Life

31 Ways To Work Out That Don’t Involve Going To The Gym Or Playing Team Sports

recep-bg/E+/Getty Images
Updated: 

For a lot of people, gyms are either a love them or hate them kind of thing. You can still work up a good sweat, though, even if you fall into the hate them category. If you're wondering how to work out if you're not a gym person, there are a lot of options that don't involve touching gross fitness equipment. Whatever your reasons for avoiding the gym, it doesn't mean you can't get a little exercise in on your own.

"Getting creative with your workout outside of the gym creates infinite possibilities," says National Council on Strength and Fitness-certified personal trainer Leslie Clark. "New stimuli in a less controlled environment can change the way you see working out," he tells Bustle. And making your workout something you look forward to, rather than hate, can help you get active more often.

Whether it's walking around your neighborhood, heading to the beach, or flipping on YouTube to help you get your heart rate up, working out is so much more than what you can do on the gym floor. The trick is figuring out what you love, rather than forcing yourself to do something you hate.

If you're looking for some ways to get your sweat on without setting foot in a gym, here are 31 possibilities.

We only include products that have been independently selected by Bustle’s editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

1
YouTube Workouts

No gym equipment at home? No problem! YouTube has boatloads of workouts that you can do with no equipment at all. Without any commitment — you don't even have to finish watching a video if you don't like it! — you can find out whether you like kickboxing, yoga, low-intensity cardio, or anything in between.

2
Fitness Apps

If the gym isn't your favorite, but you still need some structure to get going, there are tons of fitness apps that can help. If you're looking to explore multiple types of fitness to find the one(s) you like best, apps like Down Dog Yoga offer everything from soothing yoga to heart-pumping high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout routines.

3
Walking

Walking is a great way to get in a little exercise, and it's something you usually have to do anyway. In addition to the physical benefits of walking (like improved endurance and heart health), taking a stroll through nature can reduce overall depression and anxiety, according to a 2018 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. I end up walking about five miles a day just walking my dog. If you want to get even more walking in, use your getaway sticks to get to where you're going instead of driving or taking the subway.

4
The Scientific 7-Minute Workout

If the mere thought of working out fills you with dread, you can actually get it all over in seven minutes. Check out the Scientific 7-Minute Workout, which incorporates cardio, abs, and strength training in a super-fast workout you can do at home. The best part? If you do it right when you wake up you don't have to think about it for the rest of the day. This is my go-to when I'm busy AF because I can do it and forget about it.

5
Roller Skating

I don't know about you, but HBO's Sharp Objects filled me with roller-skating FOMO, and I immediately ordered myself a pair of roller skates from Amazon. Roller skates are back, they'll totally transport you back to those childhood skate parties, and roller skating is a super fun way to get a workout in.

6
Morning Yoga

A yoga studio isn't the only place you can learn about mindfulness, flexibility, and strength. You can learn so much about yoga on YouTube, and if you don't want to, you don't even have to do a full routine or video. Once you get the basics of a morning flow like sun salutations down, you can get in some yoga for however long (or short) you want to as part of your morning routine.

7
Evening Stretches

Let your body recover at the end of a long day with some solid stretches. Forming an evening stretch routine can loosen up your body and help your mind prepare for sleep. You can even do them in bed if you really want.

8
Dance It Out

Love to dance? Aside from hitting the clubs on Saturday nights, there's a dance video on YouTube for everyone. Not only is dancing a powerful way to work up a sweat and tone your body, it's also a proven way to relieve anxiety and stress.

9
Put A Gym In A Bag

Grab all of your gear — a yoga mat, a water bottle, and resistance bands — throw it in a bag, and head to your favorite park. You really don't need much to get in a good workout. Spread out your yoga mat and use your resistance bands to help you get started with strength and flexibility training. By making your own gym in a bag, you can carry everything you need with you wherever you go.

10
Walk Your Dog

If you have a dog (or your friends have one you can hang out with), consider taking Fido for more walks so you can both get in a little bit of exercise. When I first started working from home, I began walking my dog a lot more as a way to ensure I got up from my desk every few hours. If you don't have a dog, most animal rescues and shelters rely on volunteers to walk their dogs. Find a shelter near you and ask how you can help. It's a win-win for everybody.

11
Take The Stairs

Getting in a workout can be as easy as taking the stairs. If it's safe to do so, opt for the stairs instead of the elevator at your office or apartment. Many cities also have hidden staircases all over town (the nearly 400 steps of the Castellammare stairs in LA will give you a breathtaking ocean view). Find the outdoor stairs near you, turn up your favorite tunes, and start climbing.

12
Biking

If you haven't been on a bike since you were a tween, you're totally missing out. You can grab yourself a beach cruiser at places like Target for a little more than $150. Tune in to your favorite podcast, find a bike path near you, and enjoy the ride.

13
Take A Hike

You don't have to live in the mountains to go hiking. Whether it's a gorgeous nature trail or an urban trek through the city, hiking can help you connect with your body and the world around you. Hiking is a free or low-cost way to decrease your stress levels and blood pressure while increasing your immune system functions and focus levels, according to a 2018 study published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine.

14
Do Some Gardening

Yep, gardening is actually a super great form of exercise. If you don't know what I mean, you probably haven't spent a lot of time in the dirt lately. Between repotting your green friends and making sure they're pruned and happily watered, spending time in an actual garden or just caring for the herbs on your balcony can get you moving more than you might expect.

15
Jump Rope

All you have to do is hop outside to get an amazing workout with a jump rope, one of the most versatile (and transportable!) pieces of exercise equipment. Whether you want to skip like you did as a kid (Double Dutch, anyone?) or go all CrossFit and try some double unders, jumping rope is equal parts nostalgic and challenging.

16
Get Off The Bus A Few Stops Early

Realized you hadn't really gotten up from your desk all day on your commute? Pull the cord and get off the bus a couple stops early. Explore your neighborhood and get those steps in all at the same time.

17
Find A Box And Jump On It

We're not talking a cardboard box, here. You want something very stable, like a plyo box you can get at most places that sell fitness equipment. Turn your workout into a literal game of jumping, and suddenly exercise will be a lot more fun.

18
Turn Your Favorite Show Into A Workout Game

Every time Coulson makes a dad joke on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., do 10 jumping jacks. Every time someone dies a horrible death on Grey's Anatomy, go for 15 sob-filled bodyweight squats. Whatever your show of choice, find your favorite recurring tropes and make a game of it.

19
Choose A Scooter Over The Subway

I don't know about you, but 2020 is giving me a serious case of nostalgia for the 1990s. With so many motorized scooters available for rent on city streets, you can get a fun throwback workout on your way to your local coffee shop. Sure, it might be motorized, but with how fast those things can go, you'll be engaging your whole body to stay upright.

20
Swimming

Most cities and towns have public pools that offer hours for lap swimmers on the cheap. If you have access to a pool, swimming is a great way to get a chill, low-impact workout when you want to feel like a fish.

21
Try Pull-ups

I know, you're not a gym person, but hear me out. Buy a simple pull-up bar, hang it on a doorway in your apartment (most bars require no drilling or tools at all), and every time you walk past it, hop up there and give it a go. Can't do a pull-up yet? That's OK! Jump up to try and get your chin over the bar and lower yourself down as slowly as you can. You'll build up to it over time, and the reps will add up.

22
Wake Yourself Up With Push-ups (Or Your Bodyweight Move Of Choice)

Make a quick bout of exercise part of your morning routine, just like brushing your teeth or brewing some coffee. Pick your favorite bodyweight exercise (think push-ups, squats, or lunges), choose a number, and get after it before you hop into the shower.

23
Hit The Beach

Sometimes, the hardest part of working out is not liking where you are (for example, despising being at the gym). But if you love the beach, that can be a great place to inspire some movement. Whether you set up your towel and take a few a dips in the ocean, jog on the sand, or just take a stroll around the boardwalk, being by the water offers so many different options for exercise that probably won't feel like exercise at all.

24
Go Grocery Shopping

Grocery bags can get heavy, especially if you go with the intention of stocking up a bit. Carrying all those bags back to your apartment (and up a zillion flights of stairs to get to your front door) can get even more challenging. It 100% counts as a workout.

25
Do Some Baking

No, really. Have you ever kneaded challah or pizza dough? It's a workout in and of itself. Your arms, your hands, and even your heart rate can get some solid exercise in from the sheer rigor of preparing some tasty homemade dough.

26
Set A Timer

Set a timer for an interval of your choice (think 10, 15, or 20 minutes). Whenever the timer goes off, relieve some stress with five or 10 pushups or bodyweight squats. See how many you can get done in a day, and maybe even try to beat yesterday's score.

27
Try A Standing Desk

Standing at your desk can help loosen your hips and upper back, which get super tight when you sit at your desk all day. You don't have to stand all day long, either — simply alternating between standing and sitting can help keep your sitting muscles more balanced. Many of these cool standing desk contraptions have both standing and sitting height options. Don't want to buy a whole new unit? You can simply add converters to your current sitting desk so you can exercise full control of your movements.

28
Clean The House

Scrubbing down the bathroom, taking out the trash, or vacuuming under the dining room table might not be chores you look forward to, but you can comfort yourself with knowing that they can serve multiple purposes. Cleaning the house can be great exercise by getting your heart rate up and your muscles engaged (think of bringing that vacuum back and forth a billion times), giving you all the more reason to do your part on your roommates' chore wheel.

29
Do A Push-up When Your Phone Buzzes

Every time your phone gets a notification, do just one push-up, or squat, or lunge (well, two lunges, to keep your legs even). If you do just one little exercise every time your hear that buzz, your reps will add up throughout the day.

30
Volunteer

Whether it's at a local animal shelter, community garden, or leading neighborhood walking tours, volunteering offers a lot of opportunities to get moving. Plus, you won't only be doing great things for your body — you'll be giving back to your community, as well.

31
Go Exploring

Carve out the time to walk to that new Vietnamese restaurant you've been meaning to try, or that state park you live 15 minutes from but have never actually visited. Go old-school and grab a map if you want to. Your neighborhood almost certainly has a lot of opportunities for exploring, so get your adventure (and your workout) on by checking out some places you've never been.

Studies Referenced:

Song, C. (2018) Psychological benefits of walking through forest areas. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30544682.

Mitten, D. (2018) Hiking: A low-cost, accessible intervention to promote health benefits. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32063815.

Experts:

Leslie Clark, certified personal trainer, National Council on Strength and Fitness

This article was originally published on