Plas y Brenin, The National Outdoor Centre, a world-renowned provider of outdoors and adventure sports training has found that the motivation for Brits spending active time outdoors, is now equally for their mental health as well as their physical health.

They report that 45% of Brits have found that time spent active in the outdoors helps to maintain their mental health

Plas y Brenin , The National Outdoor Centre attribute this change in attitude to the pandemic, saying that a mixture of lockdowns, redundancies and health concerns have lead to 36% of Brits to wanting to take a “digital detox” as well as 32% saying active time outdoors helped to distract themselves from the stresses of life.

Other contributing factors mentioned were the switch to home working and home schooling, where they reported 18% of adults took a break from their workday by getting active outside, while 39% were found to get outside to “escape cabin fever” in the midst of long periods inside.

As a testament to just how many more Brits are looking to the outdoors to improve both their mental and physical wellbeing, the research also found that almost a third (32%) of Brits tried an outdoor activity for the first time in the time since the initial national lockdown in March 2020.

The most popular physical outdoor activities were:

  • long distance walks
  • running
  • cycling
  • climbing
  • outdoor swimming

Helen Barnard, Chief Instructor at Plas y Brenin, the National Outdoor Centre has said:

“For many Brits, being active outdoors is just as important to maintaining their mental health as their physical health. It’s an understatement to say that the last 18 months have taken their toll on the nation’s wellbeing, and many of us have had to forgo a break. The effects of the pandemic will be felt for a long time to come but being active, spending time outdoors and in nature has multiple benefits to health and wellbeing. Regardless of individual fitness levels or ability, the outdoors is for everyone, and it has the power to help us emerge from the pandemic happier and healthier.”

These sentiments from Barnard echo those from the Mental Health Foundation during Mental Health Awareness Week this year, where the theme was ‘nature’. For World Mental Health Day on the 10th of October, the theme is ‘Mental Health in an Unequal World’. Unfortunately, we live in a world and in a country where many people who would most benefit from time in the outdoors, do not have access to it.

In light of these promising findings from Plas y Brenin, the National Outdoor Centre it seems the recovery of our nation’s mental health absolutely must include pushes for green therapy, social prescribing and outdoor activities with a focus on getting those from inner city environments out to green spaces.