By Natalie Morant - December 31st, 2022 | Posted in Article No comments

The excesses of Christmas are over, bar the boxes of chocolates you have promised yourself you’ll consume at a controlled pace. Time to get back into a regular exercise routine, or perhaps to start a new one.

But what does your exercise routine have to do with the environment? Well, quite a lot actually. By putting a bit of thought into how you go about keeping fit, you can minimise your contribution to climate change, reduce the amount of plastic that goes into the ocean, and potentially save yourself money while you’re doing it.

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First, think about whether joining a gym, which is what most people opt for these days, is really your best option. Gyms themselves consume a lot of energy, while you expend yours. It’s also likely that you’ll be driving there, adding to pollution and spending money on fuel. Could you exercise straight from home instead? As someone with many years of experience in gyms and in the great outdoors, I’d like to offer up a few advantages of the latter:

  • It costs a lot less – no fuel, no membership fees.
  • It’s much quicker – cut out the travel time and exercise at or from your home. It is a lot easier to fit into your day.
  • Finally, it feels really good to be outside. Looking out across the hills as you cycle is so much better than staring at an animated screen in front of you. And it may sound weird, but there’s nothing like getting home from a run covered in mud and soaked to the skin to make you feel alive!

And another thing I’ve noticed is that gyms are super busy for about three weeks in January, then very quickly become less so as new members lose motivation and stop attending. Most memberships require you to have a gym session at least twice a week, every week, to get your money’s worth. Can you sustain that? Are you likely to be one of the non-attenders come early February?

If you still want to join a gym to exercise then there are plenty of choices you can make to reduce your impact on the environment. Cycling, running or walking there is one way.

Clothing is one thing you may not have considered. Having sweated away in any brands I could buy cheaply for years, I was shocked when I found out that many of my workout clothes are adding microplastics to the water supply every time I wash them. It seems obvious now, but was something I had never thought about before. I’ve done some research on sustainable brands of sportswear and came up with a list of companies you might want to look into. I have only listed UK companies here, in the interest of cutting out fuel used for importing.

  • Sundried
  • Presca
  • Planet Warrior
  • Zouma
  • Bam
  • Hylo and Vivobarefoot for running shoes

Unfortunately, some of these brands are more expensive than the big manufacturers, but I was impressed by Sundried’s prices and I’ve bought clothing at good prices from BAM. If you have any experience of activewear from these companies, or can recommend others, please tell us all in the comments. I’m currently working with the philosophy of using all my sports clothes until they are unusable but next time I buy, it will be from a more ecologically conscious brand.

What about equipment? One way to be greener is to reuse instead of buying new. You can save a lot of money on a second-hand bike, for instance, and get yourself something with a really high spec! If you are thinking of getting an exercise bike, treadmill or rower for home use, check out reconditioned ones first and save the planet from the emissions produced when a brand-new machine is made. Even when selecting equipment as inexpensive as an exercise mat, it’s worth considering what the greener option is. Many yoga mats are made from PVC, but you can buy an all-rubber or plant fibre one or find a pre-owned one online.


Finally – and I know you’ve probably heard this many times before, but take a reusable drinks bottle. Please don’t buy a new bottle of water for every workout. In fact, I would strongly urge you never to buy bottled water in the UK. We are lucky enough to have perfectly drinkable tap water.

I hope this article has given you a few things to think about as you embark on your exercise program for 2023. Remember that every exercise session will make you feel better afterwards (especially with the extra endorphins released if you are spending time outdoors), so stick with it and good luck!



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