Environmentally friendly workouts
Photo: © 2009 Jupiterimages
What's more convenient, private or difficult to avoid than your own living room? Pop in an exercise video, check your cable for free workouts on demand or download a routine from a fitness website, and you're ready to get started without leaving your house. We know what you're thinking: You don't have the equipment.

But look around your house, and we're betting you'll find a few things to get you started with a simple routine: canned goods to use in place of weights, a few towels to lay down instead of a mat, a small stool or a stack of books to use as a step, a chair to use for triceps exercises. Find an old jump rope for some basic—but surprisingly challenging—cardio, and you can avoid the gym entirely.

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More intense cardio—like running, biking or jumping rope—works better with a little more space, but why waste the energy required to run a treadmill or stationery bike when the whole world is waiting for you? Lacing up a pair of running shoes and going for a jog is the simplest do-anywhere workout; all you need are the shoes.

If you're not a runner, you still have options. Hit your local hiking trails, take your two-wheeler out for a spin or just add a daily walk to your lunch hour.
Working out with other people is one of the most effective ways to stick with your plan. Keeping each other accountable helps you both get fit faster. Finding a jogging partner or a tennis opponent makes it easier to schedule your workouts—and harder to skip them.

Even better, sign up for a group race or join a larger team to play soccer, softball, volleyball or any other sport you love. As a bonus, the team will likely have a lot of the equipment already, so you can skip buying your own or share.
If you're going to make working out a regular part of your life, you might need some gear—even go-anywhere workouts like yoga are easier with a mat, and a biking routine is impossible without a bike.

But you don't have to buy all new products. Check the Web or your local sporting goods store (or your closet) for deals on used bikes, weights and other equipment. Eco-friendly yoga mats, which are made of non-PVC materials, are easy to find. And you might be surprised at how good your workout can be two water-filled jugs, a dining room chair and an old crate.
Serious athletes wear all those fancy fabrics for a reason: They help sweat evaporate before it sets on your skin, they keep you cool and the shoes are cushioned according to your sport.

But there are eco-alternatives too—sneakers made with recycled rubber soles (just be sure to recycle them when you're done), tops and pants that combine soy and organic cotton blends and coconut shells transformed into breathable fabrics. Look for companies with sustainable business practices like Patagonia, REI and Nau.
If you've decided that joining the gym is the best way to go (at least for the winter) you can still encourage your local health club to make some green changes: restrict the use of towels, invest in energy-efficient machines, offer recycling bins for water bottles (or, even better, stop selling them altogether), set up the televisions to shut off when the machines aren't in use.

Some gyms are even harnessing human power to supply energy and reduce bills. Every little bit helps. Then talk to your workout partner about switching indoor workouts for weekend hikes or bike rides. You'll be able to switch up your routine and get a better workout while making everyone a little greener.

More great ways to show how much you care about our planet 


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