If you’re looking for exercise that requires little to no equipment (and hence little to no expense) look no further than walking or running. The only equipment required is a really good pair of shoes, and clothes appropriate for where you’re walking/running (and for women a good, supportive sports bra). A hundred years ago when I first started running (which I no longer do) I wore an old ratty T-shirt, an inexpensive pair of nylon shorts, regular cotton socks, and pretty ordinary running shoes. For cold weather I added gloves and a state of the art sweatshirt and sweat pants. Running clothing has become much more sophisticated since then, and you can spend an awful lot of money on moisture-wicking shirts, the latest high-tech shoes, special socks, Gortex track pants and so on. If you can afford to buy the expensive clothes and want to spend your money that way, you certainly can, but it’s not required. The same goes for walking – you can wear any comfortable clothing appropriate for where you’re walking. Other optional items include a heart rate monitor/stopwatch, but again, not required.
For folks who don’t want to spend a lot on exercise equipment, walking and running really can’t be beat. So what’s the downside? Most likely you’ll be walking or running outside, so will have to be prepared for inclement weather. Hardcore exercisers can manage to walk/run in any kind of weather with the right clothing, but not everyone is able to tolerate cold, wet, slippery/snowy or extremely warm weather. Walkers may be able to get away with walking in a mall when weather is bad, but then will need to have the ability to travel to the mall, and the extra time to do it. Some people may live in neighborhoods that aren’t safe for walking or running, or just don’t have enough of the right kind of terrain for the walk/run you want. The alternative? Buy a treadmill or join a gym, but then that takes you out of the “minimal to no expense” category. Another alternative? If you have access to a school, check out their running track. Public school tracks are usually open to the public when not needed for school events. You’ll usually find others using the track facilities, which makes the environment a little safer in sketchy neighborhoods.
So what about strength-training/weight lifting with little to no equipment? This is harder to do. For people who are only lifting light weights, you may be able to find household items (such as two soup cans) to work biceps and triceps. You can add push-ups and crunches to help round out your work-out, but it will be difficult to get a full strength work-out without a larger variety of weights.
Coming up next: balls, bands, mats, videos