Is Your Fitness Regime Eco-Friendly?
Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on July 29, 2009 by Paulina Nelega, RH
1. The Drive to Your Gym
Driving to your gym’s location attributes the most to killing the environment, specifically global warming. Most cars are gas guzzlers and approximately 20lbs of carbon dioxide is created and released for every gallon of gas that your car burns up. When you consider that most cars actually emit nearly 6 tons of carbon dioxide per year, you can see how cutting back on your gym drive can help the ozone layer.
If you live more than three miles from your gym, consider carpooling with a friend. Not only will this save you on gas money but it will also ensure that you have a workout buddy too! If you live less than three miles, consider walking or riding a bicycle to your gym. This will have the greatest impact on reducing your carbon footprint whilst also adding more calorie burning opportunities to your exercise regime. For example, a woman who weighs approximately 140 lbs and who walks at least 2 miles to her gym and back can burn up to 250 calories each day – this equals out to be nearly 18 lbs per year!
2. The Gym
Gyms can be another silent environmental killer, especially when you consider the new 24 hour gyms that are popping up in almost every neighborhood these days. Those gyms typically have electricity running to them 24 hours a day to power the electronic exercise machines, television sets and lighting. Most gyms also use an excessive amount of water when they wash and dry the free use towels that they provide to their patrons. Bring your own towel to the gym instead. Or you could become a green advocate and speak to the gym’s manager about making a few small changes in the way the gym is run. Suggest things like installing low-flow shower heads to conserve both money and water, or fitting a chlorine filter in the shower. Better yet, shower when you get home.
3. Electronic Exercise Equipment
Although this may be the hardest thing to do, try to avoid using electronic exercising equipment such as elliptical trainers and treadmills, as using a treadmill for half an hour will consume .75 kilowatt hours which is the equivalent to lighting up a Christmas tree for about 6 hours. Instead, take a run outside as not only will you get a change of scenery, but you’ll also be able to breathe in fresh air that is not always abundant inside a sweaty, smelly gym.
4. Your Workout Clothes
Choose your workout clothes wisely as they may not be what the labels say they are! According to the Organic Consumers Association, one-third of a pound of agricultural chemicals is used to create one cotton shirt in America. So read the label carefully and keep in mind that a 100% cotton T-Shirt is really made up of 73% cotton and 27% of chemicals and chemical residue. Even though it may seem better for both your skin and the environment to buy an organic cotton T-Shirt, 720 gallons of water is still used to create just one cotton shirt.
You can do your part by making your own workout clothing or shopping for new workout clothes at eco-friendly companies who recycle their old clothing lines. For example, Patagonia has a program called Common Threads in which they collect old clothes from their customers which are then recycled into new clothing. Creating a new product from recycled materials is far cheaper and healthier for the environment than creating a new product using raw materials.
5. Plastic Water Bottles
One of the most commonly found pieces of equipment in any gym is the plastic disposable water bottle. These are extremely harmful to the environment as 1.5 million barrels of oil is needed to create them. Worse still, is that Americans buy nearly 34.6 billion plastic water bottles each year, of which 80% end up in a landfill. When you consider that during the purification process, two gallons of water are wasted for every one gallon of water that actually ends up inside the water bottle, you can understand why buying and using disposable plastic water bottles is so deadly to our environment.
Your best bet would be to use plastic water bottles that have been certified to be BPA-free, or use a stainless steel water bottle instead. Both of these are chemical free and more healthy to drink from.
Photo Credit: Mimar Sinan
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Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan