Do you want to exercise, but don’t fancy being a gym bunny?
Almost 10 million people have health and fitness club memberships in the UK.1 But while signing up for a membership may be a popular thing to do, it’s not the only way to exercise.
There are lots of other ways to keep fit, without having to set foot inside your local gym or leisure centre. Let’s take a look at some of these other gym alternatives:
Working out invariably involves getting hot and sticky, but if you’re working up a sweat outdoors, then being out in the fresh air can help cool you down. Back or front garden, local park or public footpath, there are plenty of outdoor fitness pursuits to choose from.
The beauty of running is that you can run where you like, for as long as you like and as fast or as slow as you like.
Health-wise, running can increase your lung function and boost your immune system, as well as your good cholesterol levels. It’s also renowned for being a great stress reliever and can help you lose weight by burning off calories.2 Try the NHS’ Couch to 5K plan or see if there are any local running clubs you can join.
Read more: A guide to running for non-runners
Like running, cycling can be done at your speed, wherever you like and whenever you like. The main thing is making sure you’ve got a bike to go cycling on.
There are lots of health benefits to cycling, ranging from improving your mental wellbeing and reducing the risk of heart disease, to better lung health and weight loss. Cycling burns between 400 and 1,000 calories an hour, depending on how fast you’re pedalling and how much you weigh.3
Handpicked content: Your guide to cycling nutrition
Going for a walk is one of the most simple (not to mention, free) activities you can do. Going for a daily brisk walk can help you burn calories and make your heart healthier. It also counts towards your 150 minutes of recommended weekly exercise too. Read more about the amazing benefits of walking for more insight.
Don’t forget, walking the dog counts too! If you don’t want to walk alone, see if there are any local walking groups you can join.
What better way to get closer to nature and appreciate the natural landscape around you, than by going for a hike. Hiking can help improve your cardio levels, muscle strength, sleep quality and help you lose weight, among many other things.4 And if you’re part of a local hiking group, then it’s a good way to connect with other people.
You don’t have to scale a mountain or do 100 laps of your local park to get your quota of exercise in. Everyday tasks, such as gardening can help you burn calories too. You can burn around 300 calories an hour while you’re gardening.5 Pushing your lawnmower backwards and forwards, raking, weeding and digging are all workouts in their own right.
In recent years, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) exercise has earned a bit of a name for itself as being hardcore because you can burn a phenomenal amount of calories in a short space of time! The key to HIIT is short, sharp bursts of exercise, followed by short breaks. And if you’re pressed for time, you can do them in 15, 10, and even, 5 minutes.6
Check out our simple 15-minute HIIT workout plan you can do at home.
Not really a fan of feeling the burn? Depending on the type of yoga involved, you can burn between 180 and 460 calories through yoga.7 Suitable for people of all ages, yoga can also help improve your core strength, flexibility and balance.8
Who says you only have to do circuit training at the gym? Providing you’ve got the space, you can do a lot of the exercises, such as lunges, push ups, squats, burpees, planks, star jumps, at home. And if you’ve got some hand weights or a kettle bell, then you can incorporate some kettle bell moves or dumbbell rows or overhead dumbbell presses. Get ready to burn some serious calories – as much as 10 calories per minute/600 calories per hour!9
Indoor or outdoor exercise - which gym alternative do you fancy? Depending on the weather, you could alternate between indoor and outdoor workouts or simply focus on one activity and see how you get on with it.
For more insight, check out this article, ‘How to exercise indoors.’
After a string of injuries, former rugby player Richie Norton turned his focus to wellness coaching. In this episode Richie talks us through:
Last updated: 13 June 2022
Joined Holland & Barrett: Apr 2019
Masters Degree in Toxicology and BSc Hons in Medical Biochemistry
Bhupesh started his career as a Clinical Toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products.
After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.