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Want to marry your love of fitness with your desire to help the environment this spring? It’s easy! There are tons of ways to turn your hard exercise into a way to help clean, beautify, and protect the earth. Here are eight great ideas for you to get started!
#1. Go Plogging
Have you heard of the latest eco-fitness trend, plogging? Originally from Sweden, plogging is quickly becoming a fitness craze in the U.S. and it involves one simple action – picking up trash while you run. The name ‘plogging’ is derived from the Swedish phrase for “pick up”, “plocka upp”, and the word “jogging.” Next time you go for a run, take a trash bag and gloves with you and pick up litter you spot along your path.
#2. Run a Charity Race
Spring is the time for nonprofits and other organizations to coordinate community athletic events that benefit good causes. Check with your local running groups to see if there are upcoming fun runs, color runs, 5ks, half-marathons, marathons or ultras that you can sign up to participate in where registration proceeds go to benefit the Earth.
#3. Try Gardening
Want to work on your flexibility and grip strength? Give gardening a go this spring! Pulling weeds, tilling soil, digging holes . . . there is plenty of hard work that goes into cultivating a successful spring and summer garden. When you grow your own food too, you have more access to fresh fruits and vegetables and use less gas skipping trips to the grocery store. Don’t have your own space for a garden? Find out if there is a community garden near you where you can purchase a plot to plant.
#4. Take a Hike
Take your workout inside a stuffy gym outside instead into the fresh, sunny air by going for a hike. Hiking isn’t just a great low-impact cross-training activity for runners, swimmers, and cyclists, but it also provides significant health benefits in its own right. A 2018 study showed that spending time outside and higher levels of greenspace exposure lowered risk for type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and premature death.
#5. Shop Second-hand
Zero in on the “re-use” portion of the three R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle) and opt to buy second-hand sporting equipment, running gear, and athletic wear instead of brand new pieces. Look at common re-stores like Goodwill, Salvation Army, or Habitat for Humanity Re-stores; or do a little research and see if there are any sports/outdoors-specific consignment stores in your community.
#6. Support Sustainable Brands
Do you know where your running clothes come from or who made them? You can do your part to fight poor industry practices like child labor and environmental contamination by doing a little research on the brands from whom you buy gear. Nowadays, you can find plenty of companies doing the right thing for the world and even manufacturing fitness clothes out of recycled materials.
#7. Eat More Plant-based Meals
Did you know that the production of meat has a huge impact on the environment? Recent data shows that beef production specifically leads to huge emissions of greenhouse gases. For example, on average, the process required to produce just 100 grams of beef results in 50 kilograms of global climate-warming emissions. A plant-based diet rich with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds can complement your fitness routine offering you more nutrients with fewer calories than some meats and processed foods.
#8. Volunteer on Earth Day
Find out what volunteer opportunities are available near you for Earth Week in April. Whether you are helping clear a trail, cleaning up a local park, or picking up trash on the river, chances are you will be breaking a sweat and getting some exercise too. Look at VolunteerMatch.org or CreatetheGood.org to find eco-friendly volunteer opportunities near where you live.
Quick Outdoor Exercise Reminders
Getting outside is super good for your body and mind but can also increase your sun and hot weather exposure. Keep these important outdoor fitness tips in mind:
Be prepared – if you accidentally injure yourself in the gym, chances are someone will be on hand to quickly assist you. Hurt yourself on your own outdoors, however, and you could be in trouble. Always be prepared, especially when hiking or trail running, with first aid items at home that can help treat injuries like a sprain, i.e. a flexible ice pack, elastic bandages, disinfectant spray, etc.
Stay hydrated – it’s a good rule of thumb to pretty much carry a reusable water bottle with you anytime you plan on spending more than an hour or so outside.
Wear sun protection – in addition to sunblock with a high SPF, don’t forget to wear a hat, sunglasses, and long-sleeved clothing to protect your scalp, eyes, and skin from excessive sun exposure that can contribute to skin cancer.