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10 Surprising Health Benefits Of Going To The Beach
A favorite warm weather pastime is lounging by the beach, and rightfully so: it's fun, the view is beautiful, and you feel like you can relax a bit. But a day by the shore is more than just a good time; there are also surprising health benefits to going to the beach.
This isn't just anecdotal, either. Research has consistently found that many aspects of being at the beach is soothing and can help ease depression. People who live by the water report better physical and mental health than those who don't. Another study found that people who live in homes with ocean views feel more calm than those who don't.
Here are all of the ways the beach can improve your mental health:
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You get the benefits of vitamin D.
A good dose of vitamin D is necessary for everyone, and the natural way to get it is from sunlight. Spend some time at the beach during the day, and you're bound to soak up some vitamin D. There are lots of health benefits that come from this nutrient: it may help boost your immune system, and it's important for the growth and development of bones and teeth. Vitamin D can also help fight certain diseases and aids in weight loss. But don't forget to apply some SPF.
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The sea water can reduce symptoms of arthritis.
Spending some time in the ocean water may help reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. One study found that patients who used bath salts from Dead Sea minerals experienced fewer symptoms, such as reduced morning stiffness. This is because salt water dehydrates inflamed cells in the body, which in turn reduces inflammation. Salt can be absorbed into the skin as you soak in the water, reducing swelling and pain.
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It increases creativity.
Feeling uninspired lately? Try heading to the beach. A 2011 study found that not only can the beach help you feel happier, but it can also increase creativity. Marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols wrote about this in his book Blue Mind, explaining that being near the water not only calms us, but it also increases innovation and insight. It allows us to feel more open to new ideas and to our more creative side, which explains why many find the beach to be inspiring. Sounds like a perfect escape for an artist.
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Walking on sand is a great workout.
The beach is a great place for a workout, because you barely have to try to get one in. Research shows that walking on the beach is a better workout than walking on concrete since you have to work harder to move through the sand, even if you're moving at the same speed. Walking on the sand also requires more energy than walking on a hard surface, even at the same speed. Take a long beach walk for a feel-good workout.
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The smell of the air is soothing.
For many, the smell of ocean air is synonymous with long, peaceful summer days. That scent is undoubtably great, but it's not just pleasant - it can literally relax you. According to research, the smell of the ocean has a soothing effect on our brains because you're breathing in negative ions, which can be calming. Negative ions speed up your ability to absorb oxygen and can help balance your serotonin levels, which leaves you more relaxed and happy. Studies have found that negative ion therapy (like the ions found in ocean breezes) can be used t0 treat symptoms of seasonal affective disorder and can ease depression.
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It takes away from screen time.
Being at the beach means you're less likely to be staring at your phone or tablet, and you almost definitely won't be using your computer or television. Too much screen time has been shown to cause poor vision, poor sleep, back and neck pain, and impaired cognitive function. Getting away from it for a few hours of the day can only be a good thing.
According to Quartz, spending time by bodies of water (like the ocean or lake), can counter the dulling effect of too much screen time. That's because the water improves your mood and, again, opens your mind, and you feel more encouraged to experience everything with all of your senses.
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The beach helps you sleep better.
Since the beach is known to be soothing and calming, it just makes sense that it would help you sleep better. A 2015 study from the United Kingdom also found that people sleep on average 47 minutes longer the night after they spend time at the beach than those who weren't at the beach. Although scientists aren't sure exactly why people seem to sleep better after a day at the beach, they believe it has something to do with how relaxing the beach can be. It may allow people to calm down enough to let go of their stress and get a good night's rest.
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Sunlight reduces depression.
Spending time in the sunlight isn't just a good dose of vitamin D: it can actually help reduce depression. Exposure to sunlight is believed to boost the brain's release of serotonin, which can help improve your mood and make you feel more calm and focused. When you need a mood boost, head down to the shore.
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Breathing in ocean air is good for your lungs.
Take a walk down to the coast and take a deep breath - breathing it in is good for you. Research has found that sea air seemed to clear out the lungs of surfers who suffered from cystic fibrosis. One study found that ocean air has therapeutic qualities that may help lung disease patients also. It's known as salt therapy, or halotherapy, and it's under-researched, although some do notice that it seems to have anti-inflammatory benefits. Scientists aren't exactly sure why it might be helpful. Some theorize that it could be that salt particles are killing off microorganisms in the lungs, or that the salt is reducing inflammation and mucus.
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