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Scoot on paper plates. Sliding is a trendy body sculpting technique, and according to experts, paper plates, when used on carpet, do the trick just as well as expensive equipment. To do a sliding lunge, strap the paper plate under one foot and lunge forward. To work your butt and thighs, attach the plates to your feet with rubber bands and simulate skating. Or, get down on all fours, place the plates under your hands, and work your chest by sliding your arms back and forth. In all cases, keep your core tight to remain balanced.
Push-ups on the counter top. Talk about cheap ways to exercise: In most homes, at least one counter top, either in the kitchen or the bathroom, is the right height for a push-up! Plus, these counters are usually secure enough to hold your weight. To do a push-up, place both hands on the counter top, extend your legs behind you at an angle, bend your elbows into the counter top, then push back up.
Row with old pantyhose. Almost any exercise you can do with a resistance band, you can do with a pair of old pantyhose or tights. For example, sit on the floor with your legs straight, loop a pair of pantyhose around the balls of your feet, and pull back with both hands as if you are using a rowing machine. Keep the pantyhose under the balls of your feet and lift your legs (one at a time or together). Your new bands are also good for arm curls, squats, and other moves.
Squat, crunch, and bike. Forget past memories of dreary gym classes and focus on how well you’ll tone your body with simple crunches, squats, and the wheel-less bicycle. This is one of the best cheap ways to exercise. All you need are comfy workout clothes and a clean towel to lie on.
Power-walk the mall. This could become expensive if you stop and shop, but the idea is to complete a few circles around the mall at a brisk pace. Enjoy the sights and sounds, look at the folks, but keep moving. Even dodging around people and baby carriages gives your waist and torso muscles a workout. If you mall-walk three times a week for a month, give yourself a small cash reward to go towards new sneakers or a workout outfit.
Discover free exercise videos. Public libraries are now stocking health-oriented videos that include great workouts. Befriend your librarians and see if they will let you know when the latest ones come in; all you’ll need is a library card. For other cheap ways to exercise, you’ll find all sorts of free online exercise videos on YouTube; just search for “dance exercise,” “Pilates,” “yoga,” “stretching,” etc.
Commandeer the stairs. According to the New York Times, running up steps may be the single best way to exercise of all. Become a steps junkie; stay on the lookout for stairs in nearby buildings, stadiums, or in your own home. Stair climbing strengthens your legs and hips at the same time it acts as cardio. If you’re just starting out, climb a flight, then go back down a little faster to maintain intensity. Slowly build up to 10 minutes nonstop.
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