No, the temperature isn’t just going up at your hot yoga studio. It’s happening on the whole planet, too.
Sometimes, the problems facing our environment today can feel too big for us to combat all on our own. But sustainable swaps and tiny tweaks to our daily habits might make more of a difference than you think.
Why not start with your workout routine?
With these ecofriendly fitness activities, not only can you improve your health, but the health of our environment as well. This sustainability guide will teach you a variety of sustainable exercises and practices, to make your workout routine a bit more green. So strap on your walking shoes for women (or your walking shoes for men) and let’s get started!
#1 Stop Using Plastic Water Bottles
Hydration is an important part of fitness. While you should always have a water bottle with you when you exercise, it doesn’t need to be a plastic bottle . Plastic water bottles are often used only two or three times before they need to be tossed, which isn’t a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and stay green.
Each time you use a plastic water bottle, dispose of it, then move on to the next plastic bottle, it puts added pressure on the global plastic crisis. To prevent more plastic from reaching our oceans, try using a reusable water bottle that you can fill up while at the gym.
Reusable water bottles, like ones made of sustainable material like stainless-steel, can help keep your water cold while cutting back your demand for single-use alternatives.1
#2 Workout With Gear You Can Find at Home
Rather than heading to a gym with high demands on electricity and monthly fees, you can find innovative ways to get your fitness fix at home. By working out where you are, you cut back on the emissions produced from traveling back and forth and the electricity from the gym’s workout machines.
Wondering how to stay motivated to workout at home? It’s actually quite simple because you can use your body weight to complete certain exercises or you can get creative with the furniture in your living room. To help you explore some fitness ideas, try some of these at-home workout tips:2
- Do tricep dips with a chair – Any sturdy chair in your home can become a workout bench. Stretch your legs in front of the chair and use the palms of your hands to grip the edge, dipping down and up again to target your triceps.
- Use water jugs for free weights – Even if you don’t have a weight set at home, you can find new ways to add weights to your routines. Swap out dumbbells for water jugs the next time you need an extra challenge. Just remember to put them back in the fridge when you’re done so you don’t waste water. Another sustainable option is to find some weights through a second-hand shop.
- Strengthen your grip with a tennis ball – If you can’t commit a lot of time to exercise, you can try some simple exercises to do while you work. Using a tennis ball, or any ball in the house that has some give, try squeezing out a few repetitions throughout the day to improve your grip.
- Use the wall for stretches and squats – Even the walls in your home can provide simple supports to help you stretch. Try performing some wall sits to build up strength in your quadriceps, or use the wall to do a few calf stretches before you head out on a run.
#3 Exercise Outdoors
If the weather is nice, get out and enjoy the sun. Exercising outdoors and in your own backyard is another way of limiting the carbon emissions you’d normally produce on your way to the gym. There’s no better way to go green than to enjoy the green spaces around you.
Plus, if you’re someone who enjoys running or cycling, you’ll be able to stretch your legs on natural trails and avoid using electricity from spin machines and treadmills.3
#4 Plan Out Your Healthy Meals Ahead of Time
With every proper exercise regime comes a nutritional plan to pair with it. This can be one of the easiest ways to prioritize sustainability and align your diet with your health goals. Try planning out your weekly nutrition and determining your meals in advance.
When you calendarize your meals, you can make sure you’re getting the proper vitamins and protein you need with each meal, while also sticking to a clear plan when you head to the grocery store. Your detailed nutritional plan could cut back on unwanted grocery purchases and help you reduce your food waste each week.
Don’t forget to bring along your reusable and recycled material shopping and produce bags!4
#5 Commute by Bike
Whether you’re traveling to the gym or work, biking can help you work up a sweat and leave a positive impact on the environment. Every time you drive to the gym, your car is producing emissions that contribute to the air pollution in the area.
Cycling to your yoga, pilates, or kick-boxing class limits this impact and provides a gentle warmup to start your day or fitness routine. If your gym is close enough, you could even walk or jog as part of your warm-up. Can’t make the car-free commute every day? Changing up your commute even a few times each week could have lasting implications for the emissions you help reduce each year.5
#6 Go Plogging
Plogging was originally started in Sweden as an easy and eco-friendly way to exercise. The premise is simple. Instead of just jogging or walking, you can look for litter and pick it up on the way. Any time you decide to head out on the trail, bring a recycled material trash bag and some gloves with you to pick trash up along the way.
Plogging allows you to maximize your positive contributions to the planet with each workout. The more you do it, the cleaner the trails in your area become. It’s a win-win, giving you a way to exercise but improve your community with each step.6
#7 Donate Workout Clothes
If you’re a person who works out regularly, your exercise equipment will likely see some significant wear and tear. Did you know that there are ways to recycle sneakers instead of tossing them in the trash? Recycling—either through donation, recycling programs, or upcycling repair—can be a great way to give life to your old workout clothes and shoes.
Here are some ways you can give your workout clothes a second life:7
- Send your exercise shoes to recycling programs to turn them into new materials, like playground surface material.
- Donate your old workout clothes to charitable organizations that give them to individuals who might not be able to afford their own.
- Purchase restored or used workout gear like t-shirts and workout accessories.
When it’s time for a new pair, best sure to invest in footwear that’s built to last. Plus, at Vionic, we offer a 30-Day Wear Test so that you can be sure you’re getting the perfect fit.
#8 Take a People-Powered Spin Class
While most exercise equipment at the gym can use up large amounts of electricity. There are some eco-friendly gyms out there that are finding new ways to cut back on their energy usage. If there are green gyms in your area, you could try enlisting in a people-powered spin class, which uses the energy generated from the spin bikes to power the facility.
When you bike at a reasonable pace, you can generate up to 100 watts of power. Now, imagine a class full of eco-friendly cyclists—that’s a lot of power. With these classes, you can directly give back, producing energy that you would otherwise consume when you head to the gym.2
#9 Try Out Some Eco-Friendly Yoga Equipment
Yoga is one of the most eco-friendly activities you can enjoy. Yoga lets you exercise your body and mind either outdoors or from your living room. With yoga, you learn to master poses that hone your balance, muscles, and help you practice mindfulness.
If you’re looking for yoga mats to buy, try purchasing ones that are biodegradable and made from recycled materials. Plus, you could even reduce your need to buy accessories, like yoga blocks, by swapping out for a stack of books instead.3
#10 Buy Eco-Friendly Fitness Products
One of the fastest ways you can start a sustainable exercise is by investing in eco-friendly products to accompany your workouts. Some workout clothes are made from unsustainable materials, which produce a large carbon footprint from the time they’re manufactured to the time we discard them and are broken down in the landfill.
To circumvent these environmental troubles, there are products you can look out for to help you buy more sustainably for your fitness routines:
- Reusable water bottles made from recycled plastics
- Workout clothes made from recycled fabrics
- Deodorant made without harmful chemicals
- Bamboo yoga mats made with a low environmental impact
- Strength blocks made from cork
- Ankle weights made from recycled materials
Vionic: Workout Shoes That Are Build to Last
One of the best ways to contribute to an eco-friendly workout is with fitness finds that simply last. When you decrease your demand for things like workout clothes, plastic bottles, and shoes, you greatly diminish your carbon footprint by reducing the need to manufacture those goods.
With Vionic, you can find men’s and women’s workout shoes that stand the test of time. And with each pair, you’ll get three-zone comfort that delivers the ultimate support for your arches and soles—regardless of the activity you pursue. Step into your long-lasting comfort today with Vionic.
- Bergman, Lucas. “Eco-Friendly Workouts: 5 Ways to Green Up Your Fitness Regime.” Biofriendly Planet. 5 January, 2021,
- Purdie, Jennifer. “11 Eco-Friendly Exercises You Can Do Right Now.” Verywell Fit. Updated 17 November, 2021, https://www.verywellfit.com/11-eco-friendly-exercises-4783521
- Perry, Miller. “8 tips to make your exercise routine more eco-friendly.” Inhabitat. 9 May, 2019, https://inhabitat.com/8-tips-to-make-your-exercise-routine-more-eco-friendly/