The positive mental health and wellbeing benefits of green and blue spaces
Natural environments, access to green (gardens, parks, forests, nature) and blue (lakes, rivers, oceans) spaces, have long been recognised as being good for mental health. They provide a place to relax and leave daily stress behind, a place to spend time with family, a place to take part in a wide range of recreational activities.
In recent years, thanks in part to COVID lockdowns, we’ve come to appreciate being able to spend time in these green and blue spaces more. During lockdown these spaces became alternative places for social interaction and physical activity.
Wherever you live in the UK, you will have access to blue and green spaces, and the benefits mentioned above are just the tip of the iceberg. Utilising these spaces is also good for the finances – access to these spaces is completely free of charge. Being able to use these spaces for sports is good for your physical health as well as your mental wellbeing. Not to mention your use of these spaces can be good for the environment!
Many of us spend long hours at work – in offices, manufacturing facilities, retail outlets – all enclosed spaces with indoor lighting and limited daylight. It makes sense that we should use some of our free time to counteract the working day – a short walk at lunchtime, an extra 5 minute walk before work, a stroll through the park on the way home. At weekends, when we have more time, we can visit local parks, open gardens, nature reserves, beaches or country parks.
Here are some useful resources for finding things to do in local blue or green spaces
The Ramblers is Britain’s walking charity working to protect and expand the places people love to walk and promote walking for health and pleasure.
There are 15 National Parks in the UK, which are completely free of charge to visit.
Time Outdoors have a hundreds of clubs across the UK for running, cycling, walking, swimming and triathlons – something for everyone!
There are over 1500 beaches to visit around the UK, you are very far from the coast. Check our Countryfile’s list of Britains’s best beaches:
Or TimeOut’s list of the best beaches in the UK:
There are over 3,500 private gardens across the UK that are opened to the public each year. Most gardens open to everyone on set days, visit the National Open Garden Scheme website for details.
England and Wales have over 2,000 miles of level towpaths along some of the most beautiful canals.
inland Waterways Association have an interactive map of canal and river walks across England.
Bowls England are the governing body for lawn bowls in the UK. Lawn bowls is a sociable, accessible outdoor sport open to all. There are over 2000 clubs, so there is sure to be one near you.
Lawn tennis is a fun way to get outdoors, there are over 2700 clubs across the UK.
If you would like to know more about the effect that green and blue spaces have on mental health, the World Health Organisation produced a report: https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/342931/9789289055666-eng.pdf