Green New Year’s Resolution #1 – Exercise More

It’s one of the most common New Year’s resolutions – after weeks spent eating turkey, baking cookies, and partying with friends and family, we all decide it’s time to buckle down and get back to working out. Usually this means hitting the gym, especially if you live anywhere with a bit of ice and snow. But there’s more to exercising than just hopping on the treadmill. If you do it right, this year you can turn your New Year’s resolution to workout into an exercise in going green.

Most of us know the health benefits of exercise – all that running and jumping strengthens bones and joints, boosts healthy cholesterol, and keeps the heart strong. But exercise provides other benefits as well: people who get regular aerobic exercise sleep better, have more energy, and are less vulnerable to depression. And you don’t have to run a marathon to see these changes. All you need to aim for is just thirty minutes of activity a day.

Whether you’re just getting started or want to change up an old routine, the best way to green your workout is to head outside. Go for a walk, ride a bike, or mow the lawn; not only will your body see the benefits of exercise, but you’ll also be enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. In fact, studies have shown that running outdoors as opposed to on a treadmill can leave you feeling more refreshed. So skip the monotony of the gym and go to the park instead. Even better, look for local running or biking clubs that will help you meet new workout buddies and stay focused. If a harsh winter threatens to keep you indoors, pack up your family for a day of sledding or take up an outdoor activity like cross-country skiing. You can also mix up your workout by starting in the gym and then finishing your run outside. But no matter where you live, don’t let winter be an excuse to stay inside.

You can also be eco-friendly by turning aspects of your regular routine into a workout. Skip the elevator in favor of stairs and walk or bike to work instead of taking a car (you’ll be getting exercise and reducing toxic air pollution). If you work at a desk, be sure to get up and move around regularly: it’ll help keep you focused and prevent the cramps and soreness caused by hard office chairs and awkwardly positioned keyboards. If you don’t have time to exercise everyday, these small changes can make a big difference.

Don’t forget to green your workout gear, too. Purchase a reusable, BPA-free water bottle and look for workout clothes made from organic, free trade fabrics. You can also find items like secondhand bikes, mats, and weights in thrift stores or online. If you join a gym, pick one close to your house to cut down on driving and limit the amount of time you spend on electricity-sapping equipment like treadmills.

Finally, remember that the most important thing about starting a workout routine is to pick an activity you enjoy. Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore, and whether it’s long distance running, roller derby, or just a walk through the park, you’re more likely to stay fit and healthy when you’re having fun.

Goals for 2012

• Get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day.

• Join a local biking, running, or hiking club. You’ll learn new routes and techniques while making friends who can help keep you active.

• Get outdoors! Take a hike, do yoga in the park, or just go for a run in your neighborhood.

• Green your workout gear. Get a BPA-free water bottle, an eco-friendly yoga mat, and workout clothes made from organic cotton.

                       

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