Eco-Friendly Workouts: How to ‘Green’ Your Fitness!

Written by: Holly Smith, M.D.,

B.S. - Dietetics, NASM-PES Certified Trainer

Writer, The Fit Mother Project

Written by: Holly Smith, M.D.,

B.S. - Dietetics, NASM-PES Certified Trainer

Writer, The Fit Mother Project

eco-friendly workouts

With eco-friendly workouts, you can get in shape, do your part for the environment, and set a good example for your kids!

You may not realize that you can improve the planet while also getting into great shape at the same time.

But, yes, there are ways to even make exercise eco-friendly!

Reducing your carbon footprint is possible by making small changes in how you approach your workouts.

You can think of eco-friendly workouts as “green exercise”!

From small tweaks in the types of workouts you do to choosing the right gear and equipment, here's how to make eco-friendly workouts part of your everyday routine.

Required Reading: The Definitive Guide to Workouts for Women

How to Decrease Your Energy Consumption

Burning calories doesn’t mean you have to burn through electricity.

Certain cardio machines, especially treadmills, require a lot of energy to power.

You can reduce your carbon footprint by skipping the machines that consume a huge amount of watts.

Skip the Cardio Machines

Instead of running on a treadmill, get outside and do your runs and walks.

This can save tons of energy, especially during longer workouts.

Treadmills use a lot of electricity, so taking your workouts outdoors will help reduce your carbon footprint and save you money on your monthly power bill.

Plus, outdoor cardio is more engaging than staring at a screen, which means people tend to push themselves harder in their workouts.

Your outdoor eco-friendly workouts don’t need to just be confined to running or bike rides.

Pretty much any exercise can be done outdoors, including circuit workouts, interval training, or even horseback riding!

Not only is this better for the environment, but studies have also found that green exercise is better for overall mental health.

In one study active people that performed green exercise had a significant improvement in self-esteem and mood.

Learn about all of the research-proven 30-minute walk benefits!

Commute to Work

Along the same lines of skipping energy-guzzling gym equipment, commuting to work will save you from using your gas-guzzling automobile.

If your job is close enough, you can bike, ride a scooter, or walk.

This also goes for traveling to stores, a friend’s house, or even the gym.

Not only is this a way to do your part for the environment, but commuting has also been found to improve overall fitness and health markers.

In one 2020 research review, active commuting was found to significantly improve exercise capacity, maximal power, blood pressure, cholesterol, high‐density lipoprotein, and waist circumference.

This is a great way to fit in a workout on days that you are too busy for formal exercise.

When you combine that with cutting back on air pollution, this is a great way to incorporate green exercise into your day.

Workout From Home

Home workouts have become all the rage this past year. With most gyms being shuttered due to COVID, moms have turned to their home gyms to stay in shape.

Luckily, even with minimal equipment, you can do anything from resistance training to yoga to high-intensity intervals right from your own living room.

Not only are these excellent ways to keep your body and mind healthy, but they are also convenient, inexpensive, and easy on the environment.

You can carve out a specific time for eco-friendly workouts with your own at-home exercise programs that are best for you without worrying about gym hours.

Plus, you can easily plan these workouts around your kids' schedules.

At-home exercise can also include the whole family.

You can play in the backyard with your children, rake leaves, mow the lawn, or even plant a garden.

This decreases gas consumption on your drive to the gym and saves you money on fuel and a gym membership.

This video will help you create your own home workout plan for weight loss and toning!

Swim Outdoors

Swimming is one of the best cardio and strength workouts around.

As the weather heats up, instead of hitting a pool filled with tons of chemicals, look for a safe open water swimming spot.

Another option if you prefer a pool is to find a saltwater swimming pool.

These don't rely as much on harsh chemicals needed in chlorine pools.

This means less skin and airway irritation, and a greener way to swim.

You can even do swimming workouts without any water at all!

Choosing Eco-Friendly Gear

The clothing you choose for your eco-friendly workouts can also have an impact on the environment.

The fashion industry is responsible for 92 million tons of waste produced per year and 79 trillion liters of water consumed.

So choosing to shop sustainably is one of the most impactful decisions you can make as a consumer.

One way to do this is through secondhand shopping.

This is more sustainable because it helps move fashion from a linear economy where clothes are eventually thrown away, you can reuse clothing and make it last longer.

Plus, shopping second-hand can save you a lot of money!

You can also look for specific fabrics or brands that use more environmentally favorable practices.

While this may take a little more research, it can go a long way in reducing the use of non-renewable resources that goes into making a lot of our clothing.

Products like organic cotton, organic linen, and organic hemp use less energy and water in their production.

Plus they are typically grown with minimal pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, and processed with fewer chemicals.

Bring Your Own Reusable Water Bottle

It’s easy to go through a few water bottles during a tough sweat session.

Instead of buying single water bottles that you throw out after, bring your own reusable bottle to fill up at your next workout.

When choosing your bottle, look for plastics marked BPA-free.

BPA, or bisphenol A, is a chemical that has been found to alter hormonal levels and can even increase the risk of obesity.

BPA can leach into the water from some hard plastic bottles, so look for stainless steel or aluminum bottles.

Find out the easiest way to drink more water every day!

Skip the Processed Energy Snacks

We all know processed foods aren’t good for our bodies.

It turns out, they aren’t too great for the environment either!

Any foods that are highly processed require more non-renewable resources to make.

Sugary energy drinks, gels, bars, sports candies … you don't need them for your workout, and often they aren't the healthiest choices.

Instead of choosing processed snacks and meals, fuel your day with organic foods.

Organic farming methods for both crops and animals have a much lower impact on the environment than conventional methods.

Organic-certified farms must use natural methods for soil fertilization, weed prevention, and pest control.

Antibiotics and growth hormones cannot be used to raise food animals, and there are standards of care that prevent cruelty to livestock.

Genetically modified and irradiated foods cannot be labeled organic.

Data also shows dietary choices rich in vegetables have a lower carbon footprint than meat-rich ones.

This doesn't mean you need to completely cut these foods out of your diet.

But given that high-fat meat and dairy products also have health consequences, you can consider replacing some higher fat red meats with smart plant-based choices to help clean up both your eating habits and the planet.

These 7 principles of nutrition are always true, no matter what your diet consists of.

Join a Green Gym

With so much emphasis being placed on reducing our carbon footprint, many gyms are changing their traditional practices.

Search in your area to see if your neighborhood gym is going green.

Look for these green practices at a gym or encourage your gym to try them: restricted towel use, recycling bins, reusable water bottles for sale, TVs turned off when not in use, and eco-friendly lighting, cleaning, and locker-room products.

A growing number of green gyms also harness the energy people exert on cardio machines to power equipment.

Volunteer Outdoors

There are a ton of groups out there that are always looking for volunteers to help improve our planet.

For example, many neighborhoods maintain community gardens where food can be distributed to low-income families.

This is a great opportunity to get in some exercise while growing sustainable foods at the same time.

If you are an avid runner or frequent mountain bike trails, you can help give back by serving on committees that help clean and maintain these trails.

You can even volunteer to lead hikes or guide tours on some of these trails.

Run For a Cause

Another way to support a cleaner environment is to become part of a team to raise money for a specific “green” cause.

By entering an event, you will be held accountable for not only raising money for your cause, but also for getting in shape for your race.

It’s a two-for-one deal!

Improve the Planet and Your Health with Eco-Friendly Workouts!

Exercising to improve your own health is great.

It’s even better when you can combine that with improving the health of the planet.

You may not think that one person can make a difference, but by making small changes in your workout routine you really can do your part for the environment.

Eco-friendly workouts can improve your overall fitness and even help you enjoy your workouts more.

For example, outdoor workouts can boost your energy and mood and help you push yourself harder during your exercise sessions.

Other eco-friendly activities, like volunteering with a group of people, are great ways to meet other fitness-minded people and build a network of friends to motivate you in your health journey.

So get started today with eco-friendly workouts and make the world a better place!

Holly Smith, M.D.
B.S. - Dietetics, NASM-PES Certified Trainer

Writer, The Fit Mother Project

Holly is an osteopathic physician, runner, triathlete, and fitness and nutrition enthusiast.

She is board certified in nephrology and internal medicine, has a bachelors degree in dietetics and is a certified personal trainer with NASM-PES certification.

Holly has completed four full ironmans, twelve marathons, countless half ironmans, olympic distance triathlons, half marathons and numerous other road races.

Holly joined the Fit Father Project in May 2019 as a regular writer, contributing articles on health, wellness, exercise, and nutrition.

She has also recently qualified for the 2020 World Championships for Ironman 70.3, in New Zealand!

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If you’re a busy mom who wants to finally lose weight, get healthy, and actually keep the pounds off for good, this is the simple program you’ll love sticking to…

Our Fit Mother 30X Program (FM30X) is the answer you’ve been looking for. Inside FM30X, you’ll receive:

  • The simple & delicious Fit Mother Meal Plan with easy recipes for you and your family.
  • The metabolism-boosting Fit Mother 30X Workout (under 90 min/week) to kickstart your metabolism for fast fat burning.
  • VIP email coaching where we’ll personally walk you through the program.
Learn More About FM30X

*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on eco-friendly workouts.

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