The Green Gym – fore runner to the Blue Gym
Origins and development
The Green Gym concept was originally developed in the late 1990s by Dr William Bird an Oxford-based GP and BTCV. The first pilot was held in 1997. By 2006 there were 55 projects across the United Kingdom with an estimated 6,000 people taking part. The programme has received support from central government, and won a Charity Award in 2005.
 Green Gym sessions
 What happens
Green Gym groups meet at least once a week and do between 1 and 4 hours practical conservation or gardening work. All participants are Volunteers. Over two-thirds have never taken part in environmental conservation work before. Examples of the types of work undertaken include coppicing, clearing scrubland, path building, tree-planting or digging on an allotment.
The group usually meets at the project site. Sessions include a refreshment break and a chance to socialise. Activities are led by a qualified leader, and a session will typically run as follows:
‘Tool Talk’ – the safe handling and correct use of tools are discussed
Warm up – exercises to prepare muscles for activity and reduce the risk of injury
Gather up tools
Cool down – exercises to prevent stiffness
 Health benefits
Both physical and psychological benefits are claimed for people who attend Green Gym sessions regularly.
In 1999 and 2001, The School of Health and Social Care at Oxford Brookes University independently evaluated the Green Gym projects in Oxfordshire and East Sussex, England and identified the following benefits from Green Gym tasks:
significant improvements in cardiovascular fitness, provided that they are performed regularly.
improved muscular strength (as measured by handgrip strength) leading to increased coping ability and reduced risk of functional limitations in later life.
almost a third more calories can be burnt in an hour of some Green Gym activities than in doing a step aerobics class.
a significant improvement in the Mental Health Component Score in the first 3 months of participation (as measured by the SF-12 health-related quality of life instrument).
a strong trend in the decrease in depression scores during the same time period.
waist-to-hip ratio decrease in the first three months.
The Green Gym is viewed by participants as being beneficial to their mental health and wellbeing.
^ Department for Communities and Local Government – Special Grants Programme 
^ Charity Awards 2005, Animals and the Environment
^ Natural Fit: Can Green Space and Biodiversity Increase Levels of Physical Activity? A Report by Dr William Bird for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, 2004
^ The Green Gym: An Evaluation of a Pilot Project in Sonning Common, Oxfordshire Reynolds, Veronica, Oxford Brookes University, 1999, Research Report No. 8, ISBN No: 1 902606 05 1
^ Well-being Comes Naturally: An Evaluation of the BTCV Green Gym at Portslade, East Sussex Reynolds, Veronica, Oxford Brookes University, 2002, Research Report no: 17, ISBN No: 1 902606 15 9