Environmental AllianceEasi Logofor Senior Involvement

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

The 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 summary

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.
HR - bpm = Heart Rate beats per minute.

  More importantly, the range of activities in a Green Gym allows participants to exercise at the level which suits their individual capabilities.

  Figure 2 : Comparison of calories used during conventional fitness and Green Gym activities.


                                  Source: McArdle, Katch and Katch 1996.

 

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 people.

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 people."

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 three seconds.

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: j.dewhurst@brookes.ac.uk.

The 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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