exercise – the eco-way?

March 24, 2009

I confess, I’m not being particularly consciously green in my exercise regime.  OK, I’ll confess more, I don’t think I even have an exercise regime.  But I do go through spurts where exercise becomes something of a priority.

For a couple of years I was a regular yoga-class attender.  It was a 6 a.m. class 3 days a week and that worked well with my schedule.    But then they had to change the time to 9 a.m. and that didn’t work at all.  

I also went through physical therapy for a back injury a couple of years ago and was given a long list of core-building exercises using an exercise ball.  I did those exercises every morning for most of a year.  But then I got better and they didn’t seem as important.  The ball was used more as a foot stool than as an exercise prop, and eventually it sprung a leak.

On other occasions I have been an avid walker.   Sometimes I walk with others, sometimes I walk alone.  Sometimes I sit on my duff.

Last fall, after 10 months of relative slugness, I was ready to get back to the gym.  I was doing it right, starting slow, wasn’t going to burn myself out right at the start.  And then one morning at the gym I simply leaned forward and threw out my back like it had never gone out before.  The gym is associated with a hospital and I spent a few hours in the E.R. getting x-rays and muscle relaxants and pain meds.  Needless to say, my exercise regime was a non-starter.

Now, 4 months later, I feel healed.  I’ve started walking with friends again on a semi-regular basis and I’m ready to revisit more back-involved exercises.  Today I broached 15 minutes of yoga and ball-work with good results.  At first I could barely reach past my knees as I attempted something resembling a forward bend, by the end I could touch my toes (with my longest finger).  Granted, I used to be able to put my palms on the floor next to my feet.  Baby steps, baby steps.

So, is yoga green?  Maybe in some existential, be one with the universe, sort of way it is.  It is possible to buy an eco-friendly (expensive) yoga mat, my yoga strap is cotton (alas, not organic) and my yoga block is made of cork rather than some man-made material.  Yoga does not involve fossil fuels as long as I don’t drive to a class.  All in all it is relatively environmentally benign (if you ignore the yoga mat).

The exercise ball?  The ball, like the yoga mat, is probably made of environmentally evil material.  But that’s about the extent of the evil I think (if you also ignore the croc-like shoes I prefer when exercising – they keep me from slipping)

Even walking is not totally environmentally-friendly; that is walking shoes aren’t generally produced with ecology in mind.  But a quick eco-key search suggests there may be some (not necessarily inexpensive) green alternatives.  Perhaps when my present walking shoes wear out I’ll invest in an eco-friendly pair. 

Let me ponder my ultimate green exercise regime…. I see myself  barefoot in the woods by a creek with an organic cotton mat.  I have my cork yoga block, an organic cotton strap and an exercise ball made of, um, something environmentally friendly (rubber perhaps).  There is no music, only the singing of the birds.  After a body and soul enhancing work out I put on my organic, vegan, walking shoes (with organic cotton socks – in fact my entire outfit is organic cotton) and I walk briskly yet happily along the wooded path. 

It’s a goal anyway.


One comment

  1. There is an organization that recycles yoga mats, if that makes you feel better! http://www.recycleyourmat.com.

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