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The new year is a fantastic time to start something afresh, whether or not you make resolutions. As well as your own motivation, you’ll have the inspiration of seeing plenty of other people around you undertaking the same mission to get fitter, to lose weight and to generally get into a shape that makes life a bit more fun. However, for a large number of us, the prohibitive cost of buying workout gear, joining a gym or paying for classes can mean all those positive plans soon fall by the wayside. Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way as there are plenty of low cost resources available to make sure your new year plans don’t fall flat.

1. YouTube

You may be under the impression that YouTube is simply a place to watch music videos or other people’s cats falling off the back of sofas. While there’s plenty of this kind of content on the video channel, it’s also a great resources for all things health and fitness. You can find everything from yoga videos to aerobics classes on YouTube and all you need to watch them is an internet connection and a device to access the internet with. YouTube is also full of recipe ideas and there are vloggers who will provide you with regular fitness updates and information – subscribe to your favourite channels for regular bursts of motivation without paying anything at all.

2. Al fresco training

The gym is all very well but nothing really beats the benefits of getting outside to exercise. In countries like ours where we’re deprived of sun most of the year we have real issues with getting enough Vitamin D and this can lead to everything from aching bones and gut problems to being overweight. Instead of running on a treadmill, get outside and do it in the open air – you’ll get the fitness benefits, as well as the health benefits and, best of all, it’s free.budget health and fitness

3. Group training

Group training sessions normally cost a fortune even though they are generally a cheaper alternative to paying for a personal trainer on your own. If you need the motivation of group fitness to help keep you on the straight and narrow then look out for the free groups that are starting to spring up. In London, Project Awesome is a group that meets on certain days before work for a positive, motivational workout in some of the city’s most iconic locations. Although you might have to shell out for a pair of brightly coloured workout leggings, that’s the only cost.

4. Rethink cutting back

Dieting is something no one looks forward to as the concept of ‘cutting back’ is one that most of us, understandably, find rather depressing. However, if you’re looking to really change your diet next year then you can do it by switching what you buy – and this can have benefits for your bank account too. Keep a food diary and note the number of processed meals that you’re eating, the pre-prepared sandwiches that you buy and the daily coffees. In the course of a week add up just how much all of that is costing you. Now, instead of cutting back, just switch. Make soup from a single bag of vegetables and that will last you every day for lunch, as well as providing a much healthier alternative to fat packed sandwiches. Cook your own dinners – lean meat, pasta, rice, other grains and vegetables prepared in flavours such as lime, soy and chili, or cumin and coriander, are super tasty and free from all the additional sugar and additives you’ll find in processed meals. You can buy all these ingredients in bulk and pay about a third less (or more) than the cost of a packaged meal. If you’re lacking in inspiration for fresh home cooking then see 1 above!

5. Fast

Opinions differ when it comes to fasting but there’s one thing that holding back on food for 24 hours does definitely do and that’s help you lose weight. A weekly fast – perhaps just for a day or maybe two (at most and not one after the other) – can help regulate insulin sensitivity, speed up your metabolism, improve your ability to manage hunger and even improve your brain function by boosting the production of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor. Plus, there are the obvious benefits to your bank account. If you don’t want to go without food completely why not try cutting out one ‘luxury’ food for 24 hrs a week – meat, fish, cream, chocolate or alcohol are all good options.

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