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Cheap Fitness Fun

Share cheap fitness with your family - most activities won't cost a dime.


Updated October 19, 2012

Sports equipment and gym memberships can be costly. Even an outing to the batting cages or bowling alley can add up, especially if you have a large family. But opportunities for cheap fitness abound if you know where to look and what to play. Try these ideas for low-budget, active fun.

Make everyday play more active.

Cheap fitness at an indoor dance party
Manchan/Digital Vision - Getty Images
Listening to music? Get up and dance. Hanging out in the backyard? Play some classic kids' games (think Red Rover or Foursquare). Playgrounds, walks, and even housework are readily available, cost next to nothing, and provide cheap fitness along with fun.

Do it yourself.

Cheap fitness equipment - homemade soda bottle bat
Erica Greis
Versatile toys like balls, hula hoops, and jump ropes are inexpensive, but you can also stock a kiddie workout area for free. Try repurposing and recycling everyday household items to turn them into free kids' fitness equipment (that you just might want to play with too).

Get set, get wet.

AquaAntics Skip n Splash sprinkler
Motivate kids to move on a lazy, warm day with easy, inexpensive water games and activities. They're even simpler than a trip to the pool (but don't forget the sunscreen)!

Get inspired online.

BAM online from the CDC
If your child is a reluctant exerciser, appeal to her love of technology. Point her toward free, inspirational websites designed especially for kids. Adults can visit Calorie Count for tons of nutritional, and motivational, information, or try a health/fitness iPhone or Twitter app.

Pack your own snacks.

Girl eating an apple
Keep portable, packable items handy at home, in the car, or in your bag. Snacks you stock yourself are healthier, and usually much cheaper, than impulse buys and vending-machine fare.

Give the gift of cheap fitness.

Digging in the sand at the beach
Catherine Holecko
Sure, a brand-new bike, scooter, or soccer goal will inspire physical play—but you can also encourage kids to be active with smaller, simpler, cheaper toys and gear. Try these small-size, but high-impact gifts to inspire action. They are perfect for stocking stuffers, birthday treats, or report-card rewards.

Take a hike.

Girls walking outside
Andersen Ross / Getty Images
A hike, walk, or bike ride is an easy, usually free or inexpensive way to breathe in some fresh air, get some exercise, and have fun with your family. Use one of these interactive trail finder tools to look for the perfect trail in your area. A hike makes a great addition to a family staycation, too.

Pump up playground play.

Preschooler on playground climber
Catherine Holecko

Take your kids to a neighborhood park, and don't just sit on the bench! Swing with your baby, slide with your preschooler, play tag with your grade-schooler, or challenge your middle-schooler to create an obstacle course. To bust boredom, invite friends to join you; scope out a new playplace; pack a picnic, some sidewalk chalk, or a few favorite outdoor toys.

Plan parties at home.

Party games can promote cooperation and teamwork
George Doyle - Getty Images
Save big bucks on kids' parties by hosting them at home. All you need are these simple, multi-purpose games, some healthy snacks, and a few inexpensive party favors. Or, use these game ideas to inspire cheap fitness fun at home, pitting kids against parents!

Kick off a kickball game.

Super-size Kick Croquet from eSportsonline
Whether you gather a group or just play pick-up in your backyard or park, kickball is fun for tots, teens, and grown-ups. All you need is a ball, a flat surface, and a lot of enthusiasm.
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