by Henry Moore
It’s no secret that a day lounging on the beach can make you feel restored and refreshed. Now, science says there’s a reason…
According to Huffington Post Staff Writer Tanya Lewis, people tend to relax at the beach. That’s no surprise, but what is interesting is that people who live by the coast are healthier than their land-locked cousins. But you don’t have to make your home on the Gulf to benefit. Whether it’s the fresh air, the atmosphere, or the sunshine, even a long weekend at the beach can bolster health and wellbeing, especially for those in stressful careers or are economically disadvantaged. Here are just a few reasons why:
Sun = sleep. Studies suggest that exposure to natural light actually helps you achieve deeper and more restful slumber when the sun goes down. Forbes recently posted an article by David DiSalvo, author of What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite, that outlined a research study noting that people who had more natural light slept nearly an hour more each night. And while that doesn’t sound like a great deal more, sleep comes and goes in cycles of 90 minutes, so even a few extra winks can help you complete a full cycle. Harvard University claims that chronic sleep problems can increase a person’s risk of developing a mental illness.
Saltwater delivers magnesium to your body. Magnesium is a little understood nutrient that helps regulate functions throughout the body. One of these appears to be recovery from depression. And, since saltwater is one of the most abundant sources of magnesium on Earth, a dip in the ocean can expose you to this mineral, which the American diet is severely deficient.
Being in the water can ease pain. There is a reason health centers across the country offer water aerobics for elderly patrons. Being in the water provides buoyancy to the body, which takes stress off of achy bones and joints. The ocean is comprised of saltwater, which has a higher density than water in the lake or swimming pool. This means that solid objects, such as humans, can move more freely through the ocean. Since our physical comfort is directly related to our mental health, those who suffer with chronic pain may experience a significant mood boost by swimming out to the nearest sandbar or floating through the bay.
Visiting new locations fills the brain with knowledge. One of the biggest benefits of getting away is giving yourself (and your family) the opportunity to visit places they’ve never seen and to learn about the culture and history of the land. Even if you don’t want to go outside of the country, areas such as the Florida Panhandle and Alabama’s Gulf Coast are great places to relax and learn. For instance, the Orange Beach Indian & Sea Museum offers guests the opportunity to learn about Native American heritage and seafaring life. Exposure to knowledge gives the brain a break by refocusing its attention away from the everyday aspects of our life.
Vacation helps us connect with those who love. Mental health problems run rampant in today’s digital world, where interpersonal connections seem to be lost to Facebook and Facetime. Stepping away from technology, which people are more likely to do when on the beach, helps us regain valuable family time and there is no denying the benefits of that. Vacationing together is especially important for families with young children as it allows parents to focus 100% on their family without distractions related to work, household chores, or other responsibilities.
No matter when or where you choose to go, travel is important for both your mental and physical health. So book a week or book a weekend, but don’t skip your away-from-home R&R.