Health and wellbeing benefits of walking on the South West Coast Path valued at over £75 million per year - University of Exeter

group of windswept walkers on footpath
SWCPA Couch to Coast Walking Group, at Jennycliff near Plymouth, Devon. (Photo credit Liberty Pearl Photography)

Latest research has calculated health and wellbeing benefits of over £75 million for people walking Britain’s longest National Trail. The figures were produced as part of research that assesses the health and wellbeing benefits of the South West Coast Path.

The report, commissioned by the South West Coast Path Association and undertaken by the University of Exeter, looked at different approaches to measuring the benefits of walking and spending time in green and blue spaces. Two methodologies were used to calculate the economic benefits, firstly to measure the number of premature deaths avoided by walking the Coast Path, and then a separate calculation to estimate the healthcare savings linked to a reduction in ill health and disease.

Author of the report, Dr Carolyn Petersen, based at the Centre for Rural Policy Research (CRPR) at the University of Exeter said: “Exercising outdoors, and the health and wellbeing benefits associated with being in natural environments have taken on a new importance, especially during the coronavirus pandemic when other activities have been severely limited. This report is timely and shows the important benefits of walking on the South West Coast Path for both physical, and mental health & wellbeing.”

The World Health Organisation’s Health Economic Assessment Tool (HEAT) was used to calculate the physical health benefits based on the number of premature deaths avoided. With over 9 million visits along the 630-mile long Coast Path a year, an estimated £69.1 million is saved in avoidable deaths. From this total, £5.5 million can be directly attributed to people walking on the National Trail who wouldn’t be walking elsewhere. The research also shows locals living within 10 miles of the South West Coast Path gain the greatest health and wellbeing benefits, valued at £2.8 million a year.

A full version of the report can be accessed here.

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Posted On: 05/02/2021

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