Meteorological conditions and physical activity in England

Available on 4 June 2019

This research has shown that natural environments can support recreational physical activity under a range of weather and daylight conditions, and that certain meteorological conditions affect physical activity differently in some nature-based settings.

Analysing survey data of leisure visits to natural environments in England (n = 47,613), the study explored relationships between energy expenditure (MET-minutes) in natural environments (parks, woodlands, inland waters, and coasts) and a series of meteorological factors.

Overall, it found a positive linear relationship between MET-minutes and air temperature; a negative linear relationship with wind speed; no relation with categories of rainfall; and a positive, but non-linear relationship with daylight hours.

These same trends were observed for park-based energy expenditure, but differed for visits to other natural environments: only daylight hours were related to energy expenditure at woodlands; wind speed and daylight hours affected energy expenditure at inland waters; and only air temperature was related to energy expenditure at coasts.

The findings have implications for reducing commonly-reported meteorological barriers to both recreational physical activity and visiting natural environments for leisure, and begin to indicate how recreational energy expenditure in these environments could be affected by future climate change.

Full citation

Elliott, L. R., White, M. P., Sarran, C., Grellier, J., Garrett, J. K., Scoccimarro, E., Smalley, A., Fleming, L. E. (2019). The effects of meteorological conditions and daylight on nature-based recreational physical activity in England. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 42,  39–50.