Woman in Red Sweater Stretching
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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.

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Water Bottle Mounted on Bike
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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.

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Recycle Bin in Gym Composite
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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.

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Worn Out Gym Shoes
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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.

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Business  Man on Razor Scooter
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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.

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Healthy Granola Held in Hands
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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.

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Woman Smiling Underwater
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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.

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Woman on Rock Doing Yoga
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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.

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Mother and Daughter Hula Hooping
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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. 

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Woman on Tropical Beach
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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.

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people working in a community garden
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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.

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Woman Enjoying Massage
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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.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 05/15/2016 Reviewed by Ross Brakeville, DPT on May 15, 2016


(1)    Amana Productions Inc.
(2)    Creative Studio Heinemann
(3)    Angela Wyant/Stone-Photo-Alto/Eric Audras
(4)    Image Source
(5)    David Burch/Upper Cut Images
(6)    Jerry Errico/FoodPix
(7)    Laureen Middley/Stone
(8)    Studio Peter Frank/Digital Vision
(9)    Smith Collection/Iconica
(10)    E.Rowe/Axiom Photographic Agency
(11)    Getty Images
(12)    Marc Romanelli/Image Bank


Planet Green: "7 Surprising High-Tech Green Exercise Fabrics."
Environmental Protection Agency: "Ground & Drinking Water – Frequently Asked Questions."
The Green Guide, National Geographic: "Tapped Out."
Daily Green: "How to Prevent Breast Cancer: 20 Risk Factors."
Mother Nature Network: "Green gyms pump up the earth."
Planet Green: "Top Green Workout Tips."
Run the Planet: "Fully Recycled Running Shoes."
Planet Green: "Recycle Your Used Running Shoes."
American Cancer Society: "Exercise Counts."
Consumer Reports: "Want an eco-friendly yoga mat? Here's what you need to know."
CDC: "Insect Repellent Use and Safety."
Environmental Working Group: "CDC: Americans Carry Body Burden of Toxic Sunscreen Chemical."
Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Sunscreen: "Plant-Based Mosquito Repellents: Making a Careful Choice."
The Daily Green: "7 Natural Insect Repellents."
National Park Service: "Volunteer."
Mayo Clinic: "Massage: A Relaxing Method to Relieve Stress and Pain."

Reviewed by Ross Brakeville, DPT on May 15, 2016

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.