Exercise in a Garden Gym

By Charlie Nardozzi

Gardeners naturally spend lots of time outdoors. But just because they're outdoors doesn't necessarily mean they're getting the right kind of exercise. A group in England is trying to change that.

The British Trust for Conservation Volunteers coordinates volunteer groups helping with environmental restoration projects across the island. In 1997 they started the 'Green Gym' movement. The idea is to improve the environment and gardeners' health at the same time. Volunteers meet weekly for 1 to 4 hours to do various conservation projects, such as planting trees, trimming hedges, and clearing trails. The conservation leaders not only coordinate the work, they also lead the volunteers in exercises. They take volunteers through a series of warm-up and cool-down exercises to help them get a complete workout from the gardening activity.

The Trust estimates gardeners burn one-third more calories in an hour of green gym activities compared to an hour doing step aerobics in the gym. Plus, it's a productive way to relieve stress. Participants get a good workout, and Great Britain gets a well-managed public landscape.

There are Green Gym programs in more than 65 cities in England. For more information on this innovative program, go to: British Trust for Conservation Volunteers .

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