4 Science-backed reasons why spending time at the beach is good for your body and mind…
Summer is around the corner and it’s nearly time to pack away the Winter woollies and dust off our beach towels for another sunshine season. We are very lucky at Pine Lodge Resort to enjoy a uniquely serene stretch of coastline within the access-controlled Cape Recife Nature Reserve. A beach free from the buzz of tourists and locals who tend to find themselves, seemingly all at once, strolling down the beaches further East.
This got us thinking about why people are so drawn to the sea, and we stumbled upon some exciting new research. As it turns out, spending time at the beach can have real benefits for your mind and body, and it’s got a lot to do with our senses.
Check out these 4 benefits of spending your time sea-side.
Blue doesn’t make you blue
In this modern age of advertising, it’s common knowledge that colours can effect our mood and evoke different emotional and physiological responses. Some of the biggest brands in the world recognise the power of colour. From the iconic red of KFC, Coca-cola and Virgin, to the green of Android, Animal Planet and Starbucks.
According to Dr Linda Mayer and Prof Rashid Bhikha in their study, The Psycology of Colour:
“Blue stimulates the anterior hypothalamus, which contains the main regulating part of the parasympathetic nervous system. This means that all colours in the bluish spectrum from blue/green to blue and violet, normally have a sedating, digestion-activating, sleep-inducing effect.”
Incredibly, stimulation of this region of the brain reduces blood pressure and slows heart rate. It quite literally calms you down. This is why staring out at the ocean and the backdrop of the blue horizon, actually changes our brain waves’ frequency. Nature’s true-blue anti-depressant!
Take a deep breath
Everyone loves that smell of damp, salty sea air. Having lived in a landlocked little town in Central South Africa for the last few years, this was one of my favourite parts of coming home. I could smell the sea before I could see it. As it turns out, there is probably a subconscious, biological reason for our enjoyment of that sea smell. As early as 1932, research has shown that negative ions (oxygen ions with an extra electron attached), which are produced via water molecules and are abundant in air next to large bodies of water, have a very strong anti-depressant effect. Similar negative ions saturate the air after a thunder storm – Another smell most people enjoy. Coincidence?
Listen to Crashing Waves
Ever wondered why lullabies work wonders when trying to get a baby to sleep? Repetition. Slow, repetitive sounds, like the crashing of waves, are proven to help ease restlessness. “These slow, whooshing noises are the sounds of non-threats, which is why they work to calm people,” says Orfeu Buxton, an associate professor of biobehavioral health at Pennsylvania State University. The sound of waves can help you achieve a relaxed, zen-like state, which is proven to heal and strengthen your brain.
Feel the Sand Between Your Toes
Grounding, or sustained contact with the earth by walking barefoot, is proven to have great benefits to the body and mind, with a particularly strong effect on inflammation. According to the US National Library of Medicine, ” Multi-disciplinary research has revealed that electrically conductive contact of the human body with the surface of the Earth (grounding or earthing) produces intriguing effects on physiology and health. Such effects relate to inflammation, immune responses, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.”
So wiggling your toes in the sand is not just fun, it’s good for your health, too. What a time to be alive!
“There are all these cognitive and emotional benefits that we derive every time we spend time by water” said Wallace J. Nichols, a marine biologist and best-selling author of the Blue Mind. “Once you get into it, you realize that it’s chemistry, it’s biology, it’s physiology. It’s deeply personal but it’s also strong science.”
In 2012, a University of Exeter study found that simply living within close proximity to a beach improves one’s health and well-being. While not all of us can afford to take the leap into seaside property, I think it’s fair to say we should all prioritise getting outdoors and spending time near the ocean a little more often.
To enquire about Cape Recife Trails, BaseCamp Guided Nature Walks or Adventure Hikes through the Cape Recife Nature Reserve, please contact Luke at Pine Lodge Resort on 041 583 4004 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For accommodation enquiries please contact email@example.com, or visit the Pine Lodge website.