The Green Gym is a health initiative offering individuals an outdoor alternative to conventional gyms – the opportunity to increase their physical activity levels through direct involvement in practical conservation activities.
The Conservation Volunteers believe that local people must be involved in order for environmental improvements to be sustainable. We believe that everyone has the ability to get actively involved in looking after their local environment. The Green Gym engages communities in identifying the problems and solutions. Providing the appropriate support and training, the Green Gym equips people with knowledge, skills and confidence to achieve their vision of a better environment.
The broad goals underpinning this approach include tackling social exclusion, tackling inequalities in health and social wellbeing and creating environments that will help people maintain good health and wellbeing. The Government is committed to attacking the root causes of ill health and poor social health and well-being. There is mounting evidence of links between people’s health and wellbeing and their environment. Research has shown that the Green Gym is a simple way to improve your own health directly through the practical activity and improve the quality of life for everyone who uses the enhanced environment. The regular practical task based nature of the Green Gym increases participant’s physical activity levels, sufficiently to benefit their health.
The physical and mental health problems compounded by a sedentary lifestyle are well publicised, affecting a high percentage of Northern Ireland’s population each year. The Green Gym promotes a positive health message, creating a safe environment for people to exercise – without exercising in the traditional sense of the word. Taking the first steps to increasing physical activity through the Green Gym, with a retention rate of over 90%, Green Gym participants remain committed and increase their physical activity levels at a pace that suits them. Building in a healthy eating message and direct involvement in creating herb beds and fruit and vegetable gardens, a complete health message is portrayed to participants.
The Conservation Volunteers’ Green Gym offers regular sessions of conservation activities in accordance with health & safety guidelines. Experienced leaders provide training in practical skills and encourage people to work according to their own capabilities. Green Gyms are open to people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities.