Utne Blogs > Environment

Greenies Exercise at Green Gyms

by Kari Volkmann-Carlsen 


Tags: Environment, Green Living, International, Green Gyms, BTCV, Ecologist, exercise, conservation volunteerism,

Plant a TreeNo, I don’t mean on an energy-efficient treadmill. Get a wild workout the good old-fashioned way—doing chores. According to Nicolette Loizou of the Ecologist (article not available online), Green Gyms, which are gaining popularity in the UK, revolve around the idea of conservation and gardening volunteerism as a workout. The UK now has 95 Green Gyms, where you can expend your calories while nurturing the great outdoors.

BTCV, a charitable environmental organization in Doncaster, UK, began its Green Gym 10 years ago. More than 10,000 people have since volunteered to improve local green spaces, as well as their own fitness. Typical tasks can be anything from digging soil and planting trees to sawing logs for building a sheep enclosure. And just like a workout routine with a personal trainer, BTCV leads groups in pre-workout warm-up exercises.

Aside from the obvious benefits of improving physical health and our natural surroundings, participants felt that the skills they learned helped to improve their mental health, self-esteem and confidence, reports Loizou.

A single Green Gym session usually lasts around three hours—for free. So instead of hiking it across spinning rubber, grab a shovel and dig—a tree is waiting to be planted. Exercise never felt so worthwhile.

(Thanks, Ecologist.)

Image by alexindigo, licensed under Creative Commons.