More than a third (38%) of UK adults spend less than an hour outside each day, negatively impacting their mental and physical health, according to research from Bupa.
The main barriers preventing people from getting outdoors are not having enough free time (15%) and having a busy job (13%), the insurer found.
The health benefits of spending time in outdoor spaces, include a better mood, reduced stress and anger, improved self-esteem and being more active.
The study found that more than half of people (52%) do not have access to a park within walking distance and one in eight (12%) lived over an hour away from one.
But even then, parks may be less than desirable, with many people saying their local green space was unkept (30%), run down (26%) or overcrowded (23%) – with these issues more acute for city-dwellers.
This lack of outdoor space has a knock-on impact on health.
Nearly half of people say their mental (47%) or physical (47%) health suffered if they spent too much time indoors and that they wanted to increase their time outside to two and a half hours to get the maximum benefit.
To help tackle the problem, Bupa is encouraging people to incorporate daily movement into their routines throughout June, with the launch of its Healthy Cities initiative.
The move is a part of Bupa’s global ambition to support one million people to improve their health each year by 2025, through restoring and regenerating nature.
“Our Healthy Cities challenge focuses on encouraging people to adopt long-term healthy habits, while preserving and regenerating our green spaces,” said Carlos Jaureguizar, CEO, Bupa Global & UK.
“The health benefits of spending time in nature have long been known, so this challenge seeks to remind people of these benefits to their overall wellness,” he said.
Bupa people, partners and customers will undertake a 30-day walking challenge to support fundraising for green initiatives and kick-start the habit of getting outdoors every day.
The aim is to unlock funding for the Bupa Foundation to donate up to £750,000 to help regenerate local green spaces across the country, including via its new Green Community Grant scheme.
Under the programme, schools, charities and not-for-profits can apply for grants of up to £2,500 each for green projects throughout June.