out with that many people around. My daily routine is walking 30 minutes in the neighborhood. If the weather is not good, I’ll use my treadmill at home.

    7 day 550 mile bike ride through the Rocky Mountains, that’s very impressive!

    • Sounds like we are cut from the same cloth when it comes to exercise Helen. I have never liked working out in a gym or health club facility either. I will also use are treadmill more as the weather turns to late Fall and Winter. Tom

  3. I’m lucky to have a small fitness room/gym at work. If I can go three times per week for an hour each, I’ve met my goal. The weekend is hard with kids, so I make sure I get full workouts at work. Like yourself, I used to have gym equipment at home, but very shortly after buying it, I stopped using it. Fortunately, I was able to sell most of it.

    • That is a nice work benefit SMM. Glad you can take advantage of it and it’s good you could sell off your equipment since you don’t use it. I do not think your experience with home equipment is different from many. Tom

  4. We exercise at home with a treadmill, free weights, bands, and a bench. Can pretty much get everything accomplished with our setup without leaving the friendly confines (Chicago nod) of the house.

    I do miss some of the machines at the gym but I don’t miss the monthly membership dues! Take care Tom!

    • Sounds like we have a similar set up and approach Mr. DS. Gotta stay fit. But I must say, it gets a little harder as I get older. Tom

  5. I have a treadmill and strength-training machine but I haven’t used it in quite awhile. I’d rather walk outside on a nice day and breathe the fresh air and I use the dining room chair as a step-up platform. When I start back up at work I’ll be working out in the morning just because I’ll be going back into a sedentary environment. Either way, I’m not technically paying anything for a designated gym. Though, I’ll be fair and say that I would probably work out more if I did pay for the gym membership.

    • Perhaps you are a little like me HP (other than also being an accountant:). By not working full time, I have more time to workout and be outside doing it. When I was working and commuting 60+ hours a week, the luxury of using a treadmill in the basement for 20-30 minutes was a big time saver. But with more time, it doesn’t have as much appeal as walking and jogging outside. Tom

  6. Wow, Tom, you are in excellent shape! I used to be very consistent with my exercise (mostly weight training). I still exercise regularly, but I need to work on being far more consistent. Still in decent shape, but lots of room for improvement.

    • You may be giving me a little more credit than I deserve regarding my fitness Miguel. I do try though. Even if it’s just 20 minutes of walking or stretching. Every little bit helps. Tom

  7. This has been top of mind lately, as I’ve found now that I’m working from home my level of activity has decreased and I’ve put on some weight.

    We do have a nice gym setup at home, and my wife makes great use of it pretty much every day. I prefer to get outside, and when I dropped about 80 pounds it was largely done by walking and eventually jogging outside. Need to get back to that.

    Once the bitter cold winters hit here, I make (or made since I need to get back to it) use of our treadmill and elliptical as being outside isn’t as enjoyable.

    Time to stop making excuses and get myself back in gear!

    • Congrats on losing that much weight. I’m sure it wasn’t easy. I tried to lose 5 pounds this summer and couldn’t do it. You must feel a lot better DD. Tom

      • Thanks, it is crazy now to pick up a 45-lb weight plate and think that I was carrying around nearly two of those every day. I will say that early on it was easier as the pounds came off quicker, so I can appreciate your challenge with those 5 pounds!

        • Sounds like your are doing better than me. I’d probably hurt my back if I tried to pick up a 45 pound plate. I have to stick to some wimpy light weight dumbells. Tom

  8. You have time to blog, work part-time, shovel snow in the winter, and work out!?


    I’m impressed with your routine. I like running I used to run and have done ONE half marathon but it was like a part-time job training for that. I only do 20-30 minute workouts three times a week from Youtube videos 🙂

    Weights are good for you to keep your muscle mass as you get older so I don’t think buying that bench was a complete wash 🙂

    • GYM, I do what I can, but I’m far less busy than when doing the 24/7 grind in years past. I bet you are a whole lot busier than me with FT job, child, blog and work outs. p.s. I’m considering getting a snowblower so I don’t put too much on Mrs. DD this winter. Tom

  9. Weather permitting, I walk 3 – 10 miles daily – usually round trip to my local Starbucks. As a side note, once Medicare eligible several of the plans include gym memberships.

    • Hey SR. That sounds like an excellent exercise routine. We love walking and live in a really walk-able town as it sounds like you do too. Thanks for the tip on free gym memberships. I have a few years to go yet before I qualify. Tom

  10. I dont think I agree with the not buying a bench and weights. I think that’s one of the best investments I made in recent years. I can however recommend like a DIY pullup bar for additional training. Can be made with some leftover spare parts 🙂

    I try to work out three times a week. Indoor soccer (competition) and two times either strength training or additional running. Although I’m pretty behind schedule at the moment due to some life changes..

    • Sounds like you have a good routine Mr. R. My wife said the same thing, that she thought both the tread mill and the bench/weights were good investments for us. Hope your life changes are for the better! Tom

  11. Hi Tom,
    You’ve got a nice & healthy weekly fitness routine!
    I personally am doing quite a lot of endurance sports. I finished 6 Olympic-distance triathlons, one half-Ironman distance triathlon and ran a marathon this year 😀 I am going to decrease the schedule though, as we have a baby-girl now 🙂
    As with the costs, I would say I am pretty frugal compared to how much sports I am doing with that equipment. I bought my bike used for €450 back in 2014 and am still using it up to this day in my training and competitions. I have a few pairs of shorts, budget swimming suit which I also bought in 2014. Running shoes get worn off so I buy a pair each year. Other guys in triathlon competitions have really expensive stuff and I can see how quickly they change it, so it may be an expensive sport if you want.
    But I have to admit that I also have a gym membership for €24.95/month and have been visiting gym rarely lately, so that would be a thing I should give up but didn’t manage yet 🙂

    • Wow you sound like you are in excellent condition BI. I understand how expensive bikes and bike clothes/accessories can be. They can eat up your budget if not careful. Tom

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