Guide to a Sustainable Workout Routine: 5 Simple Steps

Advice on How to Develope a Sustainable Workout Routine. Put together with the help of adidas, who have created a complete guide to sustainability in the footwear industry, including insights into eco-innovation and the war on plastic, facts about materials and waste, and ways you help can help as a consumer.


When it comes to making the environment a better place, you often think of things like recycling, renewable energy, or food harvesting, but what about fitness? Making small changes to your fitness routine can greatly improve the health of the environment and your own health. 

If you are going to live a sustainable lifestyle, you will find that it can be implemented into most of your daily activities, even your fitness routine. Here are a few ways to keep yourself and the planet in good shape. 

1. Exercise Outdoors

The warm weather is practically here, why be cooped up in a gym anyways. Exercising has numerous benefits when it comes to your mental and physical well-being, but exercising outside expounds on those benefits. Exercising outdoors is also known as green exercise. You have the fresh air and the sunlight to keep you feeling good instead of being in an indoor facility with a climate-controlled environment. 

It challenges your body in ways indoor workouts cannot. Whether you are running, walking, hiking, or biking the environment is continuously changing around you and your body switches to a function that works best in that environment. 

For example, if you’re running inclines and encountering bumps, holes or other obstacles, your body will adapt and work harder to get through. Working harder means you will likely burn much more calories. As you take in the direct sunlight your vitamin D intake will increase and your brain will exude higher levels of serotonin. Both are effective when it comes to enhancing your mood. 

Exercising and spending time outside can also improve your self-esteem and is also known to relieve stress. Spending time outside in nature can also lower your blood pressure and help you prioritize your physical health. 

Gyms and indoor facilities alone can be a detriment to the environment. They are the home of numerous vending machines that carry plastic bottles. They’re also filled with machinery that relies on power and a lot of electricity.

By minimizing the use of energy-consuming equipment you are reducing your carbon footprint. As mentioned earlier gyms have controlled environments, like controlled-circulated air. By making the change to exercising outdoors you allow yourself to breathe fresh air and protect your lungs from pollutants that are often found indoors—especially in gyms. 

Forget commuting to the gym every day, having to deal with traffic, or waiting to use a machine. By exercising outside, you don’t have to go far. Make the most out of parks, beaches and hiking trails in your area. Every day doesn’t have to be outside, but mixing it can lead yout to take advantage of all the benefits.

Sustainable Workout Routine: man doing pushups
Photo by Fortune Vieyra on Unsplash

2. Invest in Sustainable Activewear

Becoming more sustainable through fitness doesn’t just mean where you work out and how you workout, it also includes what you wear. You want to be sure that your clothes are ethically made, from the shirt down to the sustainable shoes

Shoes can often be made up of tons of harmful and toxic materials that could take up to 1,000 years to decompose in a landfill. Some of those harmful materials are synthetic rubber, plastic, and leather. If you workout frequently, it’s not uncommon that your workout shoes will get worn down. Instead of tossing them out, consider donating them to a local shelter, thrift store or other organization that accepts worn goods. 

Try shoes that are crafted from recycled or reused material to reduce your overall footprint. This includes shoes made of biodegradable or renewable materials, like cotton canvas and natural rubber soles.

There is no shame in admitting workout clothes are made of great materials like polyester and spandex, but unfortunately they are not biodegradable. If you are looking for materials that will still keep your body cool and dry while working out, try clothes made of sustainable fibers

The materials are not the only thing to look out for when shopping for sustainable wear. Check to see if the shoes and clothes were actually made sustainably—like at a factory that conserves energy and water and one that doesn’t use hazardous chemicals. While this may seem like a lot to be on the lookout for, there are numerous brands that put sustainability first. 

Now that you’ve made sure your clothes and shoes are good to go, don’t forget about your equipment. Items like your yoga mat and water bottle can be sustainable too. For your water bottle, avoid single-use plastic and try a reusable bottle that is made of sustainable materials such as a bamboo bottle. Make sure your mat is made of natural rubbers and free of synthetic fibers to not only protect you but the environment. 

3. Try Plogging

If you haven’t heard the term plogging just yet, you may not be able to escape hearing it soon, as this sustainable sport has been on an upward trend. Plogging is the merge between jogging and picking up trash along the way. With plogging being a fairly new trend here are some tips that will help you along the way. 

  • Plog in a group. This activity can be done individually but like anything else, it is more fun if your community, coworkers, or friends join in. 
  • Add in some other workout moves. Plogging is all about getting down to get trash, so try squatting when picking it up or bending on one leg. By implementing these workout moves on your jog, you’ll be able to strengthen your muscles and endurance. 
  • Alternate which arm is carrying the trash bag. Constantly carrying the bag on one side will cause strains in your arms and hands. 
  • Use gloves. Picking up trash as you go is great for the planet but can be unsanitary, so make you’ll want to keep your hands clean and protected. 
  • Add sprints to your jogging. Improve your cardio-vascular performance by climbing, jumping, or changing your speed to intensify the session. 
  • Make it competitive. Who doesn’t love some good friendly competition? If you are plogging with a group, plog in teams and see who can pick up the most litter by the end of the run. 
  • Add in another sport. If jogging doesn’t seem to be catching your attention, don’t give up on plogging. Try another exercise like walking or cycling to maintain great shape for you and the environment. 

Aside from burning calories, plogging holds a lot of other benefits. It’s good for the heart, increases lung capacity, and improves digestion. It also strengthens your bones by increasing your bone density, which can reduce the risk of arthritis and osteoporosis. This is a great fitness routine that doesn’t require classes or equipment—just you, a bag, and your desire to help the planet. 

4. Working Out for A Cause

With exercising you want to always look at it in a positive light. To help ensure that positivity,  there are initiatives to encourage people to get active for a good cause. Community fitness events and local races are a great way to get involved. Challenges such as a 5k run or a cycling marathon can help aim to raise money and awareness for numerous charities. 

Find out what events are happening near you and the rules and regulations for raising funds. Raising money and awareness for a certain topic, such as sustainability, is very common and you will be sure to find one that caters to your workout needs. Pick one that you are passionate about and that will keep you motivated. 

5. Plan Out Your Meals 

A key part of exercising is the way you eat, but a crucial element to the environment is food waste. According to the UNEP Food Waste Index Report, 8 to 10 percent of global greenhouse emissions come from food that is produced but not consumed. Households often throw out vegetables that don’t look right or freak out about the expiration date, making food waste one of the biggest contributors to your carbon footprint. 

Trying to reduce food waste and planning out your meals can seem overwhelming, but it will allow you to save money, fewer trips to the store, and eat healthier. By planning out your meals, you won’t have to worry about what’s for dinner after a long day. 

Creating a meal plan does not have to be difficult. Try writing out your meals for each day of the week, making a grocery list and sticking to it to avoid purchasing any unnecessary items. By planning your meals out for the week you are creating a strategy that helps eliminate leftovers and food waste. 

Final Thoughts on Creating a Sustainable Workout Routine

Making small changes in your every day routine can make a big impact on your health and the health of the environment. For more tips and sustainable exercise ideas, check out the infographic below to find out how to make your fitness routine more sustainable

fitness routine earth friendly sustainable iv7prz