How spending time outdoors can boost your health, energy and productivity | The Sun

PEOPLE who spend more time outside are healthier, more energetic and more productive than those who do not, a survey shows.

People who spend 20 hours or more per week in a green or natural space were 41 per cent more productive on an average day than those spending less than 30 minutes a week outside.

Three quarters of all adults claim time in nature or green spaces gives them a boost of happiness that keeps them going all day.

The study of 2,000 adults showed 79 per cent said it also makes them feel healthier and more energetic.

A clearer mind (44 per cent), sleeping more soundly (28 per cent) and feeling less stressed (38 per cent) are also among the top health benefits people reported from getting outdoors – as well as feeling better physically and mentally (70 per cent).

Whereas those spending more time than they would like indoors often feel sluggish (37 per cent), tired (25 per cent) and isolated (16 per cent).

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The study was commissioned by the Greener Communities Fund, a partnership between Hubbub, NHS Charities Together and Starbucks.

It follows a 2022 study by charity, The National Academy for Social Prescribing, which found spending time in nature can benefit long term health and wellbeing.

While 2020 research by Public Health England found it can even help reduce the pressure on the NHS.

Louise McCathie, director of fundraising at NHS Charities Together, said: “People not only feel better when they visit outside spaces, they work and play better too.

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“And as well as helping us connect with the natural world, outdoor experiences provide a much-needed chance to decompress – and can make a huge difference to our overall health.

“The Greener Communities Fund is a new, multi-million pound fund, helping local NHS charities to create more green spaces across the UK – and improve the nation's health in the process.

“By establishing new community spaces and increasing access to nature, we’re hoping to boost the wellbeing of the UK public, while helping our environment and the NHS at the same time.”

The study also found that as well as feeling healthier, those who spend more time in nature are more likely to adopt behaviours that are good for the environment.

These behaviours include eating a more plant-based diet (18 per cent), choosing to walk or cycle rather than driving (31 per cent) and recycling more (55 per cent).

But 54 per cent said their attitude to the environment had been influenced by spending time outdoors and 13 per cent even started picking up litter on their walks.

And two thirds said spending time outdoors makes them take more care of their wellbeing, with 46 per cent feeling relaxed and 42 per cent being calmer and brighter.

The study, carried out via OnePoll, also revealed the best things about being outside are fresh air (64 per cent), the scenery (47 per cent) and seeing animals and wildlife (46 per cent).

Noticing the change in seasons was a favourite for 35 per cent, while 11 per cent loved wrapping up in a warm coat.

Yet despite enjoying being outside, lack of access to green areas and attractive parks was a barrier to spending more time in nature for one in 10.

While 19 per cent felt they didn’t have time to head outside more often and eight per cent didn’t feel safe enough.

And of those who spend the least time outdoors each week, 34 per cent said having better access to an area of natural beauty would encourage them to spend more time in the open air.

Greener Communities Fund spokesperson, Louise McCathie, added: “The more time we spend in nature, the more we all benefit – and it’s so important that everyone gets that chance.

“Our hope is that this fund will give everyone better access to outdoor spaces, and especially those who have limited access currently.

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“That includes hospital staff, patients and visitors, people living in urban areas, and some community groups.

“Funded by proceeds from the Starbucks 5p cup charge, new spaces will soon be cropping up across the UK – we can’t wait for everyone to be able to enjoy them.”

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