How Green Is Your Fitness Routine?

Surprise! Even runners contribute to global warming, it turns out.


I've long felt good about my relatively low contribution to global warming; I don't own a car, I take public transportation everywhere, and I walk to the gym. But my self-satisfaction ended when I read a recent Runner's World package on the not-insignificant environmental impact of my favorite hobby. If you have the time for it, this eye-opening feature tracking the manufacture and transport of just one pair of running shoes is well worth a read.

And other sports are not immune; I hate to think of the carbon footprint created by the manufacture of my beloved triathlon bike. (Outside Magazine's November issue has a story looking at whether a ski resort can ever be truly green. The full story isn't online, but the table of contents is here.)

Of course, it's clearly better to exercise than to sit on the sofa, depressed about the ecological impact of going for a run. Pretty much everything we do has some negative environmental consequences. And earlier this year, some researchers suggested that the obese actually contribute more to global warming and food scarcity than do the thin. So there's no need to become a carborexic. But you can pretty easily follow some of the Runner's World tips on how to be a greener runner, many of which are applicable to other sports and activities, too.

If you have any other green workout tips to share, send them to and I'll feature them in a future column.