Good for your buns, good for the environment

Plus exercise bikes that turn human power into electricity

Summer is right around the corner. This means that the time to make good on that New Year’s resolution to get in shape for the summer is upon us. But while planning your routine to achieve those killer glutes and abs, don’t forget about the effect your workout has on the environment. This CAP repost has some simple tips to keep getting fit earth friendly,  including how you can generate clean electricity during your workout.

First of all, the great outdoors has some of the most energy efficient””and simple””workouts nature has to offer. Walking or jogging outside requires little waste-producing equipment other than running shoes, and saves precious CO2 compared to a treadmill workout, which uses two pounds of the stuff for a 30-minute run. And if hitting the pavement for half an hour sounds like a drag, combine a brisk jog to the supermarket with a stroll back home while toting your purchases for a workout that gets your heart rate up and helps tone your arms. Gardening, biking, and hiking also offer excellent opportunities for a zero-emission outdoors workout, and plenty of traditional exercises””jumping rope, squats, and pushups, to name a few””are easy to take outside as well.

If you need a little more structure for your exercise plan, consider joining a gym over buying a home cardio machine, which produces extra waste and gets used less over its lifetime compared to gym machines that are constantly in use. Gyms use lots of electricity to power their machines, air conditioning, and lights, but eco-friendly ones are becoming more and more common. Look for a gym that uses energy efficient equipment, such as treadmills that use about one-third less energy than traditional ones, and lights and televisions that are turned on only when needed. Using refillable water bottles and your own towel to wipe down equipment, rather than single-use disposable ones, can also help keep waste down.

Some gyms take energy efficiency a step further. The Green Microgym in Portland, Oregon, generates as much as 36 percent of its energy from solar panels and human-powered generators attached to stationary bikes and ellipticals. The Portland gym saved 37,000 kilowatt-hours in 2009 through its use of human and solar power and other energy-saving measures. If you prefer to keep your workout at home, and you’re feeling extra crafty, you can even build your own human-powered generator.

A vigorous workout will produce  on average of 50 Watts of  clean electricity.   You can also build your own:

Whether you decide to workout at home or at the gym, choosing eco-friendly gear is a must. Hit up Craigslist or a garage sale for gently used bikes, free weights, or other equipment. Shop around for yoga or exercise mats made of non-PVC material, and look for breathable workout clothes made from organic soy or cotton blends, and recycled rubber-soled shoes.

This is reposted from CAP.

4 Responses to Good for your buns, good for the environment

  1. fj2 says:

    Actually, cycling is 3 to 4 times more efficient and faster than walking and taken to the logical extreme, if the 2 billion approximate chronic poor on this planet were given bikes it would theoretically reduce emissions from their breathing by over 60 percent while improving quality of life.

    Of course, replacing heavy wasteful environmentally devastating industry and transportation is even a much more dramatically effective solution to the accelerating environmental crisis.

  2. fj2 says:

    1. fj2 (continued),

    Here’s the oxymoronic kicker: We burn stuff to cool stuff because we make stuff hot!

    The “heat island effect” of New York City’s built environment raises its temperature 10 degrees over that of surrounding areas; something never mentioned in the efficiency ratings of cars as the associative environmentally devastating infrastructure and other externalities is overwhelming ignored.

    And, this 10-degree raise in local climate is virtually immediate!

  3. steve says:

    During the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 some friends decided to let their kids use a TV. They had been a TV free family, but one of them was an Olympian years before. “Dad” was a mechanical engineer and rigged an old bike with a 12 vdc generator. An 11 yr old kid could get about 60 watts output. He found an old black and white tv set and hacked it for 12 vdc. It ended up needing about 50 watts. Their two kids would alternate using the bike to watch. They got *really* good at figuring out the length of commercials and developed good thigh muscles over the course of the games.

    They asked about color, so Dad wired up a 150 watt dummy load for them to try. Nope — black and white was just fine for them:-)

  4. Bernard says:

    Thanks for the great post, i guess i never thought of exercise bikes being good for both health and the environment, i guess you learn something new every day.