Everyone’s talking about it: the sun! Yes, if you live in England, you may well have noticed this big burning ball of yellow in the sky that we haven’t seen for a long time! And how glorious it is! So much so that just the other day I hurried down to the beach to enjoy a run along the seafront, followed by a coffee sat on the sand. It was pure bliss, and there’s good reason for it too! This blog is all about the health benefits of the ocean, and why it feels so blooming wonderful to take a walk (or a dip) in the blissful blue.
1. Ocean air lowers stress
Ocean air contains negative ions, which help your body absorb oxygen whilst balancing seratonin levels. Seratonin is a chemical with numerous functions, including regulating mood & behaviour, hunger levels, digestion, sleep, memory and sexual desire. Basically, it’s the happy hormone, and when in check, leaves you feeling great! So get some deep lungfuls of that sea air whenever you get the chance!
Not only that, but the salt in the air is also really beneficial to our health. It’s great for the respiratory system, thus helping alleviate symptoms for those suffering with respiratory illness and diseases such as asthma.
2. Seawater is awesome
Water in the ocean contains many more minerals than other sources, like river water for example. The addition of sodium, calcium, magnesium and many more are fantastic for the skin and can help with conditions such as psoriasis, whilst the mineral salts can also be beneficial for cuts and wounds, though be cautious and make sure they are not open to infection.
The water also provides a natural saline solution for clearing out the sinuses, and can help those suffering with hay fever and other respiratory symptoms – so be sure to take a dive under the water if you do take a dip!
3. You’ll get more Vitamin D
Naturally, when the sun comes out you want to be at the beach! And getting out in the sunshine boosts levels of Vitamin D, something found in sunlight and difficult to find through dietary sources. Vitamin D is vital for bone health, with many Brits being advised to take a supplement during winter months, so the moment the clouds part, get yourself to the beach (or just outside really!) and get those rays on your skin! The NHS recommends being out in the sun for short periods, with forearms, lower legs or hands uncovered without sun cream, from late March until early September, in order to make enough of the vitamin. Be sure to take care of your skin, applying sun cream and covering up before your skin begins to turn red or burn.
4. Give cold water a chance!
As enticing as it is, it’s not just on sunny days that you should get yourself to the water. Although winter sun does not give enough UVB rays to give us vitamin D, you will still benefit from taking a dip in the cold water during those chilly winter months. Cold water swimming evokes a stress response, increasing the heart rate and blood pressure, causing hyperventilation and releasing stress hormones. Doesn’t sound great huh? Hear me out: Making cold water swimming a regular habit helps to diminish this response, so although we will still experience this response when we need to, we will find it easier to deal with the stresses of day to day life!
As well as this, studies have shown that cold water swimming also has other health benefits, like reducing inflammation (the cause of many illnesses in the human body).
5. Exercise is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle
Swimming in the sea is great for our health in the ways I’ve already mentioned, but of course living an active lifestyle is vital for our physical and mental wellbeing. Regular exercise boosts endorphins and helps maintain fitness, and exercising in or near to the ocean is the (slightly salty) cherry on the cake! I’ve already talked about the health benefits of the ocean air and water, but if you live near the sea, studies by Exeter University have shown that you are more likely to get outside and exercise more regularly, feeling the enticing pull of a coastal walk or bob in the waves!
6. It provides the ‘zen’ factor
I don’t know about you, but for me, staring out at the horizon definitely brings me a sense of happiness and calm. It’s probably caused by all of the above factors, but there’s few things I find more relaxing than gazing out at the ocean, sand in between my toes. Mindfulness and meditation
are essential for great mental wellbeing, so consider finding a happy place of your own where you can take a moment to be still and let your mind go quiet.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about these benefits of the ocean! As I write this, it’s currently raining, which is rather disappointing after spending yesterday afternoon sat in a beer garden overlooking the estuary with friends! But ah well, that’s British weather for you! What I do know is that the next moment the sun’s out, I’ll be enjoying myself by the water once again!