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Clock change 'would improve nation's health'

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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.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Anything that saves me money - less electricity etc and makes the winter more tolerable has got to be good. Going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark is sooo depressing and I am reluctant to let my son out in the dark.

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  • from personal experience i would second that - when i was younger i didn't even notice but now over 60 i feel pending doom and gloom at the precipitation of shorter evenings from this weekend and severe curtailment of my activities and I am quite sure many others are equally affected whether they work all day or are elderly. if i go out for the day i feel i have to rush back before dark and this rush puts me under pressure and stress to the extent that i feel it is not worth bothering to go out. it also gets colder quicker which also spoils many healthy outdoor activities and i have spent a fortune rushing around trying to do as much as i can and enjoy before the weekend. i believe less hours of daylight is a contributing factor to depression, at least mine, and other mh disorders and reactive depression at more costly fuel and lighting bills which don't help a limited monthly budget. i don't see any logic anymore in this clock change - i am sure farmers and their livestock could adapt instead of the rest of us always having to accommodate them but then i don't have any experience of farming.

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