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Are you spending less time in nature?

January 07, 20242 min read

Are you spending less time in nature?

If so, you're not alone.

Did you know that an estimated 1.1 million fewer people across the UK spent less time in nature in 2022 compared with two years earlier?

Remember how everyone was outdoors during the pandemic?  Mostly because, for a while, it seemed like it was the only thing we were allowed to do.  Official ONS survey data for 2009 to 2018 show that the number of visits to nature, and time spent in it, rose over the decade.  Good news in that so many more people gained the significant health benefits arising from this.

But after a peak during the pandemic, people are now making fewer visits to nature and are spending less time there, as much as 15% less.  In fact, people across the UK made 855 million fewer outdoor recreation visits in 2022 than they did in 2020.  This has led to 567 million fewer hours being spent during and travelling to and from these visits over the period – equivalent to around 10 hours per person in the UK on average.

That's a lot!

As we know, spending time in nature can have a positive effect on health and well-being, with studies showing links between time spent outdoors with reduced anxiety, stress and improved self esteem.  And that doesn't even touch on the physical health benefits of being active outdoors!  In fact one study found that people who spend an average of two hours or more per week in nature over a year are more likely to report being in good, or very good health.

So why the decline?

Well, the research suggests the most common reasons are bad or poor weather, being busy at work or at home, or because of poorer physical health.  The latter is interesting because it poses the question, could spending time outdoors help improve those health issues?  We know that time spent in nature can have a positive impact with as little as 15 minutes a day.  And the busy thing...  Yes, we are busier than ever but could this be a question of prioritising our health a little more?  Or maybe using the habit stacking technique to  add some time outdoors to an already busy day?  Then there's the weather issue.  Well, we all know that there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing!

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Want to feel better?

Have some time to yourself?

Enjoy better mental health?

Did you know you can do this in as little as 15 minutes a day?

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