Hippocrates coined it “thalassotherapy.” We call it vitamin-sea.
Whatever you dub it, it’s not just the beach-air and sunshine. Being near the coast can work wonders on your soul.
There’s nothing like that first visit of the year to the beach, is there? The sense of profound freedom you feel when you see the lapping waves, the proximity between you and the vast natural world. The coast is a natural wonder.
We don’t need to carry on painting the picture. Soon enough, you’ll be able to pack the car and head on down to the seashore. And here at Lyons Holiday Parks, we’re extremely proud of the beautiful North Welsh coastline.
Whether it’s a blazing hot summer’s day or a fresh spring afternoon, there is plenty of evidence to support our notion that the coast is good for you – and your soul. An expert has told us to:
‘Never underestimate the importance of holidays…but the cumulative effect of actually living by the sea could have a much greater effect in the longer term.’
Here are some facts we think you’ll love about our beloved coast, and how it can benefit you:
1. The coast encourages you to move
It makes sense, right? Living next to a beautiful stretch of coastline incentivises residents to get out and stretch their legs. According to a study by Health & Place, those who lived less than 1km from the sea reported they felt they were in ‘better health’ than inland folk. An obvious health benefit of relocating to the coast is the aesthetic promise on any walk of a beautiful view.
Reports have also revealed that increased access to watersports also boosts up exercise levels. It’s a given that those who live nearer to the coast will take up more swimming, diving, surfing, and other beach-based sports.
2. A boost of vitamin sea
In a study conducted by Environment International, those lucky enough to live near the coast have higher counts of essential vitamins than those who live away from the shore.
The most notable of these is Vitamin D or ‘the sunshine vitamin.’ Mark Cherrie, of Exeter University, worked on a vitamin study to discover just how coastal residents reported higher levels. Spending more time in the sun is one of the main factors, with the UK’s coastlines being more exposed to sunlight compared to inland areas.
Vitamin D is vital for the human body to function. It helps keep bones healthy, regulates the immune system, and can prevent eczema and asthma. Experts do urge you to remember, however, that basking in the sun for hours on end isn’t the best idea for your skin. Use suncream, cover-up, and hydrate folks!
3. Safe space to socialise at the coast
Humans are social creatures – it’s in our blood. And this year has proven more than ever the pitfalls of social isolation. Although we can’t change the past, we can certainly look forward to a brighter future – think ahead to those bright warmer days when we will (hopefully) be allowed to congregate outside.
According to Dr Elliott Lewis: ‘The coast provides opportunities for experiences that strengthen social support
networks and [this] leads to better mental health.’
4. Breathe in better air
Ever took a massive gulp of sea air and thought ‘wow, I really felt that?’ Us, too. Salty sea air is, according to Professor Pierce J Howard from the US Centre for Applied Cognitive Sciences, full of negative ions. When the sea sprays, it sends out little droplets full of charged particles which can help our ability to absorb oxygen.
This can help with alertness and can stop coughs, sneezes and a sore throat. The study also suggests that inhaling that fresh salty sea air can also improve lung function for cystic fibrosis and hay fever sufferers.
According to Max Wiseberg, airborne allergy expert: ‘Onshore breezes can blow away pollen-laden air, although that has to be balanced against the chance of offshore breezes blowing pollen at you. If that’s the case, at least you can dive into the sea and wash it all off.’
5. The colours of the coast
Ben Wheeler is a senior researcher at Exeter University’s European Centre for Environment and Human Health (ECEHH). He studied whether ‘the green and blue spaces of parks, countryside and watery areas’ has a positive impact on health and wellbeing. And guess what?! It did!
He confirmed: ‘We can see that a mix of green and blue environments is most beneficial, which supports our findings that the closer people live to the coast, the healthier they report feeling.’ This is down to the positive sensation we as humans experience when looking at nice things. Like looking at pictures of dogs. Or seeing a baby smile. Or turning off the news.
The association between the orbitofrontal cortex (the part of your brain associated with pleasure and emotion) and stress reduction is largely credited. Which basically means that pleasant views can calm you down. Which leads to our next point…
6. The stress-reducing sea
Richard Shuster, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and host of The Daily Helping podcast, said: ‘The colour blue has been found by an overwhelming amount of people to be associated with feelings of calm and peace. Staring at the ocean actually changes our brain waves’ frequency and puts us into a mild meditative state.’
The placebo effect does come into play though. Elements of the coast are physically beneficial (such as the ion-air, sunshine and thalassotherapy-esque buzz of the waves). But a lot of our beach-feel-good vibes are to do with what we associate the beach with.
‘We’ve been conditioned to think of the beach as peaceful and relaxing,’ Shuster said. ‘We expect when we go to the beach that we are going to relax.’
7. The hypnotic waves
When people say ‘watching the sea lets me think,’ they’re not chatting rubbish.
One theory about how the waves affect our mind is ‘attention restoration.’ Ben Wheeler (ECEHH) says: ‘Our ability to concentrate is a limited resource that we deplete as we use it. Whether that’s driving to the shops or focusing at work. In an environment like the beach, we use what’s called “soft attention” to engage with our surroundings, and it helps to replenish our mental reserves.’
It basically means ‘effortless attention.’ Watching the sea lets you think because you turn off your capacity to think about work, doing the weekly shop, or that email you forgot to send.
8. Taking a dip keeps your skin in the nick
Seaspray helps you breathe. The waves help you relax. Is there anything seawater isn’t good for? (Well, maybe not boiling an egg.)
Well, scientists have found that seawater is also brilliant for the skin. The high levels of magnesium in seawater help boost the skin’s elasticity. This in turn helps hydrate it and give you a nice, healthy glow.
The childhood myth that ‘seawater will heal your scars’ is also widely supported. Natural seawater contains salt and potassium chloride, and are really great healers.
9. Catch more zzz’s after a trip to the coast
Being near the sea helps you snooze for longer, and improves your quality of sleep. Eleanor Ratcliffe is an environmental psychologist at the National Trust and founded this theory. She discovered that those who take a coastal walk sleep for almost an hour more than those who ramble inland.
She said: ‘It’s clear there is something really special about the coast that can allow people to boost their mood, relax and sleep.’ It’s thought that being able to think, walk and breathe by the beach contributes to their ability to doze off when they hit the sack.
10. The city ain’t no coast
Like we said, almost everyone associates the beach with vacation. Whether that’s as a child eating ice cream, or a surfer catching the waves on a weekend. Or even a girls’-only holiday where you do nothing but lap up the sun.
We’re all keen to get away from the usual hustle and bustle of city life – and some of us have even had those liberties quashed this year. There will be nothing more appealing to the mind and body than to pack up and head down to the coast (when it’s safe to do so!)
This notion of ‘fresh air will do you good’ mainly derives from the Victorian period. The sea-side was famously associated with escapism away from the smoke and smog of the city. This concept has stuck, and people still flock in their thousands to restore their lungs, heart and soul by the sea.
Which beach is your favourite to visit? Comment your answers in the section below, and we’ll write an informative blog post about your beloved place in the sun next month!