A survey conducted by UK ferry operator, Discover Ferries, suggests that time spent in or around water could provide the perfect antidote to stricter lockdown measures

79% of people said that the sound of the sea relaxes them

In Britain, the medicinal benefits of sea-bathing have long-been championed. Trained doctors were prescribing trips to the coast for their patients as early as 1750, while the prolonged visit to Weymouth made by George III in 1789 in an effort to recuperate from his unstable mental health led to a surge in popularity for coastal ventures that has never quite dissipated.

The fact, then, that Discover Ferries have taken to urging Brits to spend more time by water to enhance wellbeing during the coronavirus pandemic should come as little surprise.

The ferry industry body, whose members operate more than 80 routes from the UK, British islands and Ireland, has based its calls on new research that indicates time spent in or by water can help people to relax, improve their sleep, elevate mood and reduce anxiety.

66% of people agree that sea air makes them sleep better

Key findings show over three-quarters of Brits find spending time by the water relaxing, 79 per cent of people say the sound of the sea relaxes them and 66 per cent agree the sea air makes them sleep better. Not only that, but time by the water could also provide Brits with the recharging benefits of a breakaway until holidays are fully back on the cards. The study showed that two-thirds of the public say they feel like they have been on holiday when they have visited a blue space.

Director of Discover Ferries, Abby Penlington comments: "We know that the lack of holidays in 2020 has negatively impacted people’s mental health and the introduction of the new tier-system and tighter restrictions could prove even more detrimental. Coupled with shorter days and cold, wet weather, people may be discouraged from venturing outdoors and missing out on the health benefits on offer."

The choice of activities by and on the water are virtually limitless

Yet according to Penlington, this doesn't have to be the case. “As long as social distancing and local rules allow, now is the time take advantage of being by the water, whether it is taking the towpath on your next jog, flying kites on the beach or trying wild swimming," she says.

So what's on offer?

Well, as well as their study, Discover Ferries have put together a list of recommended activities that just so happen to make for ideal family days out by the water (factoring in the cold weather of course!). Here are their top five suggestions:

Paddleboarding and kayaking

Set your own pace to explore local canals, rivers and coasts from the waterline. For residents in the capital, there are a number of specific paddle boarding schools on the Thames to choose from on. For the flexible, classes for yoga on a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) are available across locations including London and Isle of Wight.

Take to the surf

Cooler temperatures make winter surfing even more exhilarating, don a dry suit for extra warmth and leave your worries off in the wake. Bristolians can try this intense workout on the River Severn or at the UK’s first inland surfing facility.

Spotting grey seals for the first time is great fun for young kids

Grey seals spotting

It’s pupping season for these cute marine mammals adding excitement to coastal walks. Particularly visible along the western shores of Britain, take a pair of binoculars on your next seaside stroll and you and your family may be lucky enough to see white fluffy pups. Watch the excitement on your children's faces as they spot the adorable pups sunning themselves on the rocks.

Yoga by the water

Take your mats down to the coast to fill your lungs with fresh sea air and enrich your practice with the gentle sounds of lapping waves. Sandy or stony beaches will challenge your balance to the max!

Forage and cook tours

If lockdown ignited your passion for home cooking, sample the wonders of the coastal kitchen with forage and cook tours. Adapted to be COVID-safe, tours are available across the UK, with locations including Plymouth, the Lake District and Errwood Reservoir right on the water. They provide great fun for all the family.

For further information on how the ferry industry is responding to COVID-19, visit Discover Ferries