Beaches are some of the greatest and most enjoyable natural features this earth has to offer us. Homeowners pay exorbitant amounts of money to live near a beach, vacationers flock to sunny beach side locations on holidays, and when retirement age hits – it’s off to warm coastal areas people go! So why exactly is this? Why do we, as humans, naturally gravitate towards the beach?
Let’s face it; you don’t hear “Oh my god I just got back from a day at the beach and it was horrible. I’m stressed and now feeling more depressed than ever!” It’s quite possible that blasphemous phrase has never been uttered in the history of mankind, and for good reason; it simply doesn’t happen. While we may not consciously be able to pinpoint the exact reasons why we feel so happy and relaxed after a day at the beach, it truly does have many positive effects on a person both physically and psychologically. So check out the facts – below are just ten of these benefits explained.
- Going to the beach relieves stress.
The number one benefit for hitting the beach is stress relief. As soon as you exit your vehicle and step out into the sun, you feel the calming effects wash over you like water. Both the sun and the waves combined work to completely relax your body, release you from your aches, and free you from daily stresses. Not only is serotonin almost immediately released when you arrive on the beach, (serotonin is a key hormone for relaxation and happiness), but the sound and visuals of the beach and ocean are simply so soothing and peaceful.
It’s for the calming effects of the sound that crashing waves are often chosen for sleep machines. Additionally, light therapy is something that’s actually prescribed by doctors and therapists to help patient’s combat anxiety and stress.
- You’ll always get a better sleep after a day at the beach.
After just a few hours at the beach one of the greatest benefits a person will experience is a truly wonderful night’s sleep later. For insomnia sufferers looking for a natural remedy, the beach is a definite recommendation. It’s because the beach helps relieve three key factors that inhibit sleep: high stress and anxiety levels, lack of physical fatigue, and hormonal imbalances.
Not only do you feel immediately relaxed upon setting foot on the beach, but you get a great exercise even from just walking on the beach! Additionally, the sun and lowered stress levels immediately help regulate a person’s hormones – making it far easier later that night to get a peaceful and deep sleep.
- Get your daily amount of vitamin D in just ten minutes at the beach.
One of the most essential vitamins in our diets is vitamin D; however very little of it is actually absorbed through the consumption of foods. Yes, you may have vitamin D enriched milk, but it’s often not enough for our bodies to absorb the appropriate amount on a daily basis. Fortunately, spending just ten minutes outside in the sun can actually allow a person to absorb their daily dose of vitamin D directly through their skin!
- Going to the beach can improve your ability to fight off infections.
You may have experienced it previously – that painful sting when an open wound is exposed to salt water. Fortunately that pain is a sign that your wound is actually being cleansed by the water. Salt water has unique antibacterial and antifungal properties making it excellent for external infections; however it also helps internal infections as well.
The iodine in ocean water, which has other benefits we’ll discuss in point nine, actually is a fantastic immune system booster. It not only is highly antiseptic (it’s used in hospitals and surgeries all the time), but it helps boost the function of the thyroid gland which, in turn, boosts our immune system’s function.
- Enjoy endless opportunities to exercise when you’re out at the beach.
Whether you’re looking to lose weight, stay in shape, or even just get rid of some pent up energy, you’ll find that the best place to do so is the beach. The beach is perfect simply because there are so many possible outlets. You can head out into the water and surf or swim, or you can even stay on the beach and walk around collecting shells. Surprisingly, walking on sand is actually quite difficult and utilizes more muscles than walking on normal pavement does – even more so if you take off your shoes and walk with bare feet!
- Going to the beach is like getting a beauty treatment for your skin.
The beach and ocean water truly has an amazingly positive effect on the overall health and appearance of skin. We’re not talking about baking yourself in the sun until you’re leathery tan (please wear sunscreen!), instead we’re focusing on the antibacterial and detoxification properties of the elements.
- Exfoliate – the sand does a wondrous job exfoliating our feet, hands, and body. Nothing removes dead skin cells quite like course bits of sand does!
- Detoxify – once the warm sun opens up our pores, the salt water is then able to go in and pull out the toxins. No more blemishes, uneven skin, or excess oils!
- Antibacterial – next, the iodine and salt in the water work to completely destroy bacteria and fungi on your skin that cause breakouts.
- Reduce inflammation and pain with water aerobics.
Water aerobics are, by far, the easiest aerobic activity for the elderly, individuals with joint pain, arthritis, or have recently been in surgery. This is because the water offers a great deal of resistance without any impact at all and actually reduces the weight of a person submerged in water by around ninety percent.
- Enjoy being able to breathe easier during and after a day at the beach.
The natural inclination to inhale deeply when you first step on the beach is actually an automatic response to the quality of the air. Individuals with asthma, COPD, or breathing difficulties will find that it’s far easier to breathe when on the beach, than almost anywhere else. This is because not only are the chest muscles surrounding the lungs relaxed when a person steps onto the beach, but the air itself is actually charged with negative ions that work to increase oxygen absorption in the lungs.
- Increase your body’s levels of iodine by swimming in sea or ocean water.
Iodine is actually a supplement individuals take because of all its health benefits on the body. Having adequate levels of iodine in the body ensures that energy levels and metabolic rates are optimal, that hair and nail growth is at its peak, and that hormone levels are regulated. Iodine, surprisingly, also is taken for its anti-carcinogenic properties and for the fact that it can help reduce fibrocystic disease symptoms.
Fortunately for those who want to maintain the optimal levels of iodine in their bodies, heading out into the ocean or sea water is a great way to do so! Iodine is naturally present in the water because of the living organisms within it. While it’s not possible to say the exact amount of iodine present in the water, this essential supplement is absorbed through your skin when you swim.
- Connect with yourself and spirit at the beach.
Whether you’re religious or not, heading to the beach can put you in touch with your spirit and consciousness. The vastness of the ocean, expansive horizon, and beauty of the surroundings makes you truly appreciate nature. Additionally, it’s when we’re so surrounded by nature and beauty that we can feel at peace and release ourselves from the daily stresses and troubles in the modernized world. Practicing a bit of meditation or yoga on the beach is highly recommended as there is no better place in the world to truly feel at one with the earth and ourselves.
As you can see, hitting the beach is something that truly has endless benefits. In fact, these benefits aren’t anything new; they have been known for hundreds of years. Even before the 1800’s, physicians have been “prescribing” patients with vacations to the beach to help combat various ailments such as depression, anxiety, stress, arthritis, and more. So, the next time you’ve had a particularly stressful week at work, have completed a strenuous year of schooling, or are just feeling less than fantastic on a certain day, take some time off and hit the beach – it’s the doctor’s orders!