Saturday, December 10, 2011

Furry Treadmills, Virtual Trainers, and other Green Fitness Tips

Green fitness is a way to improve your health while minimizing your environmental impact. These tips combine green principles with frugality: saving money, getting strong, and reducing waste - all at the same time.

1. Think of your dog as a treadmill with fur.

This is definitely my favorite form of green activity, especially during the winter when my “grandpuppy” Rok stays with me. How could anyone resist that adorable snowy face! We walk 2-3 hours every day in every kind of Montana winter weather. I keep a wide selection of warm outwear and boots near the door – ready for his wagging tail and “please-take-me-out” eyes. Going out for a dog walk is definitely the highlight of his day – and mine! It’s even better when we each have a friend with us to walk-and-talk.

Many dogs can use an activity upgrade as much as their owners! Getting serious about dog walks will be good for you and good for your pet. If you are both out of the shape you would like to become, start slowly and take it easy. A couple of shorter, vigorous walks (20-30 minutes) may be more effective and easier to fit into your day. No dog at home? No problem! Walk a friend’s furry little treadmill – or contact your local animal shelter or pet rescue group about walking their dogs.

2. Become a regular library patron.

No, reading is not a fitness activity (unless you read while pedaling a stationary bike). However, libraries are an incredible resource for information that gets used over and over again (a great way to reduce waste). Check out your local library for fitness information – DVDs, CDs, tapes, books, and magazines – which are all free (a great way to save money). To turn any library visit into a serious strength builder, walk or bike to the library with your books and other items in a backpack.

3. Turn your home into a thrifty gym.

It’s no fitness myth: You can get strong at home without fancy equipment or expensive club memberships. All it takes is a minimal investment (hand weights, a mat, and maybe a stability ball – remember to check garage sales) and some items around the house, such as chairs and a couple of stairs. For simple instructions, check out a book from your local library or use a no-charge, online virtual fitness trainer, like the one at Strong Women. Minimal cost, maximum strength!

4. Get good with a resistance band.

Resistance bands are probably the most versatile, flexible, and portable fitness equipment on earth. They take up minimal storage place and use no electricity (making them more environmentally-friendly than exercise machines). Best of all, they are cheap: less than $10 for one band or under $20 for a set with several sizes. Most bands come with simple instructions – and you can find dozens of videos for strengthening every part of your body online.

You may want to consider other possibilities that are not quite as cheap or as green, such as buying used equipment. Most in-home fitness stuff (treadmills, stationary bikes, elliptical trainers, gym sets, etc.) is never used again after the first six months, so it ends up in garage sales, online classified sites, and second-hand sports stores. Look for good quality items (read consumer reviews first) and test them carefully to make certain they are still in working order.


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