Going to the beach is good for your health
Don’t discount the power of “vitamin sea”
Apr 9, 2018
It’s summer, and I’m sure we’re going to see a lot of “Time for some Vitamin Sea!” posts on Instagram again. You know what I mean. Overused pun aside, it actually makes sense—scientifically.
In a 2013 study published in health journal Health & Place, English census analysis showed that people living near the coast reported better overall health. A study was also conducted by Kobe University revealed that living by the seaside or with ocean views had higher positive psychological effects than living without.
So how exactly does the ocean improve our health? It has something to do with our senses.
I used to tell my friends that I have this sad hobby of taking short video clips of beaches that I re-watch when city life just gets too much and too tiring. I never really knew why I started doing it; I guess I just really liked the sound of the waves.
Turns out there’s actually science behind this. The repetitive, rhythmic sound of the waves crashing against the shore “de-stimulates” the brain, bringing it to a calmer, somewhat meditative state. No wonder those zen playlists always include the sound of water.
Orfeu Buxton, associate professor of biobehavioral health at Pennsylvania State University adds: “These slow, whooshing noises are the sounds of non-threats, which is why they work to calm people. It’s like they’re saying: ‘Don’t worry, don’t worry, don’t worry.’”
According to color psychology, using shades of blue and green in spaces help make it more calming. It’s no surprise—after all, oceans and forests (which are predominantly blue and green, respectively) are also proven to be natural spaces that bring about feelings of serenity and calm.
In an interview with NBC, clinical psychologist Richard Shuster says, “The color blue has been found by an overwhelming amount of people to be associated with feelings of calm and peace. Staring at the ocean actually changes our brain waves’ frequency and puts us into a mild meditative state.”
Having been asthmatic as a child, I’ve often heard about the healing benefits of breathing in the ocean air. The science was never clear to me, except for the fact that air at the beach is apparently cleaner (because it’s far from the pollution released by the city). Turns out, the ocean breeze is good because it has negative ions.
Negative ions are abundant in natural, clean air. These ions help clear out allergens in the air and can actually help in treating seasonal affective disorder (SAD, a type of seasonal depression).
Walking barefoot along the shore also stimulates the body and mind, thanks to the rich network of nerves on our feet. Plus, being out on the beach allows you to soak in vitamin D from sunlight—just be sure you’ve put on sunscreen beforehand.
Photos courtesy of Unsplash
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