If you’ve been thinking of adopting a sustainable fitness routine, there’s no time like the present to start.
As gyms and group workout facilities remain closed or strictly limited, people are in need of alternative ways to stay fit. Exercising at home or outdoors is not only better for the planet, but it’s less expensive—and perhaps even more convenient—than going to a gym.
Here are some tips on how to go green with your exercise routine:
It’s entirely possible to maintain a fitness program despite a lack of facilities and even adjustments to one’s income. There are many free outdoor activities that don’t require expensive equipment or gear to get started.
Running and walking are excellent ways to stay in shape, and both can be done from just about anywhere, whether you live in a bustling city or a rural area. All you need is a good pair of sneakers.
“Running burns more calories in less time than almost any other continuous exercise, due to the impact-based nature of the activity,” says fitness expert and author Brent Bishop. Walking offers many of the same health benefits as running but is less stressful on your knees and joints. “A regular walking program helps lower your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes,” explains Bishop.
Consider walking to and from work each day. Or if that’s not possible, check out some local hiking trails. You’ll not only get your steps in for the day but perhaps take in some beautiful scenery as well.
Other Outdoor Exercises
Speaking of steps, long staircases offer a great opportunity for a rigorous workout. Jogging or briskly walking on staircases will deliver more cardiovascular benefits in a shorter amount of time than jogging or walking alone. You’re likely to find stairs at nearby sports stadiums or local community colleges. And again, there’s no equipment needed to begin.
Biking, swimming and jumping rope are other outdoor pursuits that burn calories but require little to no financial investment. If you don’t own your own bike, it might be possible to rent one. If you have access to an indoor pool, swimming can be a year-round activity. And it’s a refreshing alternative to jogging in the warmer summer months.
Even with gyms and fitness studios closed, many outdoor recreation areas remain open. Most parks and community centers offer green spaces or sports fields where you can play team sports or just kick around a soccer ball.
Sit-ups, push-ups, planks, squats and the like are all convenient exercises because, in most cases, they’re free and take place anywhere. They don’t require any equipment – all you need is a little bit of space.
Weight-bearing workouts can be done outdoors as well as at home, so the weather need not dictate whether you get your daily dose of exercise. Working out at home not only saves money on a gym membership, but typically uses less electricity than going to the gym.
If you need some inspiration to get started, online platforms like YouTube, Instagram and Facebook Live are brimming with free fitness content. For example, Fitness Blender’s YouTube channel has videos ranging from beginner to advanced and varying in length from five minutes to hour-long routines. You can also check out exercise programs on DVD from your local public library.
Yoga engages both the body and the mind, providing physical as well as mental health benefits. A regular practice can increase strength, promote flexibility, lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety and sharpen mental focus. Yoga also promotes body awareness and mindfulness, tools that can extend beyond the mat to a person’s daily life.
Yoga can be practiced at home, provided you have enough space, as well as outdoors. Although some yogis use blocks, bands and other accessories, these are not necessary for a simple daily practice. A mat is all that’s required.
An amalgamation of the Swedish word plocka—meaning “to pick”—and jogging, plogging is an eco-friendly exercise trend that combines jogging and picking up trash. It’s perhaps the ultimate sustainable fitness activity.
Environmentalist Erik Ahlström is one of the visionaries behind the plogging movement. After moving to Stockholm, he noticed a lot of trash lying around and decided to do something about it. Ahlström began organizing jogging groups where members carried bags and wore gloves in order to collect rubbish along their route.
According to BBC, plogging not only offers the cardiovascular benefits, but ploggers also get the muscle toning advantages of squats as they bend to pick up trash.
Plogging has spread across Europe and also reached the U.S. Check out Plogging U.S.A. Facebook page where you may be able to find a local group.
Despite a wide range of at-home and outdoor workouts available to health-conscious consumers, sometimes the gym is unavoidable. If you intend to keep your gym membership, or start one in the future, opt for activities that don’t require electricity like running on a track. If you must use a treadmill, make sure it’s on an incline so it uses less electricity. You might also consider joining an eco-friendly gym.