Two in Five Brits say Blue Spaces Improve their Mental Health

Published on: May 2nd 2023

A recent survey by Charitable Trust GLL has revealed that two in five Brits say blue swim spaces improve their mental health.

The survey of 2,000 people by the company’s Better brand, conducted to understand what effect green and blue spaces had on people physical and mental health, also found: 

  • More than a quarter (27%) of those surveyed sleep better after time around water.
  • 86% of the respondents said they are less than a 30-minute walk away from a blue or green space.
  • 89% feel positive benefits from spending time around blue spaces.

Blue spaces were found to be particularly important to the UK with 55% of respondents saying that being in or around water improved their mood, and two in five stating it specifically improves their mental health (41%) and calms their anxiety (39%). 

The study also revealed a quarter of the UK wish they lived closer to blue spaces and a further 42% said that they actively look for a place to live by some form of water. 

Over half (55%) of 16-24 year olds say they suffer from anxiety or depression.

The need for accessible blue spaces is underlined by the results showing that over half (55%) of 16-24 year olds say they suffer with mental health problems, reducing to 51% among 25-34 year olds. 

This halves for the 55+ age category with only 24% saying they struggle with anxiety or depression.  Nevertheless the findings highlight the importance that blue and green spaces play in tackling the nation’s mental health crisis.

In fact, the research showed one in three people feel most calm and happy when walking by a body of water, whether that be a lake, canal or the sea. This came second only to spending time with friends and family. 

Further recognition of the value of blue spaces came with one in 10 feeling most calm swimming, whether that be in the sea (11%) or in a pool or lido (10%). Interestingly, the UK would also rather take a nice bath over watching a series on Netflix.

Green spaces are highly valued too with a quarter of those surveyed saying they feel most calm exploring a wood or forest, while a quarter cited visiting a park or garden (24%). One in five women are most calm when planting or gardening.

Overall spending time with family and friends was the top priority for respondents, however the 55yrs+ demographic would rather spend time by bodies of water (43%).

Better spoke to Jasmine Breaker-Rolfe who was diagnosed with anxiety and depression at aged 14 and was prescribed exercise as way of improving her mental health:

“I had counseling and they recommended exercise to help. I was given time on a Friday morning to swim with my Auntie which really helped as it gave me time to completely zone out and have space. I always enjoyed swimming and going with my auntie to help my anxiety. 

“Swimming pools are incredibly important for mental and physical health, and they also teach life saving skills to people. I would recommend swimming to anyone suffering with their mental health. It really helped.”