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The charity making life better by water

Dr. Amir Khan

Dr. Amir Khan, a GP and best-selling author, is a champion for our rivers and canals.

Here, he tells us why spending time outdoors improves health and wellbeing and why we should all play our part in protecting our local canals.

  • Read the film transcript

    Spending time outdoors has huge benefits to our physical and mental wellbeing, and there are many studies that repeatedly prove being amongst nature offers numerous health benefits, including stress, anxiety, and blood pressure.

    Since the start of the pandemic, I’ve seen a huge spike in conversations around wellbeing and people raising concerns over their mental health. That’s why it’s so important that we protect and look after the precious outdoor blue and green spaces, like canals and rivers, particularly in our towns and cities where they are needed most.

    Over the last year, the outdoors became a saviour for many of us. For me, my local canal offered the respite and the time in nature I needed to recharge after a busy clinic and influx of patients. This is why I’m supporting the Canal & River Trust by asking you to #ActNowForCanals and look after these vital spaces that offer a natural and lasting way to better wellbeing for millions of people across the country. All you need to do is one small act that will positively impact so many people by taking part in their ten-minute Sense in Nature survey today.

What do you like about spending time by canals and rivers?

As a doctor, I am constantly looking for ways to help people feel better. Getting outside each day and spending time in nature helps to reduce stress, anxiety and blood pressure. Studies have also shown that spending time by water can help to restore our mind and bring positive energy to our lives. I feel this when I spend time by my local canal, and I know that it works for many other people too.

Why is the work of Canal & River Trust so important?

In the UK, over 50 million people live in urban areas, that's nearly 83% of the population! In places like Bradford, where I work, the canal is one of the only green/blue space that people can easily access. Without canals, the associated health benefits would be pushed beyond the reach of millions of people.

The work that Canal & River Trust does to look after these spaces and to encourage people, especially those of us living in towns and cities, to get out and enjoy time by water is crucial to enabling more people to enjoy better mental and physical wellness.

What are your hopes for the charity over the next 10 years?

Canals offer us respite from our busy lives and the chance to spend time in nature, which we so badly need. It would be fantastic if in 10 years' time, canals are seen as our 'natural health service' and we have more doctors and health practitioners prescribing time by water to their patients.

Last Edited: 29 February 2024

photo of a location on the canals
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