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Canadians want to spend 18 hours a week outdoors, study finds

Various industry studies show that Canadians plan to go on road trips this summer, but more than anything they want to spend more time in nature, according to a new survey commissioned by Mazda Canada.

The survey reveals that 90% of Canadians agree it is “great” for their mental and physical health. This comes as time spent in nature decreased per week since the onset of COVID-19 (seven hours per week, down from 10 hours pre-pandemic), although Canadians plan to spend 18 hours a week outdoors this summer.

“Our survey found that 70% of respondents say they lack motivation or don’t have the time, which is a common COVID-19 theme I’m seeing,” said Nicole Porter, Stress Coach and Wellness Educator, and partner for Mazda Canada. “However, what I’ve found in my practice is that when people get outside and spend time in nature, it can have a major impact on their mental health and overall happiness.”

Among the reasons Canadians spend less time in nature during the pandemic includes a lack of motivation (35%), and not having enough time (35%).

The study also indicates that 87% of Canadians agree that being in nature reduces their stress levels, and 68% said it increases their productivity. Furthermore, walking or hiking is the most popular outdoor activity among survey respondents (81%).

Canadians who identify as female indicated they are more enthusiastic about spending time in nature than those who identify as male. They are also more likely to enjoy outdoor recreation activities like walking or hiking (85%), going out on a lake, river or ocean (54%), and picnics (51%).

Mazda Canada said there are a number of health benefits to being immersed in nature, and that in Japan, this concept is called shinrin-yoku or “forest bathing,” and is considered an antidote to the “high-tech, always-on culture” of today.

“Given the last year we’ve had, it makes sense that this survey shows Canadians are ready to get out into nature,” said Sandra Lemaitre, Director of Public Relations at Mazda Canada. “Being in nature is like putting your foot on the brake, and when it comes to our health, our bodies are relying on us to slow down more often.”

There are a number of benefits to spending time in nature, including improving the quality of sleep, helping to reduce stress, and improving a person’s focus and productivity.

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