South West Coast Path found to boost mental health

PUBLISHED: 16:00 19 July 2020 | UPDATED: 09:15 23 July 2020

A survey has suggested walking along the coast path is good for people's mental health. Ref shs 18-16SH 0065. Picture: Simon Horn.

A survey has suggested walking along the coast path is good for people's mental health. Ref shs 18-16SH 0065. Picture: Simon Horn.

Archant

A new survey has showed the South West Coast Path helped provide a positive mental health boost during the coronavirus pandemic.

Walking the coastal footpath is good for mental health, according to a survey. Picture: Chris CarsonWalking the coastal footpath is good for mental health, according to a survey. Picture: Chris Carson

The survey was conducted by the South West Coast Path Association (SWCPA) and nearly 80 per cent of the 1,000 respondents said they felt more positive after walking on the coast path.

57 per cent said they feel able to sleep better and 62 per cent felt inspired to be more active.

Respondents were asked ‘What does the Coast Path mean to you?’ and the answers ranged from being emotionally refreshed to reducing stress and improving physical and mental health.

The findings coincide with a national survey by Natural England in May where the large majority of adults agreed that green and natural spaces are good places for mental health and wellbeing (89 per cent) and places that encourage physical health and exercise (83 per cent).

Coastal footpath walking can help people's mental health, says a survey. Ref exe 21 19TI 1020176. Picture: Terry IfeCoastal footpath walking can help people's mental health, says a survey. Ref exe 21 19TI 1020176. Picture: Terry Ife

SWCPA say that the coast path, along with other national trail, act as a ‘Natural Health Service’ and they say it is estimated walking trails save the NHS £167 million a year and that the South West Coast Path in particular saved £40 million.

That is the equivalent of £63,000 for every mile of the 630-mile route.

Director of the SWCPA, Julian Gray, said: “Since lockdown, more people than ever are choosing to visit the coast path to reconnect with nature. We are already looking at how we can better support those who are new to this type of activity to ensure they have the information and confidence they need to enjoy and respect these spaces fully.

“We hope that people maintain these new healthy habits and that with them, comes a renewed appreciation of the power of being active in nature for our health. Some are predicting the psychological impacts of living through a pandemic to be significant and long-lasting, so as a society, connecting up our ‘Natural Health Service’ with our NHS will be more important than ever”.

Walker on the South West Coast Path in North Devon, overlooking Valley of the Rock. Picture: Greg Jeanneau.Walker on the South West Coast Path in North Devon, overlooking Valley of the Rock. Picture: Greg Jeanneau.

The coast path was also recently named the favourite of the 16 national trails in England and Wales in a nationwide poll.


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