Beat the Blues: Exercising in Blue Spaces

Most people know how important it is to be active and spend more time outdoors in green spaces, but did you know that there may be similar health benefits to getting out in blue spaces too?

Blue spaces are areas near to or adjacent to water. Luckily, we are situated in a prime location that provides great options when it comes to activity by lakes, reservoirs, canals and the sea. Bournemouth’s coastal area is the perfect place when it comes to getting the local population active and promoting a less sedentary lifestyle. The EU BlueHealth project aims to provide more robust evidence for evaluating the health benefits, but a recent review of the literature found that proximity to coastal areas is positively associated with better physical and mental health.

With evidence showing that mental health issues occur at higher rates in urbanised areas, and with 1 in 4 people in the UK experiencing mental health issues, it is important that we understand how getting back to nature can directly and indirectly increase our wellbeing.

Controlled trials have found that people exercising outdoors report higher feelings of wellbeing, and lower feelings of stress or anxiety, than those doing the same activity indoors. The Faculty of Public Health suggests that interaction with nature might be effective in treating some forms of mental illnesses. There is emerging evidence that engaging with nature benefits those living with conditions such as ADHD, depression and dementia, by improving cognitive functioning and reducing anxiety.

Back in 2009, the Government launched the “Enjoying Water” strategy which aimed to get more people swimming outdoors, or taking part in water sports as part of tackling obesity and improving mental health. This strategy included creating inland beaches on reservoirs, enabling access to waterways for canoeist’s or fishermen, installing webcams on rivers to check conditions, creating outdoor swimming clubs, improving facilities, appointing lifeguards on beaches and opening water for swimming and sports around the country.

If you’re eager to get out and about on the water, here are some top places in Dorset where you can immerse yourself in the blue.

Rockley Watersports
Poole, Dorset

With over 40 years of experience, Rockley offer a variety of water sport activities and courses including sailing, kayaking, windsurfing and paddle sports. If you’re looking for recognised training or simply a rewarding experience, Rockley provides activity holidays, an Academy, and adventure trips for schools.

Bournemouth Pier Zipline
Bournemouth, Dorset

The PierZip is the world’s first pier to shore zip wire, boasting a 250-metre dual zip wire. The dual zip line means you can ride with family & friends and challenge them to race to the shore! Launching from the Zip Tower platform 25mtrs above the sea, thrill-seekers race out and “zip surf” 250 meters over the top of the waves to land on the beach. A truly unique and unforgettable experience and a wonderful way to mentally picture the amazing, panoramic view of Bournemouth and its stunning coast line!

Hengistbury Head, Outdoor Education Centre
Bournemouth, Dorset

With a variety of activities for all ages and abilities, and a team of experienced staff, you can easily find something to suit your preferences and skills. Choose from the likes of sailing, rowing, windsurfing, paddle boarding and more. Learn a new water sport and make a party out of it or organise the annual team-building session by incorporating the fun, the healthy and the practical.

Dorset Waterpark
Corfe Castle, Dorset

Dorset Waterpark is a wet and wild Woodland Waterpark set in the stunning surrounding of the Purbeck countryside. This aqua-based, fully lifeguarded obstacle course is perfect for any weather, for families, businesses and school visits, for younger and older ones (you can never be too old to have a good time). It offers both entertainment and challenge, as the course includes bridges and balance beams, gladiator rings and monkey bars, slides, trampolines and a lot more! Perfect for a weekend adventure.

Cumulus Outdoor Adventure
Swanage, Dorset

Cumulus Outdoors offers a range of exciting and fun-filled outdoor adventure-based activities for families, private groups, school residential programmes, teambuilding and leadership development experiences, all while on the stunning Jurassic Coastline and throughout the Isle of Purbeck. Stimulate both mind and body by meeting and overcoming new challenges, while having a great time with a great view.

Bournemouth Seafront Outdoor Gym and Bouldering
Bournemouth, Dorset

What better way to get active than doing some exercise while having a front-row seat to our picturesque coastline. The Bournemouth Seafront Outdoor Gym is created with the idea to allow people a free-of-charge area to carry out physical activities and in that way take care of their physical health, but also having a view of the seafront to relax and take care of their mental health as well. Don't forget to check out the bouldering rocks at Boscombe Pier.

Seafront Cycling
Bournemouth, Dorset

Cycling is generally considered a very healthy and relaxing activity for all ages and abilities, but combined with the sea air and the stunning view of our coastline, it becomes even more beneficial to both our physical and mental health. Grab a bike and try for yourself.

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