Proximity to salt water in particular can affect both your physical and mental health in a positive way. One study concluded that moving closer to the sea significantly improves people’s well-being, by about a tenth as much as finding a new job. But why does the ocean have such a strong impact on humans?
It is no secret that living further from the city and closer to natural places offers fresher air. But when air is exposed to water, especially salt water, it is charged with negative ions. Negative ions in the air help your body absorb oxygen.
Fresh air improves alertness and helps balance out the levels of serotonin. This means that not our mood and stress levels can both be improved simply by taking a walk by the ocean.
Fresher air is also great for those struggling with insomnia. Plus, hearing the ocean waves crash while you doze off can further help people get a good night’s sleep. This is why people who don’t live near the ocean will sometimes buy sound machines and enjoy the audio track of waves breaking to help them sleep.
A study found that people sleep on average for 47 minutes longer the night after a decent seaside hike. A similar length hike inland only helped people sleep an average of 12 minutes longer.
Basically, living by the ocean puts you into a positive health cycle. The fresh air helps you feel relaxed, helps you sleep, and has various health benefits which further improve your ability to relax and be happy.
Increased relaxation and a decrease in stress also strengthens the immune system. Once again, the cycle continued because a stronger immunity will help you fight off diseases and illnesses.
Plants and trees, especially those near water, are known to give off chemicals called phytoncides. When we breathe this in, it results in an elevated white blood cell count, which is great for fighting off infections.
This is why it is so good for us to be outside and particularly around water. Clearly our bodies know that it is a natural immunity booster because humans are naturally drawn to water.
A study concluded that living within 250 metres (820 feet) of a body of water, could decrease a person’s risk of dying by 12-17%. Dan Crouse, a research associate at the University of New Brunswick, discovered a similar correlation with city residents proximity to green and blue spaces in a 2017 study.
The study showed that living even 500 meters (0.3 miles) away reduces the risk of dying, however when you get to one kilometre (0.6 miles) the risks are the same as living further away. The researchers found that living near trees also reduces the risk of dying by 8-12%.
This sounds like a bit of a stretch, but it really isn’t. Water has always been an important aspect in human healing, both physically and spiritually.
Some believe that the ocean makes us more creative because a day at the beach is full of blue colours. The sky is blue, the water is blue and humans are drawn to it as a colour.
Being around water gives our brains and our senses a rest from overstimulation which helps us feel calm.
When we are near, on, in or under water, we get a cognitive break because there’s simply less information coming in.
Our brains don’t shut down, they keep working in a different way, according to marine biologist, Wallace J. Nichols. He points out that even hopping in the shower can be a great way to trigger ideas when our brains are in a creative rut.
So being near or in the ocean definitely has the ability to help us problem solve, think differently and create new ideas!
Living close to the ocean comes with certain risks including brutal storms, extra damage to cars and the small possibility that a flood will destroy your home.
However, the guaranteed pros might outweigh these less likely scenarios. Living by the ocean is proven to make us healthier, happier, more creative and less stressed. All these things on their own result in health benefits that make our lives better on a physical, mental and spiritual level.
Like being amongst nature? Well, this is the perfect place for you:
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