People working in a garden on a Green Gym

Health & Wellbeing

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TCV supports people to improve their physical and mental health and wellbeing, by being outdoors, active and connected with others

A wide range of TCV activities provide opportunities to improve physical and mental health and wellbeing through physical activity and social interaction.

TCV’s Green Gym programme, provides an alternative to traditional gym or fitness activities. Almost one third more calories can be burnt in some Green Gym sessions than in an average aerobics class.

Green Gym consists of fun and free outdoor sessions that improve green spaces. The emphasis is very much on health and fitness, improving the physical and mental health and wellbeing of those involved.

Green Gym - Exercise to make a difference

Green Gym branding

TCV created and runs Green Gyms across the UK.

Green Gyms are fun and free outdoor sessions where you will be guided in practical activities such as planting trees, sowing meadows and establishing wildlife ponds.

Unlike other conservation projects, the emphasis is very much on health and fitness - volunteers warm up and cool down in preparation for a range of light to vigorous activities to suit all abilities.

Conservation work is my best workout each week

Green Gym volunteer

In fact, almost a third more calories can be burnt in some Green Gym sessions than in an average aerobics class!

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Health and Wellbeing

Woman gathering leavesThe Department of Health and GPs recognise the invaluable impact that Green Gyms can have on those who take part.

GPs now prescribe Green Gym sessions to patients to encourage them to improve their health and wellbeing. By taking part, participants are encouraged to make positive changes to their lifestyle, such as walking and cycling more.

Green Gym helped me to regain the confidence to return to employment and I now have a full-time job

Green Gym volunteer – Portslade Green Gym, East Sussex

Green Gyms also enhance mental wellbeing through increased contact with nature, the social benefits of group activity and helping people contribute something positive to their community. TCV work closely with partners, including mental health charity Mind, to continually innovate Green Gyms to ensure that they maximise the benefits for participants.

Green Gym Impact

Not only do these sessions improve your health and stamina, they also benefit local green spaces.

Unlike many conventional gyms, taking part in a Green Gym is free and a great social activity too, allowing you to meet new people and work together to transform your local area, while also learning new skills every week.

Proven to support mental wellbeing

Green Gym recently featured in an innovative study run by the University of Westminster for the BBC2 programme Trust Me I Am A Doctor.

The study monitored changes to the level of the stress hormone cortisol in separate groups of participants taking part in Green Gym, Yoga and Mindfulness sessions. Compared to a similar group of participants that did not engage in any extra activity, the participants in the Green Gym group had an average 20% improvement in cortisol awakening response, which was increased up to 35% in some participants. This study also showed that Green Gym participants reported higher levels of well-being and lower levels of stress.

Just 8 weeks of participation in TCV's Green Gym showed clear enhancements in the cortisol awakening response which is beneficial for health and well-being. Participants also reported marked reductions in anxiety, as well as reduced feeling of stress. This study looked at mental health, however, the physical activity and social nature of Green Gym is likely to have many other health benefits that warrant further research.

Professor Angela Clow, University of Westminster

Green Gyms are Growing

The demand for Green Gyms is growing with more launching each year - in urban centres such as London the number of Green Gyms has grown by 500% since 2011. With the rise in physical inactivity, isolation and the resulting health issues Green Gyms provide opportunities for individuals to connect with nature and their community, and co-create high quality and sustainable green spaces.

We are also working with Mind on an innovative new project called Pro-Active Minds. This will promote individual resilience and wellbeing for people who are at risk of developing a mental health condition or who have otherwise presented with emotional distress. Funded by the Department of Health this development phase will be delivered in key areas across London (Hackney, Hounslow, Enfield and Newham), and piloted nationally. Pro-Active Minds will utilise a sustainable volunteer-led, peer support model within an ecotherapy setting based on a framework of Five Ways to Wellbeing.

Love it! You always feel so much better after being out in the fresh air, getting your hands dirty... you always have a good laugh!

Roisin from the Benedy Gardening Club Green Gym

Tempted to try it out? Why not join in with one of TCV's 100 Green Gyms across the country, get fit, meet new people and transform your local environment and community.

Sponsor a Green Gym

Would your organisation like to help the local community by setting up a brand new Green Gym? Or would you like to support one of our established Green Gyms?

TCV has a range of flexible corporate sponsorship options for organisations who would like to work with us.

Sponsor a Green Gym

Download our Green Gym brochure

The scaling up of Green Gyms across the country is being supported by Nesta and the Cabinet Office, through the Centre for Social Action Innovation Fund. The Centre for Social Action Innovation Fund supports the growth of innovations that mobilise people’s energy and talents to help each other, working alongside public services. See more at www.nesta.org.uk/project/centre-social-action-innovation-fund

Cabinet Office logoNesta logo

Green Gym is an internationally registered trade mark of TCV, the community volunteering charity. Please contact greengym@tcv.org.uk to discuss using the Green Gym logo and licensing opportunities.