11 Cheap and Easy Ways to Slim Down for Summer

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IT'S NEARLY BATHING SUIT SEASON

There's a reason "Mayday" is a distress call. May Day (or May 1) is also the day when many people begin asking themselves what it will take to get back into their favorite swimsuit by summer. Here are some free or inexpensive strategies for getting healthy, trim, and fit as the beach season rapidly approaches.

Related: 14 Trendy Workouts You Can Do for Less

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SWIM AT THE LOCAL COMMUNITY CENTER

Swimming is a great way to improve cardio fitness. You can work at your own pace, use the water as resistance to help challenge your muscles, and get started for the modest cost of admission to a local pool. Swimming is a fitness strategy that's suitable for people with a broad range of abilities.
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GET MOVING WHILE WATCHING TV

The cliché here is that you need a range of home sports equipment to exercise while you watch TV. You don't, despite what Chuck Norris says to the contrary. You can do all kinds of exercises without buying anything elaborate, starting with some small free weights. Kettlebell weights are a great choice as well, as there are lots of in-home exercises you can do with them.
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GET OUT IN THE YARD

While lying around in a hammock and admiring your garden won't help get you in shape, doing a lot of lawn mowing, weeding, digging, and hauling of mulch can make a difference. Gardening can burn 100 to 200 calories per hour, or more depending on the intensity of the work.
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GET ON THE RESISTANCE TRAIN

Your own body weight can provide the resistance necessary for resistance training. Whether you're doing push-ups, sit-ups, squats, or planks, you can strengthen your arms, legs, abs, and core without any special equipment. Low-cost equipment (such as resistance bands and skipping ropes) can help as well.
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RUN DOWN YOUR DREAM

Running is a simple, inexpensive, and effective way to get in shape. You don't have to move fast; you just have to move. According to a recent study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, even adding a little walking or jogging to your routine can potentially add years to your life.
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WALK THE DOG

Dogs need to be walked -- and so do you. If you have a dog, you're committed to getting out every day for some walking. If you're looking to get a dog, consider adopting a bigger dog from an animal shelter. Not only do big dogs need to be walked more, but they are also typically harder for shelters to place in a home. Contact your local chapter of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or shelter to find out more.
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TAKE THE STAIRS

This is a really simple one. When visiting any building where you could take an elevator, commit to taking the stairs. It may mean planning a little extra time or accounting for breaking a sweat, but the more you take the stairs, the easier it gets.
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PAIR UP WITH A BUDDY

You don't have to do all this alone. Whether you're running, going to the gym, or going swimming, find a friend who wants to share the experience, even just one day a week. You can inspire one another and help maintain momentum.
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TRACK YOUR FITNESS ACTIVITY PROPERLY

Of course, developing an exercise routine is only part of the battle. Another big piece of getting and staying fit lies in tracking your progress. Wearing a quality fitness tracker regularly can spur you to get off the couch more often and burn more calories.
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DO A HOME FOOD INSPECTION

Sometimes the fridge is not your friend -- especially when you're trying to lose weight. To effectively get in shape, do an inventory of your kitchen and get rid of anything you know isn't going to help you reach your goal. (If you have teenage kids, ask them to invite a few friends around while you're doing this. You can be sure that all signs of cookies, cupcakes, muffins, and anything vaguely sweet or dangerous to your diet will be gone pretty quickly.)
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PLAN HEALTHIER MEALS

After purging your home of all refined carbs and sugars, the key to keeping your kitchen healthy is to stock up on ingredients with low-calorie recipes in mind. Don't know any off the top of your head? Here are 25 dishes that each clock in at less than 100 calories.