Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland families worst in UK for shunning the great outdoors

By Noel McAdam

Northern Ireland families spend less time outdoors than their counterparts in any other part of the United Kingdom, a new survey has revealed.

And almost a fifth of parents here (17%) say they would be outdoors with their children for less than one hour a week.

In a graphic illustration of changing family habits, the 17% total is up by more than three times compared to when today's parents were children themselves (5%).

A further 20% of parents in Northern Ireland said they spent five or more hours doing outside activities each week when they were children - a figure which has dropped by almost half to just 12%.

Families here are at the very bottom of a league table, demonstrating that they prefer spending time at home rather than going out together.

Health Minister Jim Wells warned people must be must be "encouraged and empowered" to adopt lifestyle changes involving more physical activity.

And an assistant director of the Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland, Mary Black, said getting out and about and staying active can help people feel good, reduce anxiety, sleep better, reduce blood pressure and manage their weight.

Parents in Wales, East Anglia and north west England were found to spend most time outside with their children, the survey disclosed.

Commissioned by children's mobility firm Britax, NI families also lagged behind their counterparts in East Midlands, Scotland, and the West Midlands.

Parents in London and Yorkshire were closest to NI in terms of time spent out of the house, but were still ahead, the Family Time report disclosed.

"The population must be encouraged and empowered to participate in more physical activity and take responsibility for making healthy lifestyle choices which will benefit their physical and mental health. All forms of physical activity can benefit an individual in the development of physical, social and emotional skills."

- Health Minister Jim Wells

Belfast Telegraph

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