9 Best Low-Cost Exercises for Weight Loss

Photo (cc) by DavidSpinks

Americans certainly have a desire to lose weight. A Gallup poll found that 51 percent of us hope to shed at least some pounds.

But if the spirit is willing, the body is lagging badly behind in the effort.

Although exercise is one of the best ways to tone up and trim down, just 20 percent of Americans engage in the proper amount of activity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To be fair, it is likely that many of us have tried to exercise, only to have gotten discouraged when little or no weight loss occurred. But such disappointment may simply be a result of choosing the wrong activity.

Following are nine exercises that science has identified as true calorie-burners. And as an added bonus for those deterred by the thought of a pricey gym membership, all of these activities are low cost or no cost.

All calorie measurements come from the Mayo Clinic and represent the amount of calories burned at three different weight levels in one hour.

1. Jumping rope

5103312233_42f355440f_b

Jumping rope not only tops our list of weight-loss exercises, but it’s also among the most economical ways to whittle your waistline. You can purchase a high-quality jump rope for $10 or less. According to WebMD:

You’d have to run an eight-minute mile to work off more calories than you’d burn jumping rope.

Plus, jump ropes are perfectly portable, allowing you to easily switch up your scenery. They may even bring you back to your childhood!

Calories burned:

  • 861 (160 pounds)
  • 1,074 (200 pounds)
  • 1,286 (240 pounds)

2. Running

17155410078_a91c58c58a_k

Running is another great and economical way to help shed unwanted pounds. According to Runner’s World:

It probably takes you less than 10 minutes to run off 100 calories — a rate that leaves most other forms of exercise in the dust.

Obviously, running faster should result in a better burn, but every time your foot hits the pavement or trail, you’re taking a step in the right direction. The cost: approximately $50 for a decent pair of running shoes.

Calories burned (running at 8 mph):

  • 861 (160 pounds)
  • 1,074 (200 pounds)
  • 1,286 (240 pounds)

3. Swimming

5318761989_3b5d75dc07_b

Make a splash in the water, and it will translate to the scale. According to Fitday.com:

Swimming is one of the best forms of cardiovascular exercise because it works the entire body, but also provides a low-impact form of exercise. Regardless of your swimming ability, with some practice, you should be able to hit the pool and lose some weight when swimming.

The more vigorous your laps, the more calories you’ll torch. Look for free ways to brush up on your backstroke — like at a swimming pool in a friend’s backyard, a local lake or the ocean.

Calories burned:

  • 715 (160 pounds)
  • 892 (200 pounds)
  • 1,068 (240 pounds)

4. Climbing stairs

3030545823_3818c5f8f4_b

When it comes to achieving your weight-loss goals, climbing stairs can really give you a leg up. According to Shape:

Climbing stairs is one of the best ways to stay healthy because it increases cardiovascular levels and bone mass, making it an ideal choice for preventive medicine. Just ask your doctor for a fitness program, and he will have you walking up the stairs.

You don’t need to spring for fancy equipment or a pricey gym membership. Instead, climb stairs in your home, at your office or anywhere else you encounter them.

Calories burned (stair treadmill):

  • 657 (160 pounds)
  • 819 (200 pounds)
  • 981 (240 pounds)

5. Basketball

3149619647_36ae9c6c6a_b

Shooting hoops can also help you lower the needle on the scale, according to Livestrong.com:

Playing basketball can help you burn excess calories when incorporated into your weight-loss nutrition plan. Running up and down a basketball court and shooting hoops offers plenty of exercise. Exercising drills that basketball players perform during practices will not only burn fat, but strengthen your muscles and improve your coordination as well.

Basketball prices vary, but we have seen them for under $10. So gather some friends or find a pick-up game and shoot for weight-loss success.

Calories burned:

  • 584 (160 pounds)
  • 728 (200 pounds)
  • 872 (240 pounds)

6. Flag (or touch) football

5245049099_4ba93428e0_b

Tossing around the old pigskin is not only fun, it’s also a fabulous form of fitness, says Fitday.com:

Flag football is a group sport that engages your entire body. This high impact sport provides you with an intense cardiovascular workout. While out on the field, you will be running, sprinting and jogging, and that is all in just one play. This fast-paced game requires constant high-intensity actions that have you burning hundreds of calories per hour.

It’s time to channel your inner Peyton Manning!

Calories burned:

  • 584 (160 pounds)
  • 728 (200 pounds)
  • 872 (240 pounds)

7. Aerobics

6201493021_a2892163dc_b

Or, how about getting in touch with your inner Jane Fonda? According to Livestrong.com:

When combined with a low-calorie diet, aerobics can lead to significant weight loss…Gradually increase the duration and intensity of your aerobic workouts for even greater weight loss.

Are issues, such as joint pain, preventing you from getting physical? Try water aerobics, a great choice for those with arthritis, back problems, fibromyalgia, leg injuries and other conditions.

Calories burned (high-impact aerobics):

  • 533 (160 pounds)
  • 664 (200 pounds)
  • 796 (240 pounds)

8. Backpacking

30111378_b039da2191_b

Want a great weight-loss activity you can enjoy on your own or with a group of friends? Consider backpacking. You likely won’t even realize the pounds are melting off as you take in your surroundings while toting around your gear.

Plus, you’ll only have the provisions you brought along, eliminating fattening food temptations.

Calories burned:

  • 511 (160 pounds)
  • 637 (200 pounds)
  • 763 (240 pounds)

9. Hiking

122167994_30e86c9f85_b

The next time someone tells you to take a hike, listen to them. Hiking is a great workout for those who don’t want to commit to backpacking. According to Health.com:

Few activities beat the body benefits of hiking; you’re slipping cardio into your day and burning up to 530 calories per hour on the trail. And in gusty weather, the wind resistance can boost your burn potential by about 5 percent, experts say. It’s a terrific total-body workout.

Now, who’s ready to hit the trails?

Calories burned:

  • 438 (160 pounds)
  • 546 (200 pounds)
  • 654 (240 pounds)

Do you know of other activities that can help you shed pounds? Share them in our Forums. It’s a place where you can swap questions and answers on money-related matters, life hacks and ingenious ways to save.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
10 Foods That Can Keep for Years
10 Foods That Can Keep for Years

These are some of the longest-lasting groceries you can buy.

7 Ways to Shop at Costco Without a Membership
7 Ways to Shop at Costco Without a Membership

You don’t necessarily need to join to get in on the warehouse store’s savings.

Never Buy These 12 Things at a Thrift Store
Never Buy These 12 Things at a Thrift Store

Sometimes a great deal is not worth it — or, even worse, is dangerous.

Marooned at Home? Earn Some Cash Playing on Your Computer
Marooned at Home? Earn Some Cash Playing on Your Computer

Earn cash by reading emails, taking surveys, playing games, shopping and signing up for offers through this website.

America’s Most Reliable Appliance Brand Is a Surprise
America’s Most Reliable Appliance Brand Is a Surprise

Have you heard of this appliance manufacturer?

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
10 Things Frugal People Never Buy
10 Things Frugal People Never Buy

If you’re a true tightwad, the mere thought of spending money on these items gives you the willies.

10 Useless Purchases You Need to Stop Making
10 Useless Purchases You Need to Stop Making

You might as well flush your money down the loo if you spend it on these things.

The 16 Cars Most Likely to Last 200,000 Miles
The 16 Cars Most Likely to Last 200,000 Miles

One automaker takes half the spots on a list of the longest-lasting vehicles.

7 Social Security Rules Everyone Should Know by Now
7 Social Security Rules Everyone Should Know by Now

Confusion over Social Security is a shame, considering how many of us will need this money badly.

9 Shopping Mistakes to Avoid at Costco
9 Shopping Mistakes to Avoid at Costco

Are you missing out on serious savings at your favorite warehouse club?

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

They don’t make coffee makers like this anymore.

11 Products Now in Short Supply Due to the Pandemic
11 Products Now in Short Supply Due to the Pandemic

Many goods we take for granted have become tough to find in 2021.

7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

14 Things You Should Stop Buying in 2021
14 Things You Should Stop Buying in 2021

These convenient household products come with hidden costs that you might not have considered.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

Is Writing a Check Still Safe?
Is Writing a Check Still Safe?

Every time you pay by check, you hand your bank account numbers to a stranger.

6 Ways to Protect Your Retirement Accounts From Hackers
6 Ways to Protect Your Retirement Accounts From Hackers

Imagine having $245,000 stolen from your retirement account — and not being reimbursed.

8 Things You Should Replace to Improve Your Life Today
8 Things You Should Replace to Improve Your Life Today

Being frugal isn’t smart if you put off replacing these items.

This Is the Most Dependable Car Brand in the U.S.
This Is the Most Dependable Car Brand in the U.S.

This brand’s vehicles are least likely to give drivers repair headaches, according to J.D. Power.

13 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now
13 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

7 Hidden Sections of Amazon Every Shopper Should Know
7 Hidden Sections of Amazon Every Shopper Should Know

These little-known departments of Amazon are gold mines for deal-seekers and impulse shoppers alike.

7 Income Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook
7 Income Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook

Did you realize all these tax credits and deductions exist — or that they apply to retirees?

7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking
7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking

There’s more to Social Security than retirement benefits.

The 6 Best Investing Apps for Beginners
The 6 Best Investing Apps for Beginners

If you’re looking to ease into investing in the coronavirus economy with just a little money, check out these easy-to-use tools.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.