Smiling young woman in-line skating on paved path

According to an article in the Washington Post in January of 2015, about half of Americans make New Year’s resolutions…but 25% of resolvers abandon their efforts within a week. Six months later, fewer than half are still plugging away. It’s hard to say why people ditch their resolutions, but part of the reason might be setting the bar too high. If everyone who bought a gym membership actually showed up, there would be no room to even walk into the lobby! Fortunately, there are plenty of ways nestle fun, easy exercise into your everyday life.

  • Find walkable destinations. Do you live near a grocery store? A library? A bank? Is there a newsstand nearby with your favorite free weekly paper in it? Take a good look around your neighborhood and see what’s within, say, a square mile of your house. Could you walk to the coffee shop instead of driving to it? Maybe there’s even a farmer’s market a few blocks away, or a restaurant. Not having to deal with parking often saves a lot of time and hassle. Do you ever mail anything? Every neighborhood has a mailbox—find yours at It’s easier than you think to walk instead of always driving. And you’ll save money on gas, too!
  • When you do drive to a destination, park at the back of the lot. You won’t have to wait, you won’t have to wonder if your car is going to be dinged when somebody parks too close to it, and you’ll get some extra steps in. Not having to cruise the lot endlessly looking for the “perfect” spot actually saves time.
  • When the choice is elevators, escalators, or stairs, choose stairs. This is particularly effective on all-you-can-eat cruises. Resolve to never, ever take the elevator, and you will get plenty of exercise to off-set those buffets! You’ll also never find yourself smashed into an overcrowded elevator. And by keeping up your cardio fitness with your stairs-first motto, when you’re in other countries where stairs are the norm and elevators the rare exception, you won’t break a sweat by just going up a flight or two. You’ll also find hiking or even just walking uphill much easier.
  • Find indoor hobbies you enjoy: take dance lessons, join an indoor volleyball or soccer league, go bowling, etc. Folks who live in single-season, warm places can enjoy outdoor activities all year, but the majority of people live in places that don’t lend themselves to being outside for at least three months of the year. It’s easier to keep doing an activity if you can do it year-round. And you’ll probably be more likely to stick with fun group activities than solo activities—peer support and encouragement is crucial. Activities with set schedules (maybe you dance every Wednesday and Sunday, for example) are easier to stick with, too, because you can integrate them into your weekly schedule.
  • Check out your community center. Most cities have centers that offer free or reduced-price classes; some also have swimming pools with open hours and/or open courts that groups can regularly schedule to use for pick-up games like tennis and basketball. Sometimes high schools offer public swimming hours, or perhaps there’s a YMCA nearby that offers inexpensive memberships.

Bottom line? You don’t need to have a gym membership to be fit. In fact, you’re more likely to exercise by tweaking your lifestyle to make room for more movement and less sitting. All it takes is some simple steps!



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