London: People who live close to the coast are more likely to meet physical activity guidelines than inland dwellers, found a study.
Examining the degree of exercise people get through leisure activities as well as simply getting around, the study has shown that visiting the coast, rather than just living near it, is crucial in stimulating physical activity.
"It is clear that our coastal paths and beaches provide a wonderful resource for encouraging and enabling physical activity. Participants reported a number of activities from simply walking to more obvious exercise such as swimming or running," said Mathew White from the University of Exeter's Medical School.
To reach this conclusion, the team analysed data from over 180,000 participants.
The research involved participants from across England and describes a particularly noticeable effect on the western - but unexpectedly not eastern - coasts of the nation.
"We might have uncovered untapped potential for beach resorts and destinations to be used to encourage exercise and promote healthy lifestyles," added Ben Wheeler, one of the paper's co-authors.
According to researchers, government policy needs to ensure these natural spaces are protected and responsibly promoted.
The findings were published in the journal Preventive Medicine.