Beside the Seaside: Reflections on Local Green and Blue Spaces from Adults Aged over 50 in a Coastal Community

Pool, Ursula orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-3658-3346, Kenyon, Anna orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-5423-0651, Froggett, Lynn orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-8406-6231 and Dooris, Mark T orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-5986-1660 (2023) Beside the Seaside: Reflections on Local Green and Blue Spaces from Adults Aged over 50 in a Coastal Community. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 20 (14). ISSN 1661-7827

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This qualitative study examined the perceptions of potential wellbeing benefits of local green and blue spaces for adults aged over 50 years in a coastal town in North West England. At a population level, living close to green and blue spaces is associated with better mental and physical health, with the strength of the benefits being inversely related to the economic prosperity of an area. However, living in economically disadvantaged coastal communities may be associated with poorer health and wellbeing, particularly for older adults, despite the proximity to blue (and often green) space. Exploring this apparent paradox was the aim of the present study. Through semi-structured interviews with members of a community group, we gained insight into lived experiences of local green and blue spaces. The main themes we developed from analysis of the conversations were
accessibility, amenities, social connections, quality of environment, and recuperation and escape. Our findings illustrate that participants valued natural spaces that were local and accessible, particularly when they felt connected to them, and were less likely to visit spaces that were further away and that were perceived as being less welcoming or accessible. This study provides insights into the experiences of adults aged over 50 living in coastal areas and suggests that policies and interventions aimed at promoting wellbeing in this demographic should consider the value of hyper-local green and blue spaces and their potential to promote connectedness to nature.

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