Greening your exercise, helping the environment



Taking care of yourself can benefit not only you, but also the world around you. Health is not often thought of when considering sustainability; however, the two can go hand-in-hand. Sustainability practices increase health, and using healthy practices can improve sustainability. 

Let’s look at exercise as an example. 

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends exercising as a means to stay healthy — both physically and mentally. Stop over at the Wellness Center any time of the day and you can spot people walking around the track, or pedaling speedily on a bike machine. It’s evident exercise is important to many on campus. 

Now, think of all the time we spend sitting in a car to get from place to place. Not only does driving have a negative environmental effect, but it can also diminish our health — and not just with the risk of a car accident. An article titled “Driving: A Road to Unhealthy Lifestyles and Poor Health Outcomes” by Ding and Gebel et al., discusses that longer driving times can contribute to lack of sleep, obesity and stress. 

Putting sustainability and health together, we can use exercise as a means of transportation. Not only are we achieving the CDC’s recommended amount of exercise per week, but we are also contributing to a cleaner environment. Walking and biking produce zero pollutants; a cleaner environment, in turn, helps reduce the frequency and severity of some health issues, such as asthma. 

While Brookings may not have the intense driving conditions studied in the article, we can still be proactive in both improving our health and the surrounding environment. Think of it this way: as we use exercise as a means of transportation, not only are we helping ourselves but we are also positively contributing to a healthier environment for all.


Jennifer McLaughlin is the sustainability specialist and can be reached at [email protected]