AUSTRALIANS are fond of taking off to the beach to spend some quality time in the surf, sun and sand and scientists have declared that it’s actually good for your health.
Studies from the United States and Britain have found beach-dwelling promotes improved happiness, general wellbeing and even brain function.
It’s perhaps why residents of the US state of Hawaii have been ranked the happiest in the whole country for six consecutive Gallop surveys.
Research by Kobe University in Japan found people who live in a house with a view of the ocean are calmer than those who don’t.
It mirrors the findings of data published in Health Place, which concluded that Brits who live by the coast report better physical and mental health.
According to Medical Daily, sea water contains minerals including magnesium, potassium and iodine that could help the body fight infection.
And breathing in the sea air has respiratory benefits that could result in a better night’s sleep, it said.
Clinical psychologist Richard Shuster told NBC that the ‘zen’ feeling induced by being at the beach comes down to a number of drives — and not just the benefit of vitamin D.
“The colour blue has been found by an overwhelming amount of people to be associated with feelings of calm and peace,” Dr Shuster said.
Staring out at the ocean also resulted in a kind of meditative state, he said, and actually changed the frequency of brain waves.
The sound of waves coming in, crashing and then receding again can help activate the parasympathetic nervous system, slowing us down and promoting relaxation.
“It kind of de-stimulates our brains,” Shuster said.
And even the physical sensation of sand between your toes is good for your wellbeing.
A study published in Psychiatry Research examined the brains of people who regularly meditated over an eight-week period and found significant improvements.
It found the part of the brain responsible for stress emotions shrank, while the areas that produce empathy, reasoning and memory grew.
Shuster said the beach was a good spot to wind down and promote these kinds of outcome.
“Focus on how your body feels warm from the rays of the sun, focus on what it feels like to have your feet in the sand, breathe deep and smell the ocean air,” he said.
If you needed an excuse to hit the beach, your health is a pretty good one.
Just don’t forget to slip, slop, slap — not only will wearing sunscreen protect you from skin cancer, but an Aussie study found it keeps you looking youthful like no other product.
This piece was first seen on ‘News.com.au’ July 31 2017.