Archive for the Fitness Category

Primal Is the New Green Exercise

Posted in Fitness, green, Parks with tags , , , on January 30, 2012 by MarilynB

Maybe it’s nostalgia for the early hominid lifestyle, but recent years gave us the paleo diet and now we’re seeing the rise of “primal fitness.” Primal fitness is outdoor exercise involving jumping, running, and lifting natural objects like logs and stones. Practitioners tout it as a whole movement approach (as opposed to training one muscle or muscle group with one movement) with the added psychological benefits of spending time outdoors.

Similar to an outdoor boot camp, primal fitness may also be a little different from the Cross-Fit style boot camps that spring up in local parks. Indeed, many municipalities now ban the use of public parks for paid fitness instruction.  Cross Fit recently has been under fire for overuse injuries and many boot camps have caused complaints by other parks users.  Is there a real difference?  It probably depends on your trainer.

Of course the real questions are whether primal fitness is safe and effective. Addressing safety first, I’d say that its emphasis on whole-body movements (squats, lunges) is positive. As long as your fitness trainer has appropriate training and skills, knowledge of progressions and contraindicated moves, and good form, you should be as safe participating in primal fitness as you would be in any other exercise. Injuries happen. You could trip while leaping over a log or drop a rock on you foot but there is no inherent reason why primal fitness would be any more dangerous than a sculpt and tone class.

Many studies show that simply spending time outside improves mood. Theories abound whether the brain is responding to vitamin D production or to returning to the natural environment. On a personal level, after Iadopted a dog, I learned that Philly winters aren’t so bad, if you take a mid-day walk to get fresh air and daylight.  My mood improved and I didn’t get sick.

Primal fitness is certainly a greener option than heading indoors to the gym.  The sun provides the heat and light and you’re not on a perpetual motion machine that draws from carbon-energy grid.  Even if you use gym equipment that creates or returns power, using your own energy outside still has less ecological impact.

My take on primal fitness?  Getting outside to move is always the right thing to do.  Incorporating natural, whole movements is relatively safe.  Ultimately if you enjoy exercise, you’re more likely to continue.  If your chosen exercise also gives you additional mental and emotional benefits, you’re more likely to continue.  Get out and get primal!

Eco-friendly Fitness Gear

Posted in Fitness, health with tags , , on March 6, 2009 by MarilynB
Sneaker with Plenty of Wear Remaining

Sneaker with Plenty of Wear Remaining

Most gyms and fitness equipment are far from ecologically sound. Television units on ellipticals play whether or not the elliptical is in use. Power usage for the ellipticals and treadmills are huge. Shoes and equipment are made from petroleum, plastic, and other synthetic compounds. New products with biodegradable and have more natural sources are arriving.

Sneakers have a large environmental impact with plastic, leather, and petroleum sources. Worse is that fitness buffs use them so heavily that it’s easy to wear a pair out in a few months and add them to overflowing landfills. Fortunately shoe companies are stepping up their game by introducing sneakers with more recycled and biodegradable parts. The Keen Coronado Lace Shoe is made from cork and canvas and donates $1 to the National Wildlife Federation for each pair of kids shoes sold. New Balance now offers the New Balance 1224 with a liner that is made from coconut shells. Adidas uses hemp in the adi Grün series and the Brook Trance 8 for running claims to use a nontoxic substance in the sole that breaks down that sole, decreasing mass in landfills. For the sneaker snob, Veja offers exclusive productions runs of 500 sneakers made with Amazonian wild latex and organic cotton grown by small producers in North-eastern Brazil (Do they contribute to deforestation?).

Bottled water costs more than gasoline on average and is extremely wasteful. Common tap water in the U.S. is tested frequently for safety and flavor. Tap water is safe and pleasant. Bottled water is often tap water that has been trucked all over the world. Sometimes it is moved from countries that lack adequate sanitation and drinking sources. Discarded water bottles hit our landfills, where they require generations to degrade. Plastic bottles also include chemicals that can affect human hormones. Plastic is petroleum-based and the US wastes 1.5 million barrels of oil per year producing plastic water bottles.

Instead of buying bottled water, buy a bottle and reuse it. Kleen Kanteen offers a metal bottle that is completely recyclable and is free from plastic. BioGreen bottles are plastic bottles, but they’re 100% biodegradable, recyclable and reusable. On the positive reusable plastic bottles are long lasting and are not designed to join the trash heap when empty.

With a little planning and some help from manufacturers, fitness can be more environmentally friendly. Changing just a couple products like your water bottle and your sneaker can improve the earth while you get fit. We only have one body and one earth so let’s care for both simultaneously.