A recent poll shows Canadians have turned to nature to help cope with the impacts of COVID-19.

A new Ipsos poll conducted for the Nature Conservancy of Canada, reveals that 94 per cent of people credit time spent in nature with helping them relieve the stress and anxiety of the pandemic's second wave.

The trend is especially prevalent among women and young families. In fact, 96 per cent of women say this is true, compared to 92 per cent of men.

More than 85 per cent of people surveyed say access to nature has been important to maintaining their mental health. Three in four Canadians say time spent outdoors is more important to them now than ever before.

"Whether that's walking, jogging, hiking, cross country skiing or biking, it's just the effect of being out in the outdoors that has on Canadians' mental health," says Manitoba Vice President Kevin Teneycke.

According to the Nature Conservancy of Canada, the findings reinforce the connection between nature and health. At a time when health is a top priority for Canadians, nine in ten surveyed say we need to invest more to restore and care for the natural areas that sustain us all.

Teneycke says it has long been recognized the values to mental and physical health being out in nature provides Canadians. However, he notes as a country we have been spending less and less time outdoors.

"As we get more and more urbanized as a population, the recognition that being outdoors and the benefits to mental and physical health that provides us is an awareness we have," Teneycke explains.

"I think that has been amplified, or magnified, as a result of the pandemic, and some of the restrictions we've all experienced as a result of dealing with it."

The poll also indicates that 78 per cent of Canadians say being in nature is the best way to visit with friends and family right now, depending on provincial protocols, restrictions and bubbles. And, 55 per cent say they plan to spend more time outdoors to get through the winter months.

Having said all this, Teneycke says Manitobans have certainly got away with this winter. Prior to the cold snap, which held on for most of February, Teneycke says the mild weather has provided more opportunity for Manitobans to get outside at this time of year.

The Ipsos survey was an online poll of 2,000 people. The results are considered accurate to be within approximately 2.5 percentage points of what they would have been had the entire adult population of Canada been polled.