Cost of living

A third of Brits have stopped swimming because of the cost of living

A new study has revealed that 37% of the UK have stopped swimming regularly due to the cost of living. This is despite findings that nine in 10 Brits feel positive benefits being in or near water.

A new study has revealed that 37% of the UK have stopped swimming regularly due to the cost of living. This is despite findings that nine in 10 Brits (89%) feel positive benefits being near water, whether that is improving their mental health, lifting their mood, or calming their anxiety.

In fact, one in 10 Brits said being in or around blue spaces has even benefited their personal lives and fixed relationship issues, while 27% of the UK said they sleep better afterwards.

Importance of blue spaces

This new research comes from leisure operator Better, who surveyed 2,006 people to highlight the importance of blue spaces in our communities at a time where local pools are feeling the squeeze.

The study showed that 37% of Brits believe the cost of living is stopping them from swimming more, as well as one in five saying pool closures and cutbacks have also reduced their pool availability.

Blue spaces were found to be particularly important in the survey, with 55% saying that being in or around water improved their mood, and two in five stating it specifically improves their mental health (41%) and calms their anxiety (39%). The study also revealed a quarter of the UK wish they lived closer to blue spaces and a further 42% said that they actively look for a place to live by some form of water.

The need for accessible blue spaces is underlined by the results showing that over half (55%) of 16-24 year olds say they suffer with mental health problems, reducing to 51% among 25-34 year olds. This halves for the 55+ age category with 24% saying they struggle with anxiety or depression. Nevertheless the findings highlight the importance that blue and green spaces play in tackling the nation’s mental health crisis.

Calming waters

In fact, the research showed one in three of us feel most calm and happy when walking by a body of water, whether that be a lake, canal or the sea. This came second only to spending time with friends and family. Further recognition of the value of blue spaces came with one in 10 feeling most calm swimming, whether that be in the sea (11%) or in a pool or lido (10%).

Overall spending time with family and friends was the top priority for respondents, however the 55yrs+ demographic would rather spend time by bodies of water (43%).

Social prescribing

Better spoke to Jasmine Breaker-Rolfe who was diagnosed with anxiety and depression at aged 14 and was prescribed exercise as way of improving her mental health:

“I had counselling and they recommended exercise to help. I was given time on a Friday morning to swim with my auntie, which really helped as it gave me time to completely zone out and have space. I always enjoyed swimming and going with my auntie to help my anxiety.

“Swimming pools are incredibly important for mental and physical health, and they also teach life saving skills to people. I would recommend swimming to anyone suffering with their mental health.”

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Abi writes swimming news stories and features for the Outdoor Swimmer website and manages the social media channels. She loves to swim, run, hike and SUP close to her home in Herefordshire. While she’s a keen wild swimmer, Abi is new to the world of open water events and recently completed her first open water mile. She has previously written for The Guardian, BBC Countryfile Magazine, BBC History Magazine and Ernest Journal.