Health & Wellness

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How to make your exercise routine more eco-friendly

Adopting a more eco-friendly lifestyle can promote personal health and benefit the planet at the same time. Many people already living environmentally conscious lifestyles may think they have exhausted the ways in which they can reduce their carbon footprints, but it never hurts to explore new opportunities to help the planet.

Exercise is one area of everyday life that men and women may overlook when seeking ways to reduce their carbon footprints. Physically active men and women can take several easy steps to make their workout routines more eco-friendly.

• Drink from reusable bottles. Men and women must stay hydrated during their workouts, but how they go about that can have a significant impact on the environment. According to ValleyWater.org, bottles used to package water take more than 1,000 years to biodegrade. When incinerated, such bottles produce toxic fumes that contribute to air pollution. Before your next workout, purchase a reusable water bottle you can take with you to the gym or along with you when exercising outdoors. Reusable bottles even pay for themselves over time, saving you the cost of buying a new water bottle before each workout.

• Recycle your old athletic shoes. Nike's "Reuse-a-Shoe" program grinds down old athletic shoes and turns them into new places to play, whether it's a track, basketball court or playground for youngsters. The program has thus far turned 28 million pairs of old shoes into roughly 632 million square feet of play surfaces. That's 56 million sneakers that otherwise would have found their way into landfills, where they would have taken years to biodegrade.

• Upgrade your home gym equipment. If you exercise at home, look into new exercise equipment that generates its own electricity. Companies like SportsArt (www.gosportsart.com) produce exercise equipment, including cycles and elliptical machines, that harness the power of human energy. When plugged into a power outlet, the human energy generated by using the products converts into utility-grade electricity. An added bonus of using such equipment is the energy savings on monthly utility bills. If you exercise at a commercial gym, encourage the gym's owners to explore eco-friendly equipment.

• Bring your own towel to the gym. Many people like to use towels during their workouts to wipe off excess perspiration. If you are prone to sweating, bring your own towel along rather than making use of the towels provided by your gym. This allows you to reuse the towel for a handful of workouts before you need to wash it. When you use a towel provided by the gym, you no doubt place it in the hamper before leaving the building. That towel is then washed whether it needs to be or not, potentially leading to unnecessary energy consumption.

Workout routines can be altered to benefit the environment, and many of these alterations are simple.