Earth Day: Exercise and the Environment

8 Apr

Earth Day Banner

Since I started blogging again, I’ve really wanted to talk about exercise.  In July last year I had reached my highest weight, went up a size in pants and was just feeling all around blah.  Something inside me woke up and I managed to stop eating bags of chips for dinner and replacing that with whole foods as often as possible.  After I dropped a few pounds, my friends joined a gym and I reluctantly agreed.  I’d never done any sort of exercise program before.  The last physical activity I did regularly was marching band.  When we ran the mile in high school I think I topped 20 minutes.  And I can walk a mile in 20 minutes.  I was intimidated and suspicious, but peer pressure is a great motivator so I went.  When I didn’t throw up or pass out my first visit, I started to think I might be able to do this and here I am a few months later (and 20 pounds lighter), with a regular gym and running routine that isn’t motivated by peer pressure at all.

When our Earth Day month started, I thought that there has to be some way I can connect the environment and living healthfully.  Aside from diet, which is intimately connected to the earth and our food system, I think certain kinds of exercise can inspire and support a love of the earth as well.  Not long after I started strength training, I went for a hike.  I was amazed that unlike previous expeditions, I was able to keep a steady pace without getting too out of breath.  That’s when I first realized that the work I was doing indoors was going to improve my enjoyment outdoors.  Bonus number one!

While I do a lot of my strength training indoors, studies show that working out en plein air is a double dose of endorphins.  Not only do you get the benefits of being active, you also get a little cure for your nature deficit disorder.  I’ve been running outdoors twice a week lately (I’ve come to be a treadmill hater) and there is nothing that can pull me out of a morning funk more than turning a corner and seeing the ocean.    According to the same study listed above, working out outdoors also boosts performance and makes the exercise seem easier.  It doesn’t take a lot either.  Even five minutes of working out in a natural environment has an impact on mood, self-esteem and creativity.

Sure there are tons of personal benefits to getting outdoors and being active, but what about benefits for Mother Earth?  Here are some ways that getting in shape can help the planet.

  • Walking, biking or running to work or to run errands instead of driving saves gas.
  • Running outdoors as opposed to on a treadmill saves two pounds of CO2 per 30 minute workout. (source)
  • A growing number of “green gyms” promote environmental responsibility by generating energy and using refurbished equipment.  My favorite quote from this article is, “If we’re enabling people to be good stewards of their own bodies, it seems like the natural progression of that is to also be good stewards of the environment.”
  • If you do work out indoors, choose the elliptical or stationary bike (or better yet, weights) over the treadmill.  They consume far less energy.  (source)
  • If you’re concerned about your health, you should be concerned about the environment.  Many environmental factors affect our bodies.  By being more environmentally responsible, you’ll be improving your health and the health of those around you.



3 Responses to “Earth Day: Exercise and the Environment”

  1. Mara April 8, 2014 at 5:58 pm #

    April-this is fantastic stuff. I really like how you have summed it up in one short article. Perhaps the NY Times or the Atlantic Monthly should be interviewing you. It seems so simple yet humans make it so complex. Thank you.

    • aprilinautumn April 9, 2014 at 12:04 pm #

      Thanks Mara! Not sure the Atlantic Monthly’s going to call anytime soon, but the compliment is appreciated. The simplest things are usually the best in the end.


  1. Earth Day: All In One Place | Without a Map - August 27, 2014

    […] Day: Cheat Neutral April 6, Earth Day: Weekend Images April 7, Earth Day: Recylcing Bias April 8, Earth Day: Exercise and the Environment April 9, Earth Day: Upcycled Bread Clip Picture Frame April 10, Earth Day: Amazon Smile April 11, […]

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