For millions of people finding the time to work out seems like an impossible goal. They struggle with their weight or worry about the toll that their sedentary lifestyle is exacting on their bodies. One day, they fear, it will be too late to stop the decline they are bound to face. Despite this worry and the knowledge that only they can change this course, many people still aren't able to make the changes they know are necessary.

Joining a gym costs hundreds of dollars, and then there's the time involved not just for a 30 minute work out, but the half hour drive to the gym and another half hour back. The decision to work out at home of course could save a bit of travel time, but the expense can't be ignored nor can the space requirements. That weight machine, treadmill, or other equipment requires a budget committment and the loss of the space equivalent to a small room. Then, if things don't work out, it was money thrown to the wind. Afterall, whether you're going to the gym or sequestering yourself away in a separate room, you're taking time away from your family and spending it doing an undesirable task, one that takes a fair amount of physical exertion and a great deal of repetition.

It seems that many people would be better served by identifying physical activities that they enjoy and perhaps ones they can share with family or friends to improve the chance they will follow through for the long term. These types of activities often require less of a monetary committment as well.

Amazingly enough, there are a fair number of physically fit individuals who seldom step foot inside a gym and much of the equipment they use costs under $100. These individuals identify activities they love to do and they don't have to be concerned with whether or not they will maintain the motivation to continue that activity over time.

For instance, my neighbor loves to swim, walk, and play basketball. In the winter he goes to the Y to swim laps at lunch time or play a game of ball , in warmer months, generally March through November, he plays basketball with his kids in the neighborhood at least 3 nights a week. In the evening, he takes a long walk with his wife several times a week, year round. I don't think he owns a single piece of work out equipment. He enjoys these activites and he gets time with family too.

For me bicycling, walking, and yoga make me feel great. I walk a few miles nearly every day with my husband year round. We bicycle a couple of times a week during warmer months for variety and our vacations often include either a full day biking trip or a couple of days of hiking. Yoga is part of my morning wake up routine and it allows me to not feel rushed. Again, the expense is minimal and my motivation is naturally high, I don't have to fight it.

Of course when someone is just starting out, having fitness goals is important. Goals help keep you motivated, especially in the beginning. Luckily though, there are simple devices that can make monitoring progress much easier.

For instance, walking is a common target. It doesn't require great physical prowess and beginners can start easy and work their way up to a faster pace, longer distances, and so forth. Walking doesn't have to require any equipment at all but certainly a few tools can help.

A basic pocket pedometer can be a great tool for this activity. Users can set a per day goal as to the number of steps they should take. These pedometers can be unobtrusive and allow the user to know when they've achieved their goal. Once met consistently and over time, the goal can be increased. Allowing the pedometer to do the measuring assures that the user has time to enjoy their surroundings or the conversation of others rather than just focusing on the physical exertion. These basic pedometers can cost under $30.

For those who want a more sophisticated device that monitors pace, time, distance covered, and so forth a pedometer watch is another option. Some of these devices also provide a barometer, altimeter, thermometer, and a digital compass. Clearly these are for a more serious workout and for those who will be walking in less familiar or remote areas. However, even with this degree of sophistication, the cost can be as low as $40 or so.

Add in true GPS functions, a heart rate monitor, measurement of calories burned, blood pressure measurement and more, and users can consider a GPS sports watch. However, this increased sophistication comes at a cost as the least expensive among these will cost around $150.

Clearly if improved health and fitness is the goal, individuals shouldn't be put off by the price or the need for large equipment. A basketball, a pair of athletic shoes, a pedometer, and so forth are all quite affordable and much more fun than the local gym.