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Cheap ways to lose weight without the gym

January 3, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Can't afford a high-priced gym? Never fear. Consumer Reports says you can get in shape at home without spending lots of money.

"All you need are a few inexpensive props and a good fitness routine to get started," said Gayle Williams with Consumer Reports.

A stability ball can help build your core strength and improve your balance. You can also use it to tone your glutes and legs, and it will only cost you about $30.

Jumping rope for 15 minutes is an instant cardio workout. A jump rope with nonslip foam handles is the best. Price: Around $6.

Or you can try hula hooping. Not only is it a good cardio exercise, it's also great for your core.

"In 10 weeks I lost 2 1/2 inches off my waist," said hula enthusiast Anne Galletta.

The cost of a hula hoop is also around $6.

"Elastic bands or tubes are another great item to have. You can use them for resistance training to strengthen and tone your muscles," said Williams.

For just $8 and up, it's a good investment.

An exercise mat is also handy. The extra cushioning is helpful for push-ups and other exercises you do on the floor. Mats go for about $20.

Free weights are another useful tool. A pair costs anywhere from $10 to $60.

"If you can, buy two pairs -- a lighter pair to work your arms and shoulders, and a heavier pair to work your back and chest," said Williams.

A good exercise routine consists of 30 minutes of aerobic exercise five days a week and strength training two to three days a week.

"Just put on a pair of sweats, you pick up a pair of hand weights, and you're ready to go," said Anita Bae.

Your heart is in good shape and your muscles are strong, but flexibility is the other component. A foam roller is important because it helps release tight, tense connective tissue that is often responsible for injury. Foam rollers average between $12 and $40.