Wednesday, 22 May 2019 11:06

New survey shows significant differences between UK and European hikers habits

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A new survey by Zurich-based research agency Sotomo surveyed 5,340 individuals in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, asking them about the day-to-day significance of nature for them and how they engage with it. The results show there are significant differences from mobile phone use to where people like to walk.

In all five countries, nature is extremely important for restoring emotional balance. Alongside the home, it is considered the best place in which to recover from stress.  While hiking and being active outdoors surrounded by nature are generally among the most popular activities across the countries surveyed respondents in the UK prefer to take things a little easier. After reading or watching TV, going for a stroll or short walk is the most popular activity here.

A comparison of the five surveyed countries in Northwest Europe shows that people in the UK tend to feel stressed less often, but a high percentage of Brits report that they experience health problems related to stress. The statistical analysis shows that while people who spend time outdoors in nature several times each week are not automatically less stressed, they do suffer from stress-related health problems significantly less often.

The desire to be outdoors amongst nature at least once each week is strongest in Switzerland and Germany. However, even in the UK, three out of four respondents would like to get outdoors amongst nature at least once each week, while 59% actually do so. As well as the frequency of getting outdoors, the type of nature sought out was important for respondents. Brits go to parks (48%) and forests (32%) most frequently. However, they would like to go to mountains, moors, national parks or natural bodies of waters more often. A comparison of the five countries surveyed shows that respondents from the UK are least satisfied with the nature in their immediate surroundings, although they are more than happy with the nature in other parts of the country

Swiss survey

Hiking is the favourite activity for those who exercise outdoors amongst nature. Among respondents in the UK, 44% have been hiking and 21% do so regularly - significantly fewer than the next lowest, France (62% and 30% respectively). Interestingly the survey also shows that fewer Brits set themselves targets or personal goals with their hiking 

When hikers find themselves in an area with no phone reception, they more often than not see this as a positive rather than a negative. A comparatively high percentage of UK respondents associated a lack of network with unease and risk (30%), however the sense of freedom at not being contactable was also highest in the UK out of all the countries (28%).

Mobile phones have become a wireless link to civilisation. Interestingly, the ability to make phone calls and communicate with others while outdoors in nature is important to only a small percentage of respondents. Many have their phone with them for safety reasons and to take photos but do not actually want to be contactable.

Swiss survey 2