How to exercise the eco way

With the London 2012 Olympics now in full swing our eyes are glued to the athletic achievements of others, but how important is exercise in your child’s life? And is there such a thing as eco-friendly exercise?

Eco friendly exercise

How important is exercise in childhood?

Our lives are becoming increasingly more sedentary, growing worse with each generation as technology advances and our daily lives become less physically demanding. Childhood obesity has become one of the most talked about concerns for our children, and this is in addition to the other health concerns a lack of exercise can pose for your child: high blood pressure and cholesterol, an increased risk of diabetes and some cancers, and an adverse effect on their psychological well-being. It also doesn’t help that many kids (and adults) see exercise as more of a chore than a pleasure, and as we all know what you instill in your child when they are young will affect their perceptions when they’re older. By getting your child active now, they will know the importance—and fun—of having exercise in their daily lives as adults.

The recommended minimum for daily physical activity varies depending on age. For more information, see the NHS guidelines located on their website.

Is there eco-friendly exercise?

For the most part, exercise is eco-friendly. All you need is your body and space to move. In recent years, however, this has changed. We are more reliant on cars and other forms of vehicular transport to get us around and in order to meet our exercise minimums both parents and children have to schedule exercise into their daily lives. Additionally, it is marketed that no form of exercise can be performed without a specially designed wardrobe, much of which is not made with the environment in mind.

How can you and your kids be eco-friendly athletes?

  1. When you can, ditch the car! Walk the kids to school instead of driving, use a bike to get to work or to make small shopping trips, or go rollerblading around your neighborhood. You’ll get exercise, get where you need to go, and lower your carbon footprint all at the same time.
  2. Take inspiration from Samuel Huber who runs with a biodegradable bin bag picking up trash he finds on his route. Take a bag with you and your child on walks or bike rides and help make your area a cleaner one.
  3. Play games as a family! Play football, badminton or tag in the park, play hide-and-seek around your house, go swimming at the beach or local pool, or bird watch on nature hikes. Getting everyone involved not only ensures an active family, but helps your child associate exercise with fun and positivity.
  4. Use electricity free equipment such as jump ropes, balls, that trusty yoga mat, or (for the adults) electricity-free elliptical machines. Not only is more of your energy required to get a full workout but you lower your power consumption which is good for the planet.
  5. Use aluminum water bottles instead of plastic ones. Plastic bottles contain phthalates, plastic softeners, which are continuously released into the environment (including food and drink) due to not being chemically bound to the plastic it’s in. Studies suggest that phthalates can affect things such as birth weight, gestational age, and the timing of puberty. Aluminum bottles can also be reused which means less rubbish in landfills.
  6. Recycle old clothes into workout gear when you can, otherwise go eco! Buy organic, sustainably or ethically made clothes from sites such as Gossypium.co.uk, Patagonia.com, and Fushi.co.uk

Source: Spark people.com, Heart.org, Flatoutfresh.com

Photography: Mike Baird @Flickr

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