By Fiona J. Kirk

It may be hard to imagine that the way you exercise could have an impact on the environment, but it can. In fact, there are several steps you can take to make sure that your workout is as eco-friendly as possible. Here are 7 ways to help green your workout in honor of Earth Day, but perfect for any time of the year.

7 Eco-Friendly Fitness Tips

Use recyclable or reuseable water bottles. In the US, only 27% of plastic bottles are recycled – so do more for the environment (and your local landfill) by purchasing a reusable bottle for your workouts. Check out the snappy models by Sigg, Klean Kanteen or Green Bottle and fill-er up!

Donate your sneakers. When your sneaks are looking tired and lack the tread you need for your workout routine, donate them. Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe recycles athletic shoes into surfaces for tracks, playgrounds, and outdoor basketball and tennis courts. And the not-for-profit Soles4Souls has donated over 13 million pairs of gently used shoes to people in 125 countries.

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Walk or bike to work. If you normally drive or take the bus, train or subway, save money and get some low-impact exercise by walking to work. Or strap on a helmet and enjoy the benefits of fresh air as well as an aerobic workout on your bike. It definitely beats sitting in traffic or on a crowded train! If walking isn’t an option, though, try to at least rely on public transportation or carpool.

Replace your treadmill or stationary bike. The latest in fitness equipment actually generates its own electricity. The visCycle from Resource Fitness converts the energy from your workout into electricity that feeds right back into the power grid. Your utility bill will thank you.

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Buy eco-friendly clothes from eco-friendly stores. Lululemon Athletica is popular for its comfortable and stylish workout wear as well as its commitment to the environment. The company not only makes sure that waste is limited during the design and production stages but also builds its stores using recycled materials. Similarly, REI’s ecoSensitive label identifies products that contain a high percentage of recycled, rapidly renewable and/or organic fibers. The company also takes an active role in supporting service projects and programs aimed at protecting the outdoors.

Buy green fitness products. If you’re into yoga, Gaiam sells yoga mats that don’t contain harmful phalates. Jade’s yoga mats are made out of sustainable, natural rubber, and the company plants one tree for every yoga mat sold through its partnership with Trees for the Future. Natural Fitness’ goal is to leave zero impact on the environment and provide everything you need for a green workout, including balance balls, resistance tubes, and reconstructed yoga totes and mat bags.

Use eco-friendly towels. Towels made from bamboo, organic cotton and hemp don’t require the use of harmful pesticides and are made from sustainable fibers. Find them at Earth Tech and Gaiam, as well as, where you can browse through a wide array of green products.

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