Working out on a budget

Fitness expert Sarah Cowley shows you how to keep fit without breaking the bank.

A limited budget does not need to limit your ability to exercise. There are lots of different options in your home, community and surroundings that you may not have considered as great workout places.


Your home has more pieces of exercise equipment than you realise. Use the stairs for step-ups, use the couch for tricep dips and try push-ups against the wall for a home-based workout.

Outside, you can do a body weight circuit, shuttles on the grass or driveway runs. If you have stairs they can provide a great exercise option, whether it’s one flight or more.


Playgrounds are fantastic places to exercise. In between pushing your kids on the swings, try hanging for a time off an overhead rail. You can progress your hanging by lifting your knees towards your chest and lowering. Chin-ups can be done at the playground. If you need to, jump up to generate momentum to get you up until you progress to the real thing. Try the monkey bars. They might be a bit more challenging than back in primary school, but don’t let that put you off!

Parks are a great place to meet up with friends and kick a ball around or shoot some hoops. Arranging friends to have a run around through a social game of touch rugby, backyard cricket or even having a few relays with the kids is free and fun for all. We are spoilt for walking and running tracks in New Zealand to explore with others.

Swimming or water walking don’t have to be done in the pool. If you can’t do weight-bearing exercise for one reason or another, take advantage of our lakes, beaches and rivers. Use your surroundings to help you look after your health. Just be careful of hazards and keep yourself safe.

There are no limits to activity. Be creative with what you have to keep looking after you and your future!

Single-leg tricep tips on your couch

This is a fantastic exercise you can do at home or in a park, for leg, arm and core strength. Work your way into increasing the range in which you ‘dip’, and the height you maintain your free leg at.


1. Place your hands by your side as you sit on the edge of your couch.


2. With your hips and knees at 90 degrees, lift one leg off the ground with a straight knee.


3. Bend at the elbow, and slightly lower yourself down so that your bottom is below the seat of the couch.


4. Push into your hands to straighten your elbows, returning to your starting position.


5. Lower your leg to the ground. Alternate your support leg either between every repetition or after a set. Remember to keep your core switched on throughout the exercise!

First published: Feb 2017

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