People working in a garden on a Green Gym

Health & Wellbeing

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Through the work of TCV, people 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, clearing play areas, sowing meadows and establishing wildlife ponds.

Unlike other conservation projects, there is a clear focus on improving health and fitness. Volunteers are led through a warm up in preparation for a range of light to vigorous activities to suit all abilities, and a cool down before heading off for the rest of their day.

Woman gathering leavesThe Department of Health and many GPs recognise the impact that Green Gyms can have on those who take part and GPs now prescribe Green Gym sessions to patients to encourage them to improve their health and wellbeing. TCV Green Gym sessions have been demonstrated to enhance mental wellbeing due to the social benefits of outdoor group activity, through increased contact with nature and the cheerful feeling we all get when we have contributed something positive to our community.

So not only do these sessions improve your health and stamina, they also benefit local green spaces and communities too.

Conservation work is my best workout each week

Green Gym volunteer

Find out more about Green Gym

Green Gyms are Growing

The demand for Green Gyms is growing in the UK with more groups emerging each year. With the reported drop in the nation’s physical activity, increasing issues of social isolation and the resulting health issues associated with these, Green Gyms provide opportunities for individuals to connect with nature and their community, giving them the chance to develop their skills and create wonderful green spaces for everyone to enjoy.

Social Prescribing

Social prescribing recognises how social, economic and environmental factors affect people’s health, where medication alone is unlikely to provide a sustainable improvement. It connects patients with support in their local community to help address their health issues holistically and give them greater control of their own health and wellbeing.

TCV’s Green Gym programme, now in its 20th year, is already part of the social prescribing approach, reflecting its positive impact on both physical health and mental wellbeing.

Because of our experience and strong links across the health, academic and the wider charitable sectors we have been chosen to lead a national programme on social prescribing working closely with the NHS, universities and community groups across the UK. This important work is funded by a National Lottery grant from the Big Lottery Fund.

Find out more about Social prescribing

Health Walks

People walking in the hillsTCV’s guided Health Walks are short, friendly walks lasting no longer than an hour. Anyone can join in. These walks are designed to encourage active lifestyles and would benefit anyone looking to improve their health and wellbeing.

The routes are easy, avoiding tricky terrain, steep hills and stiles where possible and our friendly, volunteer Walk Leaders are there to support you every step of the way.

Health Walks provide a pleasant way to gradually improve health and well-being and could be for you if you are recovering from illness or injury, getting little exercise or lacking in confidence and self-esteem. Having said that, the majority of walkers stay because they enjoy the social aspects of taking part and meeting new people! Our free Health Walks take place at various places around the country.

Find a Health Walk near you

TCV supports the 5 ways to wellbeing (developed by the New Economics Foundation)

Five ways to wellbeing graphic