Beach Day Boost: Why Going To The Water Can Benefit Your Health
The feeling that some of us get after a nice, long walk on the beach can be tough to explain—but emerging research is attempting to put it into words. The latest study in the field of blue space research, which studies the positive health effects of beaches, lakes, and other bodies of water, finds that short, repetitive walks on the water can indeed have positive effects on people's overall well-being and mood1.
How short walks in blue spaces can be beneficial.
For the study, a team of researchers gathered 59 healthy adults. For one week, participants walked in a "blue space" for 20 minutes every day (in this case, it was a Barcelona beach). Then, for another week, they spent 20 minutes walking in a city every day. For the last week, those 20 minutes were spent resting indoors.
After the different walks, researchers asked subjects questions about their mood and well-being and collected data about their blood pressure and heart rate. They concluded that those who walked in blue space experienced improvements in mental health, mood, and overall vitality, though cardiovascular health did not seem to change between the environments.
The significance of this research.
This contributes to the growing body of research supporting the fact that time in nature is really important to overall health, with previous studies showing that connecting with the outdoors can reduce anxiousness and stress and even help prevent premature death.
And while you may not need science to justify your love for the beach, studies like this can help incentivize policy. The more clear the health benefits of blue space, the more inclined policymakers will be to implement programs that make it accessible to the masses—especially those who live in urban areas.
"According to the United Nations," Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, a researcher in the study, says, "55% of the global population now lives in cities. It is crucial to identify and enhance elements that improve our health—such as blue spaces—so that we can create healthier, more sustainable, and more livable cities."
Not only are more and more people living in urban places, but humans deal with a tremendous amount of stress nowadays. So if you are lucky enough to have access to the water, be sure to put this research to the test and visit it as often as you can, even if it's just for a few minutes (while still practicing safe social distancing, of course). Doing so might pay dividends for your stress levels and overall mood.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.