Workaholic Brits suffer from urban fatigue

Article date: 25 May 2007

  • New research shows that stressed out city dwellers need to give themselves a break

One in five urbanites never take weekend breaks and a quarter only manage to escape the city twice a year, which causes them to feel run down and suffer from ‘urban fatigue', according to new research out today.

Norwich Union surveyed the inhabitants of 10 major UK cities and found that stressed-out city dwellers are finding it increasingly difficult to get away from urban life and unwind properly at weekends. Main findings include:

  • 70% of city dwellers feel stressed by city life
  • One in three regularly take work-related calls at the weekend
  • One in five urbanites never leave the city at weekends
  • Yet two thirds (66%) recognise the need for a regular change of scenery

Behavioural psychologist Dr Aric Sigman believes that city workers are suffering from so-called 'urban fatigue' and could be risking their physical and mental health simply because they don't leave the city often enough.

He said: "Many Brits still only take the traditional big annual holiday, but as society becomes increasingly urbanised and lifestyles more hectic, there's a real need for city dwellers to take small breaks on a more regular basis. Research has shown that it is far more beneficial for the mind and body to take lots of mini breaks. In fact, just the knowledge that we're escaping produces spontaneous relaxation allowing stressed out professionals to redress the balance and prevent ill health."

Despite experts recommending escaping the city on a regular basis, a quarter of city workers surveyed are put off using their car at weekends to get away from the city because of high running costs. Yet hopping in the car and getting away from it all is one of the best ways to help combat urban fatigue.

Kay Martin, head of "Pay As You Drive"TM insurance at Norwich Union, explains: "There are clear benefits to escaping the city and recharging the batteries ahead of a new week. For urbanites concerned about the running costs of their car "Pay As You Drive" insurance is an ideal policy because premiums reflect how far the car is driven, and rates begin from less than 1p per mile at weekends. We would encourage hard working professionals to literally give themselves a break and make sure they get out of the city more - they'll be amazed at the benefits. "

Dr Sigman has some simple steps city dwellers can follow to combat urban fatigue:

  • Escape the city at least once a month
  • Swap the tarmac jungle or treadmill at the weekend for a park or country path
  • Get your RDA of greenery by spending 20 minutes a day in a public park/garden and even longer out of the city at weekends - this is known to stimulate many health benefits from lower blood pressure to reduced irritability
  • Spend quality time on relationships, taking time out at the weekend to go on a family day out and limit any work-related calls you have to take
  • Give your eyes a break from screen gazing by minimising TV viewing to two hours per day at the weekend and avoid turning on your computer at all
  • Visit local areas of interest to stimulate your mind and to give your eyes a change of scenery


Research conducted amongst 1045 city dwellers and drivers between 02/03/07 and 15/03/07 (

A guide on "Pay As You Drive"TM insurance is available to download at

For further information:
Please contact Erik Nelson at Norwich Union on 01603 682264/ 07989 427086 or Chris Soult at Lexis PR on 0207 908 6475

Notes to editors
About ‘Pay As You Drive'TM insurance

  • Norwich Union Insurance Limited is licensed under European patent application no.s 97904096.1 and 01303501.9. Licensed from Progressive Casualty Insurance Company, USA and is proprietor of European patent (UK) no. 0700009.
  • Progressive (NYSE:PGR), with headquarters in Mayfield Village, Ohio, is the fourth largest motor insurance company in the US. In business since 1937, the company provides all drivers in 48 US states and the District of Columbia with competitive rates and 24 hour, in-person and online services.

About Norwich Union

  • Norwich Union is the UK's largest general insurer with a market share of around 14%, with a focus on insurance for individuals and small businesses.
  • It is a leading provider of life, pensions and investment products and one of the largest Financial Adviser (FA) providers. FAs provide over 70% of the company's long-term savings business in the UK.
  • Norwich Union's news releases and a selection of images are available from Aviva's internet press centre at

Back to top