Why Living by the Ocean Is Beneficial for Your Mental Health

All you need to know about "blue health"

Living Near the Coast Is Healthier

According to a recent study published by the University of Exeter in the journal Health and Place, coastal living has a positive relationship affect on mental health. Researchers collected data from 26,000 respondents in England, and compared people’s health to their proximity to the coast (ranging from those within a half mile to the water, and those 30 miles or more out).

They discovered that those who lived closest were 22 percent less likely to display symptoms of a mental health disorder than those 30+ miles away. And even more striking: among low-income households, coastal homes were 40 percent less likely to suffer from mental health disorders. The environmental psychologist who led the study, Dr. Jo Garrett, described coastal areas as a “protective zone,” that could level the happiness playing field for households making do with less.

This study is the latest confirmation of a recently researched concept called “blue health.” Those feelings of calm, clarity or creativity you get while watching the ocean? They’re rooted in actual physiological responses within the body — eased heart rate and blood pressure — which over time, can help quell anxiety. No wonder there are now “aquatic therapists” looking to study the mindfulness achieved by simply being around or in water.

The Exeter researchers hope that exhibiting coastal areas’ benefits in everyday wellness might lead lawmakers to improve access (sea walks, public beaches) and care for already-shaky ecosystems. The study was part of a partnership with the BlueHealth project, a European initiative to investigate links between the environment and health.

As for your blue health, we’d encourage you to consider the last time you spent a day by the sea. If you don’t live close by, maybe don’t uproot for the sake of one British study. But try to make a point, much like walking through parks or going on hikes to see green-spaces, to inject a bit of blue into your future. If you want to improve your physical health while there, too, we have a beach workout we’d recommend, which is actually best performed in the fall.

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