EASI/BTCV Green Gym
Here in the United
States, the Environmental Alliance for Senior Involvement (EASI) is
replicating the Green Gym ™ program started in England by the
British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV).
The Health Benefits of the Green Gym
Green Gym projects in Oxfordshire and East Sussex have been
independently evaluated by Veronica Reynolds at the Oxford Centre for
Health Care Research Development at Oxford Brookes University.
Research at Sonning Common shows that taking part in regular Green Gym sessions can improve cardiovascular fitness and therefore reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke - almost a third more calories can be burned in an hour of taking part in a Green Gym session than in doing a step aerobics class!
Figure 1: Comparison of Heart Rate
Response between Step Aerobics and Tree Felling in the Green Gym.
Participation in a Green Gym can improve muscular
strength (as measured by handgrip strength). Increased strength can
lead to fewer falls, an increase in coping ability, and greater
independence, all benefits that are particularly important for older
Because health is much more than
physical fitness, the Green Gym provides a range of social and mental
benefits which contribute to an individual's well being:
Many people in today's society can
feel isolated from others through no fault of their own.
Social isolation is a risk factor for physical and mental
illness. Working in a
group, as in the Green Gym, can help people to meet."... We have
a laugh and a joke. Exercise is secondary for me, it is more perhaps
on the social side: seeing different places, meeting different
The feeling of achievement which comes from completing a task, such as planting a new hedge,
builds confidence and self-esteem.
"... for a year or so I was just faffing around [British slang
for doing nothing], not able to do an awful lot and then the Green Gym
came up. It gives me the opportunity to do something really
purposeful... it increases my self-esteem, my pride..."
The Green Gym has a positive impact
upon quality of life by providing interaction between the participant
and their environment. When a person is exposed to the natural
environment after a stressful event, their blood pressure drops within
For a full copy of The Green Gym: An Evaluation of a Pilot Project in Sonning
Common, Oxfordshire (Report No. 8) and An Evaluation of Portslade Green Gym,
contact the Oxford School for Health Care Research and Development at Oxford
Brookes University at: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Green Gym is a British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV)
initiative, supported by the Community Fund and part of the 'Are
you doing your bit?' campaign in England.
With BTCV’s permission, the Environmental Alliance for Senior
Involvement (EASI) is replicating the Green Gym program in the United
States. Green Gym™ is a
Registered Trade Mark of BTCV and EASI, 2002.
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