In recent weeks, scientists have been extolling the virtues of living by the sea. Like sand and salt water, sea air has many health benefits, both physical and mental. Here are three such virtues that might convince you to swap the hustle and bustle of the city for the soothing sound of the waves.
Do we really need studies to prove that life is less stressful by the sea than in urban centers? It's hardly surprising that the most relaxing time of the year, summer, is synonymous with sun, sand and salty air. But this hasn't stopped a host of scientists from looking into the subject to confirm—or refute —this seemingly evident theory. And the verdict is unanimous: living by the sea is good for the health of both body and mind. In other words, sea air, seawater and the sound of the waves are recommended for combating stress, improving sleep, breathing easier, improving self-esteem and even making skin glow. What more could you ask for?
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A source of well-being
Published in May in the journal Communications Earth & Environment, the most recent study on the subject was carried out by researchers at the University of Vienna on over 15,000 people from 15 countries, including Australia, Italy, France and the UK. The findings reveal that living near or visiting the seaside can be beneficial for health and well-being, regardless of country or income level. With more physical activity, less pollution, more social interaction and, above all, less stress, life by the sea has all the right ingredients to help recharge batteries and promote relaxation.
"It is striking to see such consistent and clear patterns across all 15 countries. We also now demonstrate that everybody seems to benefit from being near the seaside, not just the wealthy. Although the associations are relatively small, living near and especially visiting the coast can still have substantial effects on population health," the study's lead author explains in a news release.
In addition, sea air can help you gain dozens of minutes of sleep per night. And that's not insignificant considering that sleep improves cognitive function and physical recovery, boosts the immune system, and promotes good heart health, among other things. A study carried out on the initiative of the National Trust in 2015, and relayed by The Guardian, found that a walk by the sea resulted in an average of 47 minutes more sleep, compared with 'just' 12 minutes more for a walk inland.
"It’s clear there is something really special about the coast that can allow people to boost their mood, relax and sleep," said environmental psychologist Dr Eleanor Ratcliffe, who carried out the research. The study also points out that this type of coastal walk encouraged more reflective thoughts, particularly about childhood and family, and even introspection.
Breathing in the benefits
From negative ions, the concentration of which increases with moving water, to iodine, to the purity of the air compared to urban environments, it's a good idea to breathe deeply when you're walking by the sea. In fact, these elements can help promote respiratory health. But that's not all: living on the coast also allows you to load up on a host of micronutrients found in the sea air. Talk about a breath of fresh air! Moreover, it's a well-known fact that salt water unclogs and cleanses the nose to help ward off certain colds. So if you live by the sea, you can try taking a dip in the water to enjoy these benefits, instead of buying a saline solution at the pharmacy.