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Get a Green Workout

Wear Clothes That Breathe

Natural breathable fabrics such as 100% organic cotton jersey or natural fleece absorb moisture and draw heat away from your skin.

Other options: Bamboo clothing, which is also soft and dries faster. And it's a renewable resource. Soy fabric is warm, biodegradable, and resists bacteria.

Reuse Water Bottles

Have your fill of water without filling up a landfill. Shop smart: The potentially harmful chemical bisphenol A (BPA) can leach into the water from some hard plastic bottles. Instead, look for plastics marked BPA-free. Reusable stainless steel or aluminum bottles (with BPA-free linings) are good options, too. Or find a water fountain. While some bottled water may be safer or cleaner than tap water, much of it is not.

Go to a Green Gym

Look for these green practices at a gym or encourage your gym to try them: restricted towel use, recycling bins, reusable water bottles for sale, TVs turned off when not in use, and eco-friendly lighting, cleaning, and locker-room products. A growing number of green gyms also harness the energy people exert on cardio machines to power equipment.

Recycle Old Shoes

Through shoe recycling programs, used athletic and running shoes can live a new life as part of a playground or sports surface. Some charities take shoe donations and give them to the homeless or people in need overseas. Buying shoes made from recycled materials is another green option.

Burn Calories, Not Gasoline

Bike, ride a scooter, or walk to work, the store, or the gym. In fact, you could skip the gym and bike or walk for your workout. Riding at a moderate pace for 30 minutes burns about 220 calories. A brisk, 20-minute walk knocks off about 90. Cutting car time also reduces pollution so you -- and everyone else -- can breathe easier.

Skip the Energy Food and Drinks

Sugary energy drinks, gels, bars, and sports candies -- you don't need them for your workout, and often they aren't the healthiest choices. Instead of filling up on processed foods, fuel your workout with snacks like organic dried fruits, nuts, granola, yogurt, bananas, grapes, and water. Or eat an organic energy bar made with fruit, nuts, fiber, and protein.

Swim in Salt Water

Itchy eyes and dull, brittle hair?  Saltwater swimming pools, also called saline pools, don't rely as heavily on the harsh chemicals needed in traditional chlorine pools. That can make them easier on the planet and on your eyes, skin, hair, swimsuit, and respiratory system.

Get a Natural Yoga Mat

Rubber or organic jute, hemp, or cotton mats are made from renewable resources. They're also biodegradable and keep you from being nose-to-nose with potentially harmful chemicals found in some plastics, called PVCs. Thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) mats are a PVC-free plastic option and are anti-slip, moisture resistant, and durable.

Stay Home

Doing yoga, Pilates, or other exercises at home is convenient, inexpensive, and easy on the environment. Be creative about fitting activity into your routine: Try exercising while watching a favorite TV show, play tag with your children, garden, mow the lawn, or put on some music and dance while you clean house. 

Use Safer Bug Spray and Sunscreen

Studies have shown lemon eucalyptus repellent to be as effective as low concentrations of DEET in keeping bugs away. Other repellents made from plant-based ingredients, such as soy, appear to be less effective. For sun protection, avoid peak sun hours and wear a hat and long sleeves if possible. Sunscreens with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide are ideal for kids and adults with sensitive skin.

Exercise for a Good Cause

Need motivation? Sign up for a charity run or walk that draws attention to an earth-friendly cause. Or volunteer to clean a park or beach, plant trees, or tend to a community garden. National parks offer great active volunteer opportunities such as leading hikes; serving on bike, horseback, or ski patrols; and building or maintaining hiking, walking, or biking trails.

Soothe Sore Muscles

Treat yourself to a massage: It relaxes muscles, helps your body release natural painkillers, and may boost your immune system. Other natural remedies include heat, stretching, and rest.

Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on March 12, 2014

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