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10 Ways to Green Your Exercise Routine

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Aren't you working out to be healthy?

Greening up isn't a trend, like platform shoes and banged haircuts. You're living green. You reuse, you recycle, you even reduce. You care. You exercise because it makes you feel good, or maybe it's because it's all part of your plan to stay healthy and feel good. You should pat yourself on the back. But, if you look closely, you'll actually realize that there are many aspects of your routine that are insanely ironic and highly hypocritical (mine too, by the way).

Get as fit as you can while taking care of the planet and weather the recession by enjoying the summer outdoors (no, that doesn't mean quitting working out entirely). Focusing on a few of the following steps means we can walk down a new greener path together. As always, it's about being flexible and we will each be able to adapt to certain steps better than others... set your own pace.

1. Get outside. Ever wonder why it's called, working "out"? Burn calories, not kilowatts. Try walking outdoors instead of on a treadmill. Run up and down stairs like Rocky instead of being on stair machine, ride a bike instead of peddling nowhere. Garden, hike, swim, or play frisbee! The list is endless, and it's good to connect with the environment and your community too.

2. If you are inside, demand more and use less. Your health club should in fact support good health. Ask them to clean without chemicals and refrain from selling bottled water at the very least. If we all ask, we can expect change. Take fewer towels and don't use disposables in the change room and bathroom.

3. BYOW. Bring your own water in a safe reusable bottle. Drink and repeat. (On drinking -- coconut water is nature's electrolyte and a great hydrator -- steer clear of those sugary "power" drinks.)

4. Be anti-antiperspirant. Sweating lets the toxins out! Antiperspirants work by blocking, clogging and closing your pores with powerful astringents such as aluminum salts so that they can't release sweat. I would advise you to check products at Cosmetics Database for safety. Join the Just Beautiful Campaign by Environmental Defence and help get personal care products labelled so we can all make informed decisions for ourselves.

5. Workout with a friend. By chatting instead of plugging into something, you are reducing energy usage, you will dispose of fewer batteries and most importantly, you'll catch up on the latest gossip.

6. Buy less. But, when you buy, buy recycled and natural. Those workout gizmos are NOT replacements for proper exercise and diet (but you know that, and that's why you'll find so many of these treasures at garage sales). PVC- and phthalate-free is better for you and for all of us. In terms of weights... how much does that reusable bottle filled with water weigh? Lift. Drink. Refill. Repeat.

7. Generate energy while you expend it. If you have watched Ed Begley Jr. power his toaster oven by peddling his bike and just are not "there" yet, try a hand crank or solar cell phone charger ...you won't believe how much energy you'll capture.

8. Make your own energy bars. Do a simple google search for a recipe that appeals to you. The amount of money and the amount of packaging you will save will make that one sticky bowl well worth it and, you'll be pretty proud of yourself for eating actual food over a packaged "good" too.

9. Now this is fitting -- buy eco clothing. Did you know that 10 per cent of all pesticide use worldwide is for cotton crops? Choose responsible clothing -- hemp is super-breathable and the fibers are naturally anti-bacterial. And, please don't immediately trust a tag that says "green" or "eco." Look at the tag the way you would responsibly read a nutritional label. Personally, I would still rather buy something that is 100 per cent cotton than be "greenwashed" into buying something "eco" that is 70 per cent cotton and 30 per cent organic cotton -- yes, a little organic is better than none, but I detest companies that throw claims around and charge a premium for a product that isn't accurately superior.

10. Pick up speed with environmentally-friendly shoes. It's no easy feat, but there are plenty of options. Strides are being made by many companies who are using recycled and more responsible materials. Remember to ask for "responsible" footwear and take all of this into consideration when choosing. Where there is demand, there will be supply.

Of course, it's certainly smarter and better for you to exercise than to sit on your couch pondering the eco-impact of going for a run. I can't think of much that we do daily, that doesn't have some negative environmental effect. Do the best you can given the circumstance, and think more about what you are doing daily, that should always inspire you to make positive changes.

In terms of fitness -- work "out" as much as you can, stay healthy, eat well and enjoy knowing you're making a difference with every green step you take. And, make sure your changes make you relax and say "om."

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