The health and wellbeing of the nation would “vastly” improve if the clocks did not go back this weekend, experts have said.
Not putting the clocks back on Sunday morning but still putting them forward in the spring would increase daylight hours and encourage more outdoor activity, a report in the British Medical Journal suggests.
Many chronic illnesses are caused by a lack of physical activity and extending the hours of daylight would lead to an increased opportunity for outdoor leisure activities and more exercise, said Dr Mayer Hillman, senior fellow emeritus at the Policy Studies Institute.
He said an extra hour of light in the evening would benefit children - a number of whom are not allowed to leave their homes after dark - because they will be able to engage in outdoor activities for longer.
In addition, elderly people who may not go out in the dark for fear of assault and may have poorer vision and hearing would be given more time to take part in leisure and social activities during daylight hours.
Dr Hillman said research showed people felt happier, more energetic and had lower sickness rates in the longer and brighter days of summer compared to the shorter days of winter.
“Adopting this proposal for a clock change is an effective, practical, and a remarkably easily managed way to better align our waking hours with the available daylight during the year,” he said.
“It must be rare to find a means of vastly improving the health and well-being of nearly everyone in the population - here we have it - and it only requires a majority of MPs walking through the ‘ayes’ lobby in the House of Commons.”
According to Hillman, there is strong public support for the clock change - about 4 to 1 people in England and Wales would like to see the change while those in Scotland are evenly divided.
Campaign group Lighter Later argue that changing the clocks to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) +1 in winter and GMT +2 in summer would have a wide-reaching impact.
In Britain, up to 100 road deaths could be prevented annually while 447,000 tonnes of CO2 pollution could be cut because people would be switching their lights on later, said campaigners.