Want to feel better in body and mind? Head to a beach

By Isaac Heller • Published: October 2nd, 2017
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

It’s probably no surprise that spending time at the beach is thought to be good for your mind, body and soul. Now there is scientific evidence to support the notion.

A study published in the journal Health & Place found those who live close to the coast enjoy better physical and mental health than those who live elsewhere. Researchers examined the British Household Panel Survey, which includes information on more than 10,000 people. They found the rate of self-reported good health was higher in those communities near the coast, after controlling for variables such as employment levels, crime rates and green space.

Specifically, they found exposure to coastal environments aids in stress reduction, promotes physical activity and encourages positive social interactions — all of which have been associated with better health.

Even if you’re not fortunate enough to live in a coastal community, there are benefits to just visiting. The researchers found that trips to the coast, or to woodland or green spaces, bring particularly strong feelings of restoration, which can alleviate stress.

As if to back up the research, a different study, this one published in the Journal of Coastal Zone Management, found people who live close to the sea enjoy positive psychological effects, with the elderly benefiting the most. And a Gallup poll showed people living in Hawaii had the highest scores in three of five well-being elements in the poll. One reason cited: the state’s abundance of beaches.

So if you want to improve your mental and physical health and reduce stress, head to the closest patch of sandy paradise. Just remember to wear plenty of sunscreen.