The Most Popular Activities Brits Would Like to Try To Give Their Mental Health A Boost

From sailing to archery and from ballooning to rock climbing, here is the top ten activities that researchers have found the most desirable to give one’s mental health a boost.

What does the research tell us?

Research of 2,000 adults revealed 54% are desperate to spend more quality time outdoors, though 44% don’t think they’ll realistically be outside anymore this year than last.  And 76% believe a new pastime in the great outdoors would benefit their mental and physical health, with 40% feeling more “alive” when in open green space.

While 60% believed such an interest would push them to spend more time in natural sunlight, and 58% think breathing clean air can only be a good thing.

The research was commissioned by Volvic ahead of launching a one-of-a-kind competition to win a stay at the Chaîne des Puys, at the heart of the brand’s water source, which will include an adrenaline-fuelled itinerary to experience the outdoors like never before.

It also emerged more than a third (34%) of respondents don’t believe they get a good balance of time indoors and outdoors. Though, 55% rated themselves as an ‘outdoorsy’ person, with 34% having hiked, 33% run, and 18% mountain biked in the last 12 months.

And 63% want to challenge themselves both physically and mentally in the next 12 months, according to the data from While 67% rated being outdoors in nature as something that boosted their mental health most, ahead of reading or talking to loved ones.

As well as the mental health benefits, 65% have seen a noticeable improvement in their physical health as a result of getting out in the great outdoors.

Other desired activities

The list of activities that those polled revealed they would like to try was varied, to say the least. While some involved more sedate, health-driven activities, others were more adrenaline-fuelled.  However, the common denominator amongst the ten most popular activities identified was that they all largely take place outdoors.

In no particular order, the ten most popular activities identified by the research included –

  1. Sailing
  2. Archery
  3. Hot air ballooning
  4. Canoeing
  5. Paddleboarding
  6. Horse riding
  7. Wild swimming
  8. Hiking
  9. Rock climbing
  10. Rowing


The evidence is clear

There are so many benefits from outdoor activities that it would be tricky to write about them all here.  That said, let’s take a quick recap on the major benefits.

We understand more these days about why escaping to the great outdoors feels so good. A mechanism in the brain allows nature to change our perception of things. It’s called the amygdala. This is suggested in a study from a few years ago.

The amygdala is the region of the nervous system responsible for the control of emotions and feelings. This is logical because it is in a privileged position that allows it to establish connections with many different parts of the brain.

One of these regions is the frontal lobe, which explains why the amygdala inhibits behavior and decision-making. The amygdala is also involved in other activities, such as controlling our eating (as it is responsible for the feeling of satiety, or how well-fed we are), managing fear and stress, structuring memories, regulating sexual behavior, and controlling aggression.

The essence of fear is survival. This portion of the brain also helps us survive by avoiding dangerous situations because it continually reviews the information provided by our senses, instantly detecting what may affect our survival (whether real or not).

Once that threat is identified, it develops a response that moves us away from risk, and our probability of survival increases. All of the benefits from outdoor activities give the amygdala a boost and have consequential benefits set out above.

Further reading

As we have reported previously on My Mind News, the outdoor element of these is key. Over the past few months, we have reported on such topics as –

5 Simple Habits To Boost Men’s Mental Health And Overall Wellbeing –

Why seaside walks are good for you this winter  –

The mental health benefits of going on vacation –

How A Walk In Nature Can Improve Our Mental Health –

What would be on your desirable activity list? Are there any in the list above that you would like to try or indeed have tried? Let us know in the comments.


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