Five ways to keep fit without breaking the bank

While some enjoy the routine of heading to the gym, or the motivation of a class, others prefer to go it alone. Here, we look at some of the most rewarding forms of keeping fit that will help lead to a healthier body – and bank balance.

In these days of high-tech gyms and Fitbits, exercise is a lucrative business.

But consumer research suggests the average adult in Britain wastes £90 on unused fitness equipment each year.

Many of us feel the need to fork out to get fit, but it doesn’t have to be expensive.

Here, we’ve rounded up some of the best activities that cost little or nothing to help you shed, not spend, pounds…

1. Home work-out routine

No need to splash out on a celebrity exercise DVD, there are an array of brilliant home work-outs online, starting with the nhs.uk/livewell pages, that are absolutely free.

On YouTube, you'll find work-outs from some of the best-known trainers out there, including The Body Coach, which can be done in the comfort and privacy of your own home.

2. Badminton

You can book a local court for just a few pounds, and with only a racquet and shuttlecocks required, it’s not hard to see why badminton is second only to football for participation around the globe. As this sport involves running, lunging and stretching, you can quickly burn calories and improve your fitness, speed and reflexes. What’s more, your core, arm and back muscles will all get a good workout too, and as an all-encompassing sport, it can help you switch off from stress and release those happy endorphins to improve mood and sleep.

3. Walking

Walking comes out on top as the most popular means of exercise among Fitbit users in the US, Australia, Canada and Britain, with 70 per cent reporting it as their primary form of fitness. Its ease and versatility are its strength. You can walk anywhere, any time, and you can adapt your route and speed to your fitness level. It’s a hobby and a transport solution wrapped up in one package – not to mention the environmental benefits.

4. Swimming

Most council-run pools offer lessons if you want to learn for the first time or just improve, and you can usually take a dip for under a fiver if you take a membership or discount card.

Swimming exercises the whole body, and is a great way to tone up without putting pressure on specific areas. You can go as fast or a slow as you like – just pick the right lane – so it can be a gentle or highly aerobic form of exercise.

5. Cycling

Using your bike to get around has been proven to be very beneficial for health and fitness. In fact, researchers at Glasgow University have found that people who cycle to work have a 40 per cent lower risk of dying early compared with those who drive or use public transport. The study also suggested a daily bike ride cuts the chance of developing cancer by 45 per cent, and halves the risk of heart disease.