In today’s environmentally friendly society, many people are looking for simple ways to reduce their energy consumption, lower their carbon footprints, and make more sustainable choices regarding the things we do and use daily.

This eco-friendly mindset can also translate into your workout.

While you might not think of exercise as having an enormous impact on our environment, there are still many ways your fitness routine can affect the world around us. Thankfully, there are plenty of eco-friendly switches you can make to green-up your workouts.

1. Ditch the gym

Let’s face it, running on a treadmill, going nowhere, is no replacement for running outdoors in the real world. Not only does running, jogging, or even walking outdoors avoid the use of energy-intensive equipment, but being outdoors is also vital for our mental and physical health. Ditching the gym and getting outdoors is a great way to improve your fitness plus reduce your exercise-related energy consumption.

If you’re not comfortable exercising outdoors, don’t have a backyard, or the weather isn’t ideal for a long walk, working out in your living room is still better than heading to the gym. You could try following a fitness DVD or workout to a YouTube tutorial in your living room.

Working out at home rather than at the gym means less energy consumption as you don’t need to be running such a massive volume of exercise equipment… Not to mention the energy it takes to power all the televisions, lights, heating, and other aspects of a gym!  

You also get to be in control of your own workout at home… No queues for specialist equipment and no unpleasant odors caused by inconsiderate people who forget to wipe down after use – yuck!

2. Use your commute

Your commute is the perfect opportunity to get in some fitness while completing a journey you would need to take anyway. So, ditch the car and take up a more green and environmentally friendly way to travel… Plus, you get to increase your daily exercise and step count without even trying!

If you work too far away to feasibly leave the car at home, try walking, jogging, or biking to the grocery store or while running other errands instead (or as well).

3. Team sports

Team sports like basketball are great for cultivating a sense of community and are an enjoyable way to exercise without feeling stuck on the treadmill. Not only are sports like basketball an environmentally friendly way to work out, but they also require no energy-intensive equipment, and the equipment you do need can be shared.

Make your next basketball pickup game even greener by carpooling, or ditch the car and use the commute to get in some warm-up cardio by jogging together.

4. Reusable water bottles

Over 50 billion plastic water bottles are used yearly in the United States, and most of these end up in landfills! Help reduce this excessive and wasteful habit by taking a reusable water bottle with you when you exercise.

Look for reusable water bottles made from sustainable and healthy materials such as stainless steel or BPA-free plastic, and always keep it close.

5. Eco-friendly workout equipment

Just like your water bottle can be a potential source of pollution, even non-electrical workout equipment can damage the environment.

Look for workout equipment such as green yoga mats or eco-friendly resistance bands (like these ones: made from natural rubber, latex, or cotton to reduce the environmental impact of your products.

6. Sustainable workout gear

Similarly, look for green workout clothing when you next upgrade your gym wardrobe. Go for clothing made from recycled materials, bamboo, organic cotton, or hemp, and check the manufacturer information to ensure the materials have been sustainably sourced. 

Once your workout clothing has lived its life, it’s also a good idea to check out places you can recycle them.

Organizations such as Soles4Souls, Nike Reuse-a-Shoe, Shoes4Africa, and many others will take donations of lightly-used footwear to redistribute to those in need. Well-worn shoes can be ground up to be recycled into playgrounds or even a brand-new pair of shoes!

7. Cardio machine = DIY generator

If you’re really serious about making your workout as eco-friendly as possible, you might want to consider picking up a home cardio machine (think rowing machines or stationary bikes) and hook them up to a generator or battery. As you exercise, the energy you exert is transformed into green energy to power up your iPod, computer, toaster, or TV!

Small changes

Creating a more environmentally friendly workout routine doesn’t need to involve completely rethinking the way you exercise. It’s more about taking small steps and making simple changes to bring your workout away from the high-powered indoor gym locations and back into the real world (or your living room).

Making sustainable choices about what equipment you use, how you dress, and how you dispose of your used gear can all allow you to experience a cleaner, more eco-friendly workout that won’t just make you feel physically amazing but can actively help clean up our planet too!