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5 Eco-friendly ways to stay healthy

Sarah Kelsey is a lifestyle writer, editor and spokesperson based in Toronto. She was the editor of AOL/The Huffington Post Canada’s StyleList, Style and Living sites. Today, she's a freelancer writing for some of North America’s top pub...

Green your health routine

It's never been easier to green your healthy living routine. Here are our top five eco-friendly health and fitness tips.

Woman running outside

1. Nix cotton

The problem: Cotton is everywhere and it's a huge water waster. Did you know it takes a whopping 400 gallons of water to grow the cotton required to make one t-shirt? That says nothing of the cotton sheets we use as bedding.

The solution: Many designers for home and fashion have swapped cotton for bamboo. Not only is bamboo greener, it's also softer and wicks moisture and harmful bacteria away from the skin. As a renewable resource, it's one of the greenest and healthiest ways you can green your every day routine.

2. Shrink your beauty routine

The problem: Do you really need to wash your face with three products twice a day? Probably not. One of the easiest ways to go green, and improve your health (many generic products contain toxic chemicals), is by cutting back on the number of beauty products you use to get ready every day.

The solution: Start by buying products that have a two-in-one capability, like shampoo plus conditioner, or look for items that are organic and eco-friendly. Packaging can also be a problem; be sure to buy from lines that limit their wrapping.

3. Exercise outside

The problem: While gyms are a convenient place to work out, they're hard on the environment. Most of the exercise machines stay plugged in all night, whether someone's using them or not, which is energy inefficient, and the same goes for the televisions and lights that get used inside the gym.

The solution: Get outside for your workouts. From riding your bike to going for a run, it's much more eco-friendly. On top of that, research shows spending time outside will naturally boost your spirit and will help decrease stress.

Let the sun shine in

The problem: As soon as the sun starts setting. you flick the switch on all of your lights and leave them on for the rest of the night. The move is a huge drain on energy and can confuse your circadian rhythm (the biological clock we all live by). On top of that, if you spend more time indoors than you do outside, you'll be limiting the amount of vitamin D you get from the sun.

The solution: Spend as much time outside as you can during the day and, when you're inside, situate yourself by a window so you can soak up some of the sun's rays, even as it sets. Also, avoid turning on the lights as soon as the sun starts setting; the darkening sky is a cue for your body to get into bedtime mode. Limit the lights you use and, if you have dimmer switches, keep them at a low to medium intensity.

5. Stop idling and get out of your car

The problem: Beyond wasting fuel and clogging the environment with toxic emissions that are harmful to our lungs, letting a car idle is a bad move financially. What's worse, opting for drive-thru instead of in-store coffee service, only increases the amount of time you spend sitting each day instead of exercising or interacting with people.

The solution: Get up and out of your car. Quit idling and you'll also boost the air quality of your city as a whole. Not only that, you'll up the amount of movement you get in a day and will increase the face time you spend with people, which research shows is a key component to boosting happiness.

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