12 Ways to Work Out at Home and Stay Motivated

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Many consumers chase the goals of losing weight and getting fit by joining a gym, at an average cost of about $700 a year -- and about two out of three don't use their memberships, according to data compiled by the Statistic Brain Research Institute. Others spring for a thousand-dollar treadmill or weight machine that ends up sitting idle. There are ways to get fit -- and stay motivated -- for much less. Try these approaches to working out at home in 2018.

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Creating a clear plan with milestones for the year is essential to success. Focus on small, actionable goals, such as working out three times a week, rather than dwelling on the big picture, such as losing 25 pounds. Check in with the plan periodically to keep from straying too far off course.
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There are many types of workouts and fitness programs that cost little or nothing. Different people have success with different approaches, and it may be fun to try out a variety of programs, apps, and tracking systems. If one doesn't feel right, switch to something else rather than give up on a goal.
woman practicing yoga at home standing on a mat on her living room floor while watching and participating in a class
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After choosing a type of training to start, a YouTube video -- or even a workout DVD from the library -- can set the pace for free. Plenty of at-home fitness programs require no equipment, or just a few inexpensive items such as dumbbells or elastic bands for resistance training and a jump rope for cardio.

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Some quick online searching can lead to abundant free videos with step-by-step instructions for doing yoga. Free apps let users combine poses to create a complete workout in addition to choosing a predesigned sequence. Many apps also offer premium subscription services or unlock a suite of advanced features for $5 to $10 a month -- less than the cost of an in-studio class.

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Outside support is an important part of keeping a workout plan on track. Teaming up with others can boost motivation, and friendly competition can help push everyone along. Online communities such as Bodyspace, NerdFitness, and Reddit's r/Fitness are filled with thousands of fitness fanatics and amateurs willing to share advice and support.

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Short on time? The New York Times offers a free mobile app that combines two seven-minute workout routines designed to target the whole body. Another free option, Max Capacity Training, is user-friendly and suited to people who lack workout equipment. The fitness program involves exercising 16 minutes a day, three days a week, for 12 weeks, and combines high-intensity interval training with progressively challenging body-weight exercises.
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Video-game fans who need a push to get off the couch can find kindred spirits at Fitocracy. Users record their workouts to earn points and "level up." The platform also hosts coach-led, multi-week classes. Another popular downloadable fitness game is Zombies, Run!, which boasts more than 1 million participants and 200 missions. This app turns a run into a survival adventure as players collect supplies to build a town, dodge zombies, and explore the story with each mile.

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Consider all the willpower it takes to wake up, get dressed, and go for a run (especially when it's wet or cold out), or squeeze in an at-home workout before the morning rush. Eliminate some of the decision-making and stress by preparing the night before. Set out or sleep in gym attire, pack a lunch, and do whatever else is possible to keep a lack of time from leading to a missed morning workout.

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Many employers provide incentives for healthy behavior such as exercise or participation in a smoking cessation program. The reward might be reduced insurance premiums, contributions to health savings accounts, discounts, or cash. In 2017, the average financial incentive offered through corporate wellness programs was $742 per employee, according to a survey by Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health, and the number has been trending upward.

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Although some people exercise solely for fitness, the promise of weight loss is often a big incentive. With DietBet, users lay a wager on whether they can lose 4 percent of their weight in four weeks or 10 percent in six months. After the period ends, those who hit the mark get to split the pot leftover from those who didn't meet the goal.
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For one-on-one support and advice, a personal trainer is hard to beat -- but generally pricey. To keep costs down, opt for an online program that personalizes the experience, such as Daily Burn ($15 a month).

woman doing a push-up on yoga mat in living room
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Rather than try to find time to work out between the items on your to-do list, make exercise a priority. Soon, the workout will become a routine that other tasks get scheduled around and a habit that's difficult to break.

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