The gym is an ­intimidating place for a lot of us – but paying to join one is not the only fitness option.

Statistics show that 65 per cent of women feel apprehensive about working out in public ­– because of what other people might think.

But there’s no need to let your gym fear stop you making healthy habits. Research has shown that exercise can combat mild to ­moderate depression, improve body composition, decrease stress and manage a multitude of blood markers, such as ­cholesterol and A1C.

It will also reduce your risk of falls, lessen pain and allow you to remain active throughout your life.

Here we have put together some top tips on how to get fitter without a costly gym membership.

There are many free smartphone apps you can download to help

Use your phone

For a gentle ­introduction to exercise, a tracking app such as MyFitnessPal could help. You can set it up with a step target and then, as you walk around, it counts your steps.

It is satisfying to see how many calories you burn. And as your fitness levels go up, you can ­increase your step target.

Another app, Freeletics, has workouts that require no ­equipment, or if you fancy ­something more gentle, Yoga Wake Up guides you through ­meditations and yoga exercises.

The NHS-approved Couch to 5K podcast is also free to ­download. It guides you through runs, increasing in speed and distance up to 5km.

Dive into the pool

As exercises go, you can’t beat a gentle swim to start off your ­fitness regime.

It gets your heart rate and ­fitness levels up, but at the same time is low impact, so you are less likely to get injured or pull muscles.

Swimming helps to tone, build strength and keeps your heart healthy.

As you use so much of your body, it’s very effective at burning calories for weight-loss too. Most pools or leisure ­centres have adult only or ladies only swimming ­sessions so you can feel more comfortable.

Clean your house

It is a task many of us want to avoid – but by energetically cleaning the house you will ­improve fitness levels.

According to experts, ­cleaning can burn 170 cals per hour. Hoovering, mopping, ­dusting the kitchen cabinets and hauling shopping in from the car
all count towards improving your fitness, even if it is only in a small way. And that is far better than no exercise at all.

Try ten-minute workouts

The NHS has a handy guide on a range of ten-minute workouts you can do from the comfort of your own home.

They have put together six workouts to do once a day, each focussing on a different area of the body.

All of are free of charge, as well as equipment-free. They are available online at nhs.com.

Zumba is a fun activity to try with friends

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Find an activity you enjoy with friends

Choosing an exercise you enjoy can take the anxiety out of ­participating, especially if you are with a group of friends.

This is shown to be the case with Zumba – one of the most popular exercises of the last decade.

The class you choose doesn’t need to be called a sport – it could be anything from salsa to self-defence.

Click on to YouTube

You might think YouTube is all funny cat videos and vloggers. But you’ll also find a range of fitness gurus making workout videos which are easy to ­follow from home.

There’s the BeFiT channel, taking you through everything from strength training to barre classes.

BodyRock is for interval training, The Fitness Blender has 500 no-fuss workout guides and The Useful Yoga series has videos ranging from ten minutes to half an hour, addressing stress, insomnia and weight-loss through yoga.

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