Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finally, finally confessed that greenhouse gases are a health problem. I’m not surprised—except that it took so long. In any case, there is actually a lot that we can all do to cut our own greenhouse emissions, especially in our quest for fitness. It seems kind of crazy to think about getting fit as causing pollution. But when you get onto a treadmill or that elliptical machine, that’s exactly what you are doing. Exercise is extremely important for mind as well as body, as Dr. Rossman points out today on Rodale.com. So here are my top 10 ways you can get fit on the clean and on the cheap.
1. Walk. This is a no-brainer. Walk for pleasure, walk for errands, walk for something. Getting outside and walking actually accomplishes two goals at once—it makes you healthier by getting your body moving, and your exposure to nature and sunlight makes you happier. You don’t need fancy shoes, either. Once I walked 3 miles in a pair of Crocs. It was easy.
2. Dance. My personal favorite—which I don’t do enough of. Turn on your radio or your iPod—or better yet, go to a festival with live music—and dance your heart out. Bring your kids. Look like an idiot. Grin like a goofball. Too many people sit out the dance because they don’t want to look stupid. So do it in the privacy of your own home if you must, but do it. It’s too much fun not to.
3. Clean. Believe it or not, you can burn a lot of calories by cleaning—especially if it’s the spring cleaning sort. Just don’t contaminate your cleaning workout by using toxic chemicals; clean with soap and water, vinegar, or other mild cleansers. More importantly, move the couch and clean underneath it. Wash windows (I find a squeegee and a squirt of dish soap in a bucket of water works the best.) Get all the crap out of the garage.
4. Swim. Find a pond, a pool, an ocean or a creek and jump in. Instead of swimming laps, try treading water. It’s a workout! And you can just hang out and chat with your friends and family while you are doing it.
5. Play tag. Not only is the stopping and starting and sprinting of a game like tag a better challenge for your body than running long distances, it can be a lot more fun. Your lungs and abs will get a workout from laughing so hard.
6. Volunteer. Give up a few hours to a local nonprofit to help with community garden digging, trail building, or other physical labor. I’m a firm believer in the idea that what goes around, comes around. You’ll get a double benefit: the good feeling that comes from helping others, and the soreness that comes from working hard.
7. Become a yogi/yogini. Yoga is something like 3,000 years old. Do you really think they had those sticky mats back when it started? You don’t have to spend a dime on it; just check out a book like Light on Yoga from the library, clear a space in your home (make sure the floor is clean), and start on your path to physical and spiritual freedom. Yes, a teacher helps and is important, but the most important thing is embarking on the journey, and only you can do that.
8. Have sex. Seriously, it does burn calories and I don’t know about you but it makes me a lot less cranky.
9. Sweep and rake. Am I the only one who thinks that leaf blowers are completely idiotic? Rakes and brooms not only work just as well, but using one is a pleasurable, quiet and healthy activity. The Japanese live a lot longer than we do, and you don’t see them using leaf blowers in their famous gardens. You see them meticulously, meditatively maintaining those gardens in a way that has worked well without polluting for thousands of years.
10. Sing. While it may not burn that many calories, the deep breathing and vibrations from a good loud song are great for you. If you don’t want to join a choir or go to church, sing while you clean, sing while you walk, sing while you…do whatever you want!
Have I forgotten anything? Let me know and we’ll add it to the list. Now get out there and have some fun!!!