Almost two thirds of people, 63%, reported a decrease in time spent visiting green spaces following movement restrictions in the original lockdown period, which began on 23rd March 2020.
Inequalities in green space use were also sustained, and may even have been exacerbated, as a result of lockdowns and restrictions of movement in the UK due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
New research, led by the University of Glasgow MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, and published today in BMJ Open, finds that those from a more socially disadvantaged background were a third less likely to visit green spaces before, and more than two thirds less likely to visit them after restrictions were enforced. Adults over 65 years-old also reported visiting green spaces less often after restrictions were in place than their middle aged counterparts.
Overall, 93% of all respondents had visited green space in the year before movement restrictions were enforced. However, in contrast, only 53% reported visiting green space following pandemic restrictions being put in place.
The research highlighted that spending time in green space benefited mental health. Two thirds of respondents reported that green spaces benefited their mental health more following restrictions on movement compared to before. Female respondents were most likely to agree that visiting green space benefitted their mental health following the introduction of COVID-19 restrictions.