Think Green

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Make your workouts eco-friendly

Adopting a more eco-friendly lifestyle can be good for the planet and its inhabitants. A healthy planet makes for healthier humans, and many men and women who are cognizant of that fact have taken steps to reduce their carbon footprints.

One area where even the most ardent environmentalist may be able to find room to be more eco-friendly is his or her workout routine. Daily exercise regimens provide great opportunities to be eco-friendly, and the following are just a handful of ways for active men and women to make their workouts more beneficial for the environment.

* Embrace the great outdoors. That treadmill in the basement or your local gym might be your best friend when the weather outside is frightful, but once the mercury has risen, why not run your laps or do your hiking in the great outdoors? Running or hiking on local trails will decrease your energy consumption and, so long as you exercise when the sun is out, increase your body's vitamin D intake. That's a considerable benefit, as vitamin D can help to maintain strong bones and fortify your immune system. Vitamin D can also help men and women reduce their risk for various ailments, including rheumatoid arthritis and cancer.

* Buy a reusable water bottle. Perhaps the easiest of all eco-friendly adjustments to your workout routine, using a reusable water bottle instead of a plastic water bottle you discard after each workout is also one of the most overlooked ways to make a workout routine more eco-conscious. A refillable water bottle you use every day is much less wasteful than purchasing a plastic water bottle that will end up in the trash, and eventually in a landfill, once you finish your workout. In addition, refillable bottles are less expensive, as you only need to buy one as opposed to buying a new bottled water each day.

* Encourage your gym to be more eco-friendly. Many fitness facilities love to present themselves as cutting edge, and becoming a more eco-friendly facility is a great way to do just that. While energy-efficient machines are a great way for gym owners to conserve energy and help the planet, there are simpler ways for a gym to become more eco-friendly as well. When speaking with gym owners or employees, discuss their energy usage during off-peak hours. Are all of the lights and televisions still on even when the facility is largely empty? If so, encourage gym owners to institute a policy in which lights and televisions are turned down or off during off-peak hours, which will save the owner money and help the planet. In addition, encourage gym owners to use eco-friendly cleaning supplies instead of chemical-based cleaners that harm the planet. Such suggestions are small but can make a big difference over the long haul.

* Ride a bike or jog to and from the gym. Many people begin their workouts with some light cardiovascular exercise before moving on to strength training and then ultimately finishing up with some more vigorous aerobic exercise. Rather than doing your cardiovascular work at the gym, ride a bike or jog to and from the facility. This can drastically reduce your fuel and energy consumption, and riding a bike or jogging is as effective a cardiovascular workout as running on a treadmill or using an elliptical machine.