Make Your Workout Greener
Here we are about a third of the way through the year, which means you have had a few months to either make good on those New Year’s resolutions, or let them quietly slip to the sidelines of life. One of the greatest things about spring is that it gives us the chance to start fresh once again, to recharge ourselves and welcome positive, healthy change. Spring is also the time of year when we realize that the season of short sleeves, bare legs and bathing suits is right around the corner. All of this can fuel you with fresh inspiration to reach your goal of becoming the healthiest possible version of yourself.
When it comes to being healthy, it is important to remember that health isn’t just about what is going on with your body, but also what is going on within your environment. Too many times our commitment to physical health contradicts the actions that we take to live a little “greener” and to protect the environment. So, in honor of Earth Day this year why not do a few things to make your workout a little greener? Here are some simple ways to go easy on the environment while also building up your cardio stamina.
- I admit that I can be a sucker for shiny fitness equipment. The idea of trying out the newest machine can inspire me to get moving when I don’t always feel up to it. However, taking that trip to the gym can be a strain on your schedule and the environment. There really isn’t a reason to drive twenty minutes across town to run on the treadmill when you have beautiful neighborhood streets, a local park or hiking trail closer to home. Save the gas money and look for ways to utilize your natural surroundings rather than drive to the gym. If you are fortunate enough to live within walking or jogging distance from your gym, that is great. But keep in mind that those fancy machines require electrical energy to keep them going. One treadmill can use as much electricity as fifteen incandescent lightbulbs. Look towards nature for alternatives and save the machinery for the days when the weather isn’t cooperating with your outdoor workout plans.
- Do you head out to the gym, running track or community swimming pool at the same time every week to meet the same group of friends? This is a perfect opportunity to be a little gentler on the environment by carpooling each time. Even saving five to ten miles of driving each week is enough to reduce your ecological footprint. Every little bit helps. Plus, it gives you a little extra time to catch up with your workout buddies before you get all sweaty and serious.
- Check out the local parks and play like a kid. Saturday afternoon might not be the best time to try this, but weekday mornings are the perfect time to head to your neighborhood park and take advantage of the playground equipment. Try climbing the rock wall or using the monkey bars. Some parks have even started installing adult fitness equipment in a designated area of the park away from where most of the children congregate. Not only do you get to challenge yourself with activities that you haven’t done in years, you also get the bonus of being in the outdoors and embracing youthful playfulness.
- If you absolutely love working out on professional exercise equipment, you can set up a small home gym rather than traveling to one. The money that you save in membership costs can go towards paying for your equipment. Since the health of the planet is on your mind, you might want to consider buying high quality used equipment rather than new. Just remember that once you are ready to upgrade or try something new that you should first look at either selling or donating your gently used equipment rather than setting it out on the corner with the weekly trash pickup.
Become Equipment Conscious
- One of the most important pieces of equipment for health and fitness is something that is small, portable and absolutely essential. I am of course speaking about a bottle of water. You shouldn’t set out to do any type of exercise without being properly hydrated and having a water source close by to quench your thirst throughout your workout. However, an unfortunate fact is that the average American uses nearly one-hundred seventy plastic bottles of water each year but only recycles a fraction of them. The amount of oil that is used to produce those bottles is enough to fuel over one million cars. You know what I am getting at here. Stop with the bottled water madness and invest in a couple of refillable water bottles instead. If you a worried about the purity of local water resources, you can add a simple filtration device to your faucet or buy a water bottle that comes with a built-in filter.
- When choosing an exercise or yoga mat, look for one that is made from cotton, hemp, jute or other renewable resources. Not only is the production of these mats better for the environment, think about how much skin to mat content you have during an average workout. Think about how close your face gets to the mat and the toxins that you could potentially be breathing in. This is a perfect example of how what is best for the Earth is almost always best for your own body as well.
- Regardless if you run, walk or do hundreds of cardio steps with each workout, if you exercise regularly you are going to go through shoes pretty quickly. The best approach is to have several pairs that your rotate through, but eventually the time will come that each pair will need to be replaced. When this happens, don’t just chuck them into the trash. Donate them instead. Even if your shoes are worn to the point that a thrift store wants nothing to do with them, you can still donate them to be recycled into playground and sports equipment. In a way, this makes it so that the life of your shoes comes full circle. You can boost this ecological impact by also choosing shoes that have been manufactured using recycled or naturally biodegradable materials.
- Seek out fitness facilities that share your ecological viewpoint and goals. Look for a gym that emphasizes reduced power usage, or better yet, utilizes the energy harnessed from the use of fitness equipment to supply some of the power needed to keep their business running. Also ask about what type of cleaning supplies they use and if they offer options for reducing, reusing and recycling in their facility.
Make The Little Things Count
- State-of-the-art fitness centers and new workout clothes can be a stress to both your wallet and the environment. While I wouldn’t tell you to avoid these things entirely if they bring you pleasure and contribute to your overall health, it is worth mentioning that some of the best workouts come from activities that you do every day and require no extra equipment or membership costs. Think about the physical activity that is involved in planting a garden, mowing your lawn with a push mower, going on a bike ride with your kids, playing a neighborhood game of volleyball, or just going for an evening walk through your neighborhood. Rather than investing money and other ecological resources into the newest fitness craze, try tapping into the energizing power of living a healthy life that doesn’t involve shying away from every day fitness activities.
- You have heard that if you want to be healthier that you should park far away from the entrance or always take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever there is an option. The same truth applies when keeping the Earth healthy as well. The more we do with our own bodies, the better the health of the planet. Use your power to walk or ride your bike to the store next time instead of hopping in the car. Using the stairs saves on electricity needed to operate an elevator.
- Working out doesn’t require an arsenal of prepacked snacks and bottled energy drinks. In fact, the best fuel for a workout is a healthy natural diet and plenty of pure, clean water. Skip the snack bar at the gym and bring your own snacks such as cut vegetables, nuts, apples with nut butter, a homemade yogurt parfait, or your favorite homemade energy bars that skip the unnecessary ingredients and unnecessary packaging.
- Choose all natural health and beauty care products. One of the most relaxing ways of treating your body post workout is a nice warm soak, but you can skip all the fancy bath powder, salts and oils. All you need is some Epsom salts and your favorite essential oils. Add about a half a cup of Epsom salt to your bath, followed by five to ten drops of essential oil and you have the perfect after workout treat. If your skin is dry, you can add a little almond or rice bran oil for moisturization. Use natural corn starch instead of talc or other chemically heavy products to absorb excess moisture and don’t forget a high quality, natural sunscreen when you plan on being outdoors. This is also a great time to reevaluate your skin care routine. Post workout skin needs extra gentle care. Look for cleansers, toners and moisturizers that are formulated with all natural, gentle ingredients that are designed to work with the natural environment of your skin, rather than with harsh chemicals that can strip skin of essential moisture, especially post workout.
I feel like it is safe to admit that no matter how much we do to protect our health and the environment that we can always be doing a little better. Even the smallest of changes can add up, especially when we are all working together with a common goal in mind. The actions that you can take to make your workouts a little bit greener are simple, and honestly require very little effort. All it takes is a little awareness about the environment and how we live and interact with it. Nature offers us an opportunity to experience harmony. It is up to us to tap into that, respect nature and enjoy life as it was meant to be lived; naturally and fully.