Environmentally-Friendly Exercise: Running is Green, Right?

Runners should remember their part in environmental responsibility.

I'm being barraged by "green" this and "green" that these days. It got me thinking about our sport and how green it is. Let's do a quick walk through of it and see what we come up with. Maybe we qualify for carbon credits? We can trade those for new shoes on the commodity exchange.

In general, runners are probably one of (if not the most) concerned-with-the-environment demographics. Seriously. Take a look around at your next race. These are people who are deep into a healthy life style. They are personally accountable and responsible for their health. I'm sure that cascades into the rest of their lifestyle. As a population, I'm sure we recycle, reduce and re-use.

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Runners have a lot to be proud of on the environmental responsibility front. Just for fun, let's see if we can do a quick comparison of the good and bad effects we have on our small planet.

What about eating habits and lifestyle?

I bet a fair amount of runners are vegetarians or at least love a good salad every now and then. I would have to give us a plus sign on the 'intent' here. Whether in practice we actually do a better job of taking care of ourselves is another story, but I'll credit us with knowing what to do and having good intentions.

I'd say on the whole we make better eating choices and as a population we make more sustainable choices that are better for our world.

On the other hand, the math is interesting. Let's say I run 50 miles a week. That's about 5000 calories I burn. I probably consume 5 to 10 percent more calories than I would require if I weren't a compulsive running nut. Does this mean that I'm taking 1,000 daily calories out of the available world calorie pool with my thoughtless dashing about in circles at the local track?

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With the millions of us out there, doesn't this mean that we are causing more acreage to be planted to support our out-sized appetites? Aren't we contributing to the rainforests being burned, the over-fertilization of continents, squandered water, the genetic mutation of crops and all the other evils of over-production? Are we creating an unnecessary and artificial population boom?

Maybe we'd be less impactful staying home and doing meditation. Hmm... food for thought.

But doesn't our running and biking replace a bunch of carbon producing driving?

Surely there's a positive for us. We use our legs to get places not our gas guzzling SUVs, right? We ride our bikes to work, right? This has to be a softening on the carbon footprint. We are the reason there are sidewalks. We are fit and don't need our bodies transported everywhere through artificial means.

More: The Green Microgym: A Leader in Sustainable Fitness

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