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Losing weight is hard, but when finances are tight, not having enough money to join a gym or buy an expensive piece of fitness equipment can be very discouraging. But with a little extra thought, you can devise a fitness routine that will work with a small budget—or no budget at all!

First, try to fit in your exercise routine whenever and wherever you can. Walking and running is always free, and can be done almost anywhere. During bad weather, try walking at a mall or a warehouse store—just be sure to eat a snack ahead of time and avoid the food courts or free samples! Walking up flights of stairs at the office is a great way to work out on a lunch break.

Walking up and down the stairs at your home during TV commercials is another great way to sneak in a little calorie burning. You can also do a lot of push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks, and other calisthenics-style exercises in your own living room.

Do an internet search for weight-bearing exercises, or find heavy items around the house to lift instead of dumbbells. There are many exercises a mom can do that involve lifting her toddler in fun and safe ways, instead of using weights—making it easier for a stay at home mom to keep in shape.

Most libraries have many fitness books and videos you can borrow, and they can order in anything they don’t have from libraries across the country. They also have a wonderful array of cookbooks as well. You can also find a lot of free workout routines and workout advice on YouTube.com.

Parks are a great place to work out. Some parks have basic fitness equipment such as chin up bars and low balance beams. You can also lay out a towel and do yoga, or borrow a library book on “basic training style” exercises, which you can easily do in the park.

If you are a student, you might be able to get a very inexpensive membership to a gym or to the YMCA. Classes may cost extra, but use of the basic equipment should be included in the membership. Don’t forget that if you work at or attend a college, there is usually a fitness center there that you may use for free. If you aren’t a student or teacher, then check with your employer to see if you have a gym at your work site, or if the company has an agreement with a local gym to provide discounted memberships. Some employers don’t advertise this.

Although there are a lot of ways out there to get in shape for free, sometimes you can lose motivation if you aren’t able to work out in the way that you’d like. Try to find an exercise buddy to keep your motivation up. If you have no friends interested in joining you, try craigslist.org in the personals section, or join an online fitness forum. They often have challenges and competitions to help keep motivation high.

Don’t let a lack of finances keep you from achieving optimum health or your ideal weight. Do a little research, get creative, and you’ll find a weight loss fitness routine that works for you AND your budget!

We have not received any compensation for writing this post. We have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that we have mentioned.