· Brits spending time outdoors to benefit their mental health almost as much as their physical health

· 45% of Brits say they spend time being active outdoors to maintain their mental health

· More than a third (36%) of Brits want a ‘digital detox’ from their screens

Ahead of World Mental Health Day (Sunday 10 October), new data from the National Outdoor Centre, Plas y Brenin suggests almost half (45%) of Brits are spending time being active outdoors to maintain their mental health.

While being active in the outdoors is often associated with improving physical health – and a motivating factor for more than half (54%) of Brits – it now seems a similar number are turning to the outdoors to look after their mental health.

After an extraordinarily difficult 18 months, the pandemic has left more than a third (36%) of Brits wanting to take a “digital detox” and enjoy time away from their phones, laptops and computers.

Multiple lockdowns, redundancies and health concerns has taken its toll with almost a third (32%) of Brits saying they spend time outdoors to distract themselves from the stresses of life.

Being confined indoors – and with the home often becoming a place of work and for home schooling – it’s unsurprising that 18% of adults say they are active outdoors to take a break from work while 39% say they do it to escape ‘cabin fever’ after spending long periods inside.

As people seek to both look after and entertain themselves during pandemic there has been an increase in the number of Brits being active outdoors. Almost a third (32%) of Brits have tried an outdoor activity for the first time since the initial national lockdown in March 2020.

Going for long distance walks is the most popular outdoor activity with almost 9 million Brits (or 17% of adults) trying it for the first time, followed by running (10%) and cycling (7%). Meanwhile 4% have tried climbing and 3% outdoor swimming.

Helen Barnard, Chief Instructor at Plas y Brenin, the National Outdoor Centre, commented: “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.”