Green gyms: the benefits of plants in gyms


As a gym owner, you may have already heard of Green Gyms, the outdoor programme that encourages people to get outside, and improve their health and fitness outside of a conventional gym setting. This involves taking part in a series of activities that also benefit the environment, such as building benches, constructing fences, planting trees, and regenerating ponds.

One main advantage of attending a ‘Green Gym’ is that people can give back to their local community, while still being physically active and improving their fitness levels. Doing exercise outside in this way also provides the ‘biophilic effect’; this term describes the innate connection people have with nature, and the positive effects plants can have on your mood, health, and basic cognitive function.

As a result, we (as human beings) have a biological need to remain in close contact with it.

However, it’s not just Green Gyms that allow you to reap the full benefits of plants. In fact, gym owners can still give their premises a ‘biophilic feel’ through the way it’s decorated! As well as bringing a range of plants into the building, you can incorporate a more natural colour scheme (with blues, greens, and browns) and natural materials (such as wood and marble) into the design.

It’s a known fact that plants have a positive effect on humans, and their presence is highly encouraged in offices, schools, and hospitals. However, what are the main benefits of plants in gyms?

Plants increase your productivity

Plants are known for being great mood boosters and de-stressers. According to a 2010 study, bringing plants into an office was able to reduce feelings of tension and anxiety by around 37%, depression by 58%, anger by 44%, and fatigue by 38%. As CIPHR explains, this is because they add colour and interest to a room’s design, and can enable us to feel more comfortable in our surroundings.

They don’t just make you feel happier, however; plants can also increase your productivity levels. This is because they absorb background noise, as well as toxins in the air that cause headaches, and general aches and pains. As a result, plants can improve your concentration.

This is highly beneficial for gymgoers as they’ll be more motivated to attend gym sessions and classes, as well as put more effort into their workouts and get more from them!

Benefits of plants in gyms and fitness centresPlants lower CO2 levels in the air

One of the biggest advantages of indoor plants is that they improve air quality by reducing mold, dust, and bacteria levels, as well as removing formaldehyde, ammonia, benzene, and other toxins which are present in a number of everyday materials (such as paper towels, paper bags, and cleaning products). Although generally harmless, these can make you feel unwell if you come into contact with them in a building with poor ventilation.

As gyms and fitness centres tend to be full of moist air (from their pools, saunas, and shower facilities), they’re likely to have more mold in the air. Gym equipment also emits carbon dioxide (CO2), and levels of this can be raised further the more people there are in one room exercising.

Plants reduce CO2, with studies finding that having a ratio of just 1 plant per 3 people could halve the levels in the air. This makes plants a great edition to any gym!

Plants boost your immune system

It has been proven that because plants reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, they can also aid hospital patients in their recovery. In fact, Roger Ulrich’s study discovered that of a group of patients recovering from gallbladder surgery, those that had a view of trees from a window healed faster than those that did not.

As gymgoers need to be able to recover from workouts quickly, indoor plants should be present to aid in their healing, as well as boost their immune system.

Additionally, according to a study published in 2007, people who regularly took two-hour walks in the forest had a 50% increase in ‘natural killer cells’ that fight harmful bacteria, fungus, and viruses. This makes indoor plants especially useful in a gym or fitness centre where poor ventilation, high levels of humidity, and large volumes of people mean germs spread fast!