Estimated time to read: 4 minutes
Back in the good old Victorian days, heading down to the beach was a frequently recommend treatment for a number of health conditions. Although, thankfully, diseases like smallpox are no longer a huge problem in the UK; stress, depression and various auto-immune conditions are…we look at some of the health benefits associated with the beach and examine how modern science and research is beginning to reinforce the positive benefits of traditional treatments for enhancing physical and mental wellbeing.
A quick word of warning though before you read any further; this article has been written for information purposes only and we recommend visiting your doctor if you are suffering from any health issues highlighted in this post.
The practice of walking barefoot, is often referred to as “grounding”.
Grounding is a simple, yet scientifically proven way to reduce stress and improve sleep. All you need to do is walk, or stand with your bare feet in contact with the Earth. Studies have shown that when the body is grounded, or ‘earthed’ – the electrical potential becomes equalised with the Earth’s. This in turn, leads to a number of health benefits, related mainly to reduced stress hormones and inflammation.
Walking on the beach barefoot, as close as possible to the sea, is thought to be the most efficient way to practice grounding.
Research has concluded that in terms of mental health – exercising outdoors can lead to greater benefits than exercising indoors.
One study concluded that:
“Access to natural environments for physical activity should be protected and promoted as a contribution to protecting and improving population mental health.”
In addition, a study conducted on fifteen families who lived in coastal regions of South England, made the following findings:
• Families report children engage in a variety of physical activities at the beach.
• Families are active together as parents join in activities with their children.
• Families perceive beach visits as having health benefits for children and parents.
• The primary health benefits perceived by parents and children are psychological.
It would appear that living by the coast not only enhances the benefits of exercise, but tends to increase levels of participation as well.
Obviously, it’s very important to be sensible in the sun, but at the same time we should also acknowledge that it does provide a number of health benefits (in moderation). The sun enhances mood through the release of endorphins, helps to treat certain skin conditions and helps the body make Vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for bone growth and repair, immune function and for reducing inflammation.
For more information on how to get enough vitamin D without risking sun damage, please visit the NHS website.
I bet you didn’t know that the smell of the seaside is actually caused by the romantically named substance – dimethyl sulphide gas.
Negative hydrogen ions found in the sea air help to neutralise damage caused by ‘free radicals’ and can help to balance levels of serotonin – a hormone related to happiness. This has led to a number of studies looking at the potential use of negative ions as a treatment for depression. The same negative hydrogen ions, are also scientifically proven to help promote sleep and are currently being researched as a way to combat allergies.
Research conducted by American scientists on data from New Zealand, found that the health benefits of living besides the seaside, were so substantial, that they went on to recommend more houses and flats being built along shores; allowing more people to benefit.
Researchers found that in particular, having a view of the ocean from one’s home, was associated with improved mental health.
Additional research carried out by the European Centre of Environment & Human Health, examined data from the UK census – concluding that the closer respondents lived to the sea, the better their general health tended to be. This trend remained true, even when social and economic differences were accounted for, suggesting that living near to the coast has direct health benefits.
It would appear that the Victorians may have been on to something with their prescribed trips to the beach to help alleviate certain pains and illnesses. Thanks to the negative hydrogen ions, the relaxing sounds of the sea and the sun exposure, there are many health benefits to be enjoyed.
If you can’t get to the seaside, there is also a growing body of evidence confirming that just being ‘amongst nature’ also has a number of cognitive and physical benefits. These benefits include – improve memory, stress relief and reduced inflammation – so take a stroll in the woods, the hills or out in the fields whenever you can.
Anyone who is considering purchasing one of our holiday homes by the beach will stand to benefit from this also, giving yet another reason to consider purchasing your home away from home at one of our stunning coastal locations such as Talacre Beach Holiday Home Park and Swanage Bay View Holiday Home Park.
Darwin (North West) Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN 732836). These companies are appointed representatives of Darwin (North West) Limited: Aberconwy Limited, Darwin (Cheddar Woods) Limited, Darwin (Hawkchurch Country Park) Limited, Darwin (Piran Meadows) Limited & Darwin (Swanage Bay View) Limited