New research by Keep Britain Tidy has found only 32% of the population are getting their ‘20-minutes-a-day’ to give them the two-hour-a-week minimum ‘dose’ of time, recently recommended by researchers at the University of Exeter Medical School as the crucial amount of time to spend in nature to help improve mental wellbeing.
The extensive study of 2,000 adults found that 85% of people experience a positive effect on their mental state after spending time outside in a green space.
Despite this, 8% of us have not visited a green space in the past month and a further 7% can’t remember the last time they did, even though more than half (53%) of us live within a mile of our local park.
This news comes as a record number of parks and green spaces - 1,970 in total - are awarded a Green Flag, the international quality mark for parks and green spaces. The Green Flag Award is a sign of a well-managed, clean and safe park, as the same research reveals that parks being clean and well managed is one of the most important qualities people look for – as well as it being nearby to where they live.
More than three quarters (77%) of people say they would actively avoid a park if it was poorly maintained or felt unsafe, showing the importance of schemes such as the Green Flag Award to set the quality standard.
However, in Keep Britain Tidy’s annual Love Parks Week celebration, (12- 21 July 2019) it is encouraging to see that the park came out at number two (13%) when those taking part in the study were asked about where they spend the most time outside, beaten to the top spot by shopping (15%). Hopefully not for single use plastic packaged items.
Keep Britain Tidy’s Chief Executive Allison Ogden-Newton said: “We have awarded more Green Flags to parks and green spaces this year than ever before, which means beautiful, well-managed and peaceful spaces are accessible to more people than ever. But our message is use it or lose it. Not only does visiting your local park boost your mental health but your visit supports the Herculean effort made by local authorities to provide world-class parks and that has never been harder to do.
“With around 27,000 parks and greenspaces across England alone Green Flag standard parks are still the exception but the number of awards given out this year is a testament to the hard work and innovation displayed by many local authorities.
“Indeed, Keep Britain Tidy wants to see many more meet the Green Flag Award standards creating a national network of quality parks and green spaces on people’s doorsteps, inspiring more of us to get our ‘20 a day’.
“If you want to boost your wellbeing even more, you could take it one step further and get involved in your local park by joining its friends’ group. Being part of a community goal, while spending time outside, can give a real sense of pride and positivity. We’ve seen it with many of our volunteer groups over the years.”
The Green Flag Award scheme recognises and rewards well-managed parks and green spaces, setting the benchmark standard for the management of recreational outdoor spaces across the United Kingdom and around the world.
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