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  • Writer's pictureEmma Neate

Thrifty Thursdays: Exercise on a budget

Since hitting my thirties, exercise is something that I have to do for both my sanity and my waistline. Exercise helps lift my mood, clear my thoughts, and shift some of the bulk from eating spaghetti with marmite and cheese on it for breakfast more regularly than I would care to admit.

That's not to say I find it easy. Making time to exercise with three small children can be a challenge, but with the child obesity crisis set to be the biggest problem facing the NHS over the next few decades, it has never been more important to model a healthy lifestyle to our little people. My husband and I try to eat a balanced diet and look like we're enjoying it, and show our kids that being active is both fun and good for you. We don't have a gym in our village, but even if we did I doubt the membership fee would be something we could easily stomach, and it would mean spending more time away from home. Instead we have found we can exercise on a shoestring in the following ways:

1. Yoga

About four mornings a week, I do this FREE yoga routine:

*there are a few notes on my 'technique' in this video, at the very bottom

If you are interested in having a go, I would print off the pictures, as it's much easier to refer to a piece of paper than to try and skip through the slides on your phone (what with adverts trying to pop up every 3 slides).

For the timings, I would highly recommend this FREE interval timer app:

Some of the poses ask you hold them for a certain number of breaths, but to me that just sounds too complicated, and if it's a mental faff to work out what you are supposed to be doing then it can easily put you off altogether. I use the interval timer app above to give me 18 sets of 30 second intervals (which is how long I hold each pose for) with five seconds in between each one to allow me to change position. My phone screen looks like this:

I know the routine off by heart from having done it so many times, so I don't need to refer to the sheet any more, but if you are referring to a piece of paper then I would allow 10 seconds between poses. Also, you might want to start with holding each pose for 20 seconds (I did), and work your way up to 25 and then 30 as you get stronger. The routine has various notes on how to switch between poses. I ignore this bit and just get myself from one pose to another without worrying how.

2. Running

My husband tries to run a couple of times a week in his lunch hour, and then do Parkrun on the weekend. If you haven't heard of Parkrun, you should check it out. It is FREE. You sign up online, print off your barcode, and then get down to your local Parkrun event at 9am on Saturday morning, and complete the 5K course along with hundreds of others. At the end you scan your barcode, and later you can log in online to view your time, and how you ranked within various brackets such as age and gender. It's a great way to improve your personal best.

Me, I run too, but more like twice a week. I joined our village running club, and I usually run about 5K each Tuesday evening, with about five other people. It only costs £20 for the year, and I honestly can't explain how these brilliant people have persuaded me to run around the village on a cold, dark, wet evening with a head torch on, but they have, and it's a laugh. I try and do another run over the weekend, and for that I use the interval timer app again, and run for 5 minutes, walk for 1, about 6 times.

3. Seven-minute workouts

The annoying thing about seven-minute workouts? You've always got time for them. Good luck trying to say 'I just don't have time today' when all you've got to do is clear a bit of space on the lounge floor and press 'go' on your phone. I use this FREE app:

There are lots of workouts on there, but I use the 7M one (7 minutes), and follow the instructions on the screen.

Again, it is timed, so you just stop and start when the beeps tell you to.

I would love to hear how you keep fit on a budget. Please comment below!


- Where you can see my mouth moving that's me telling my kids to share/not wind eachother up/be kind!

- I realise most of my poses look nothing like the lady. I am not very flexible! And that is fine.

- I don't try and stick my leg in the air for the second pose anymore. When I tried I would just fall over all the time. So now I just do a side plank instead

- Remember if you are doing something on one side then you'll need to repeat the mirror-image on the other (the photos on the website don't show both)

- I can't do crow ( very well at all, so I normally just fall forward on to the top of my head to do a sort of crouched headstand, which is better than nothing

- It took me ages to be able to do bridge/wheel (the last pose), and my husband still can't do it, so don't feel disheartened if it's taking you ages to get it.

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