MY GENERATION BLOG: Oceanside Living Is Good for Health
Research by University of Exeter shows that spending time by the sea has many positive effects on health and well-being.
Epidemiologist Lora Fleming has begun a project called “Blue Gym” to study how natural water environments can be used to promote human health and well-being.
The notion that being near a beach makes one feel healthy is not new, of course. Doctors were prescribing trips to the shore or visits to “bathing hospitals” — special clinics that offered seawater bath treatments — as early as the 18th century.
When you put a person in a beach environment, “It’s not going to be any great surprise to you that people relax,” said study researcher Mathew White, an environmental psychologist at Exeter. The question, he said, is how many people experience such health effects, and how much they impact people’s health.
They found that people who lived closer to the coast reported better health.
The researchers also looked at the effect of moving near a coast. Moving closer to the sea “significantly improves people’s well-being,” White said — by about a tenth as much as finding a new job. The seaside environment may reduce stress and encourage physical activity, he added.
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