With many household budgets continuing to feel pressured due to the Great Recession and economic malaise, spending money on exercising and staying in shape has been pushed towards the sidelines. Gym memberships, personal trainers and pricey home gym equipment are often the first things to go when tough economic times take hold. However, with more people spending roughly 40 hours sitting behind a desk every week, avoiding exercise is a recipe for disaster. The truth is that you can build a better body while on a tight budget. Here's how.

SEE: Budgeting When You're Broke

Take the Stairs

I know it may sound cliché, but taking the stairs instead of the elevator really does do wonders. There's a reason why most gyms have a stair-climbing machine in their offerings. According to the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, walking up stairs is one of the more intense exercises a person can do. The exercise burns a higher number of calories than walking or dancing, and is on par with fast rowing or cycling.
Just how intense is stair-climbing? Research done at UCLA shows that walking up stairs can burn anywhere from seven to 10 calories per minute. While the amount varies by how much you weigh and how quickly you go up the stairs, a 150-pound person walking up flights of stairs for just 30 minutes can burn about 525 calories. Likewise, going down stairs may not have the same aerobic punch that going up does, but it still burns about one-third the calories you'd burn walking up stairs. So, the lesson is to skip the elevator and hit the stairs when going up to your office.

Hit the Playground
Those monkey-bars we loved as children also double as a fantastic way for adults to exercise without using costly gym equipment. Many of the same games and exercises that kids enjoy during recess around the world can be every bit as challenging as the average adult's current workout. They're probably a lot more fun, too. Next time you take your kids to play why not get the on the equipment yourself and try to tone, strengthen and stretch your muscles.

There are plenty of playground specific workouts available on the Internet with various levels of intensity. However, simply climbing and swinging away can do wonders to burn calories and tone muscles. According to Weight Watchers, a simple 25-35 minute playground routine will burn roughly 200 calories.

Also, don't forget to check with your local parks and rec league to find out what programs it offers. This could range from low-cost exercise and wellness classes to weekly team sports events. It definitely pays to make a call or check the Internet. With plenty of summer days ahead, hitting the playground offers a perfect low-cost solution to staying in shape.

Around the House
Believe or not, there are plenty of ways to stay fit without leaving your house or buying expensive exercise equipment or videos. First, get out the broom and dust pan. Cleaning up your space can seem like a chore, but that chore does pay fitness dividends. By getting out those cleaning supplies and scrubbing, a 150-pound person can expect to burn hundreds of calories by doing 30 minutes of housework.

Giving your yard some curb appeal could not only benefit your home value, but your waistline as well. Spending just 30 minutes digging and weeding and you will burn up to 315 and 115 calories, respectively. That is equal to a nearly a 45-minute bike ride and a 15-minute weightlifting session. Forget the leaf blower when autumn leaves start to fall, and you could burn up to 225 calories in 30 minutes by raking leaves. Finally, not only will you increase your cardiovascular health by mowing the lawn, you'll burn between at least 135 calories when using a power push mower. That jumps up to at least 165 calories when using non-powered hand mower.

SEE: Bloated Budget? How To Trim The Fat

The Bottom Line

Just because your household budget is feeling squeezed, doesn't mean you should put fitness on the back burner. There are plenty of ways to exercise and stay fit without breaking the bank. The previous ideas, along with biking to work or using gallon water jugs as hand weights can be used as low-cost ways to keep fit and healthy.

Related Articles
  1. Savings

    10 Ways To Budget When You’re Broke

    Budgets are some of the best financial tools around – when planned properly and followed faithfully.
  2. Savings

    7 Ways to Trim Fat from Your Spending

    Check out these seven ways to cut the fat from your spending.
  3. Savings

    7 Millionaire Myths

    Here are seven millionaire myths and realities that reveal they don’t quite have it all.
  4. Budgeting

    How To Save Money When Moving

    Moving doesn't have to be as expensive as you think. Here are some great ways to save money on moving costs.
  5. Budgeting

    The Hard Way We Pay For Convenience

    Convenience is a luxury. However, any cost-conscious individual should be aware of these ridiculous ways we pay for convenience and how to avoid them.
  6. Investing

    10 Ways to Effectively Save for the Future

    Savings is as crucial as ever, as we deal with life changes and our needs for the future. Here are some essential steps to get started, now.
  7. Investing Basics

    Investing $100 a Month in Stocks for 30 Years

    Find out how you could potentially earn hundreds of thousands of dollars by just investing $100 a month in stocks during your working years.
  8. Budgeting

    How to Cost Effectively Spend on Baby Clothes

    Don't let your baby's wardrobe derail your budget. These top tips help you to save money and spend wisely on baby clothes.
  9. Budgeting

    Key Questions to Ask Before Moving in Together

    Moving in together is a big step. Here are some key financial questions to ask your partner before you make the move.
  10. Personal Finance

    College Students are Failing Financial Literacy

    Financial trends among college students are a cause for concern, prompting a renewed emphasis on financial literacy.
  1. How does a bank determine what my discretionary income is when making a loan decision?

    Discretionary income is the money left over from your gross income each month after taking out taxes and paying for necessities. ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. How does the trust maker transfer funds into a revocable trust?

    Once a revocable trust is created, a trust maker transfers funds or property into the trust by including them in a list with ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What is the range of deductibles offered with various health insurance plans?

    A wide range of possible deductibles are available with health insurance plans, starting as low as a few hundred dollars ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How do I know how much of my income should be discretionary?

    While there is no hard rule for how much of a person's income should be discretionary, Inc. magazine points out that it would ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What proportion of my income should I put into my demand deposit account?

    Generally speaking, aim to keep between two months and six months worth of your fixed expenses in your demand deposit accounts. ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How do I use the rule of 72 to estimate compounding periods?

    The rule of 72 is best used to estimate compounding periods that are factors of two (2, 4, 12, 200 and so on). This is because ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!