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If joining a gym or fitness organization isn't your thing but a structured setting would get you to exercise, don't overlook classes offered by hospitals near you.

Many hospitals have gone beyond providing illness support groups and disease information sessions to offering exercise classes. And there's a pretty good mix -- self-defense, yoga, strength training, massage and more.

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Many classes run weekly for a few months, so you aren't making a long-term financial commitment, which has a lot of appeal. Most hospitals charge for classes, but some classes are free. For example, Anne Arundel Medical Center charges for T'ai Chi, and Good Samaritan is home to a free chair exercise program for older people. And a number of fitness classes are either ongoing or have a session that will start soon.

Classes are listed on a hospital web site, but may take some poking around. Look under classes, events, calendar and wellnes. An occasional one-session nutrition program may be in the mix.

This is by no means every area hospital, but it will get you started:

For Anne Arundel Medical Center, click here.

For Baltimore Washington Medical Center, click here.

For Howard County General Hospital, click here.

For Good Samaritan Hospital, click here.

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