Everybody knows that exercise is super-important, but only a tiny minority of people exercise on a regular basis. There are many things in life to distract from a regular exercise routine. One of those barriers is the high cost of a monthly gym membership.

The good new is that an expensive health club membership is not necessary to get into good physical shape. Home workouts are rapidly increasing in popularity as people realize how inexpensive, convenient and effective they are. All it requires is a little time and thought to design some home workout routines that work for your lifestyle and meet your goals.

While home workouts may be a lot cheaper than a gym membership, they will not be any easier. You are going to break a sweat. Also, we will begin with very simple basic exercises which basically cost you nothing. As you advance you may want to invest in some simple tools to enhance your home workouts.

First Step: Define Your Fitness Goals

Not everybody is looking for the same results from their at home workouts. By defining what you want to achieve, you'll be able to get from point A to point B more quickly.

Weight Loss. If you want to lose weight, you will be primarily performing cardio exercises and you'll need to commit to at least 25-30 minutes per workout session.

Muscle building and toning. This program will consist of primarily old school exercises and lifting weights or something else heavy (bottles of water, cans of vegetables, anything heavy you have laying around your house).

Enhanced psychological mood. If you're looking for a mood burst, exercise in the morning and your endorphins will be raised all day long.

Reduced Stress. If you're looking to reduce stress, I would suggest a heavy bag or a Tae Bo or Aerobic kickboxing DVD.

Step Two: Equipment

The good news about a home workout program is that you don't really need any equipment. There are however two simple things you may want to purchase: Shoes and a Yoga Mat. You don't need to get expensive shoes, but a pair of properly fitted shoes will reduce wear and tear on your knees and joints. A yoga mat isn't really necessary unless you have hardwood floors. You could even use a towel or a carpet fragment to provide some cushioning for your exercise surface.

Step Three: The Exercise Menu

These are all classic exercise. They've prevailed for decades for one simple reason: they produce results. The list below is designed as an exercise menu. Use this as a starting point. Try to schedule at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week.

Walking. Power-walking burns almost as many calories as jogging, but does a lot less damage to your knees and joints.

Run-Walk. Alternate 60 seconds of power-walking with 60 seconds of jogging.

Jumping Rope. 5 minutes of jumping robe burns the same amount of calories as jogging a mile.

Workout Videos. These are perfect for when it's really cold weather and you don't want to go outside.

Push Ups. A classic exercise that will never go out of style.

Abdominal Crunches. Another old standby.

Other Toning Exercises. Search the internet for other toning exercises if you're looking to tone up specific areas of your body.

Step Four: Stick To It

You're off to a great start. Now all you have to do is stick to it. Make sure to mix and match exercises and keep your home workout routines fun and interesting. Some days will be hard, but when the going gets tough, remember how much you are improving your health (and how much money you are saving by not having a gym membership).