You re-use canvas bags at the market, drive a fuel-efficient car — maybe even take public transportation or walk your errands — and buy organic in an effort to be kind to the planet. If you’re looking for ways to extend this environmental stewardship to your workout, here are six tips to green your workout without sacrificing the quality of your sweat session:
1. HEAD OUTSIDE
There is a “fun factor” associated with outdoor fitness activities like golf and tennis. “Outside exercise requires more energy and greater caloric expenditure because our bodies have to adapt to the temperature, the terrain and resistance from wind,” says Ramona Braganza, global fitness expert and celebrity trainer.
Research confirms this: One study found that treadmill runners expend less energy than runners who ran outdoors; a second study found similar results for riding a stationary bikes versus bicycling outside.
The natural light — compared to the fluorescent bulbs in a gym — may help boost mood, says Braganza. The sunshine also offers up a healthy dose of vitamin D, which builds bone strength, eases depression and improves immune function.
2. USE A REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE
It takes 17 billion barrels of oil — enough to fuel one million cars and trucks — to manufacture the 51 billion water bottles we purchase each year, according to the nonprofit think tank Pacific Institute. The Container Recycling Institute reports that 86% of plastic water bottles are tossed in the trash, not the recycle bin.
Reusable water bottles a more eco-friendly option. Opt for a stainless steel, glass or BPA-free plastic water bottle and remember to wash it thoroughly between workouts.
3. FUEL UP ON SUSTAINABLE FOOD
Your favorite organic foods can help fuel your workout. And shopping at the farmers market also supports local farmers.
Braganza recommends going to the farmers market to stock up on nuts, greens, apples and other healthy sources of protein, fiber and carbohydrates instead of buying processed protein bars.
4. RECYCLE YOUR SNEAKERS
Your worn out, smelly sneakers are not worthy of the donation pile, but that doesn’t mean you should toss them in the trash. The soles of used sneakers can be recycled into cushioned surfaces for tracks, sport courts and playgrounds.
Look for drop-off boxes at running stores and athletic retailers. You might end up shooting hoops on a court made with your favorite sneakers.
You could go to the gym, hop on a treadmill and watch TV or use the touchscreen to monitor your speed and calorie burn while the a/c blasts, which increases your carbon footprint as well as your heart rate.
Or, you could opt for an analog workout experience, trading machines plugged into the walls for resistance bands and balance balls. You’ll expend physical energy while using fewer resources to power your workout.
6. RECRUIT A FRIEND
Carpooling to the gym, soccer field or hiking trail cuts down on emissions but there is another reason to recruit a friend to be your workout buddy. A 2016 study found that those who had a workout partner exercised more than those who got sweaty solo. The reason, according to researchers, was the added element of emotional support.
“A friend can motivate you and challenge you,” says celebrity fitness expert Mandy Ingber. “It doubles [your] energy, makes it more social and also is a wonderful, healthy way to bond. It causes you to be responsible and show up.”