Looking after your body is as important as looking after the planet that supports it, but combining the two requires a bit of savvy. It means knowing how to lower cholesterol or blood pressure levels, maintain a healthy weight, and take care of your heart – all while limiting the impact your healthy diet and fitness regime has on the planet.
By now, a lot of us are aware of ways to reduce the impact of our eating habits. But – believe it or not – some modern exercise habits are actually a little less than eco-friendly. Here’s the low-down.
How on Earth can exercise damage the environment?
Like most aspects of modern life, fitness is a commodity, and the industries that offer us exercise opportunities have their own effect on the environment. From supporting ethical gyms to purchasing your own equipment – we can all extend ethical consumer habits to our fitness lives.
Keep yourself, and the planet, hydrated
For those of us highly focused on a specific fitness goal, like how to lower cholesterol, our weight, or increase muscle, it’s easy to forget that along the way we’re consuming a lot of water. Good hydration is especially important during exercise, as we need to replace the water lost through sweating, so most of us get through a lot over the course of a workout.
Buying bottled water unnecessarily is a key way we squander resources while keeping fit. Each bottle has an environmental impact, from the plastic used, factory production, water processing, and transportation. Try investing in a good quality reusable water bottle instead, and take it with you when you work out. Many gyms and parks have water fountains where you can get a refill, and few coffee shops will refuse a good natured request for some tap water if you run out mid-run.
The UK uses around 3 billion liters of bottled water every year, and seven litres of water are needed to manufacture one single litre plastic bottle, not counting the water in it! Tap water is up to 500 times cheaper to produce, and will quench your thirst just as well.
Hold your providers to account
Gyms, like any retail establishment, can be asked by their customers to make greener business choices. For example, 24-hour gym could invest in energy efficient lighting. Water use in gyms is also high, but can be reduced by good design. Start a conversation with your gym’s management – you never know where it could take you.
Many establishments are happy to get constructive feedback from their customers, and answer any questions you may have about their policies. There are many environmentally friendly products available for use in such spaces, from solar-charged lighting, to low-wastage showers, to simple skylights.
When it comes to home gym equipment, think sustainability. Electricity-free equipment costs less to buy, less to run, and can be far more versatile around your home – you may be surprised just what you can achieve with a simple pullup bar!
Combine workouts with working outside
Workouts don’t just have to be good for you. You can get outdoors and active in ways that actively improve the outdoors! Many conservation programmes involve some pretty heavy work – from clearing invasive plant species, to walking miles each day to log scientific data. Ask your local natural history society and council for information on projects near you.
Regular physical activity helps your heart and lungs. If you’ve wondered how to lower cholesterol and take care of all those other key health indicators, it’s important to remember that exercise is vital alongside a balanced diet. So, even if you don’t have much time to dedicate purely to exercise, multitask! Getting your heart pumping while gardening for wildlife is just as worthwhile as going for a run, and the butterflies will thank you too.