We need look no further than a visit to the local beach to know that the best things in life really are free!
You know the feeling … you secure a beachside carpark, throw open your door, set foot on the sand, inhale deeply and smile.
Well, as it turns out, there are a number of scientific reasons contributing to your coastal happiness at any one time.
Read on to find out how a beach visit can benefit your mind, body and soul.
The waves are delivering a powerful positivity boost!
The constant falling and splashing of the ocean generates negatively charged ions, which are an essential aide for good health.
The abundance of positively charged molecules in our daily lives is a consequence of the many electronics we store and use in our homes and offices.
But the good news is that negatively charged ions, which can help to cancel out the impact and kill germs, are plentiful in natural settings alongside fresh, flowing water such as rivers, streams, oceans and waterfalls.
In stark contrast to an office environment, which may range from zero to a few hundred negative ions per cubic centimetre, an active ocean can deliver as many as tens of thousands in the same small area!
It’s an ideal location to “ground” ourselves
While our ancestors spent much more time outdoors and barefoot, our modern lives have us regularly indoors, in shoes and increasingly exposed to electromagnetic radiation.
Walking barefoot in the sand – particularly damp or wet sand - is one of the simplest and most enjoyable ways that we can reconnect (or “ground”) ourselves with nature.
Studies highlight the connection between enabling our bodies to absorb the earth’s electrical energy through our feet and cancelling out the positive electrons and free radicals that have built up in our bodies.
Freeing ourselves from the confines of shoes also gives us a stimulating massage for the thousands of nerve endings in our feet as the sand conforms to the shape of our toes and arches.
The expansive scenery prompts self-reflection
Nature’s beauty has an uncanny ability to remind us of just how small we are
By prompting our thoughts, the beauty of the beach allows us to become introspective, and when examining ourselves more closely, we have the opportunity to celebrate our strengths, acknowledge our negative patterns, refine or renew our focus, detach from things we can’t control, define our personal aspirations and make the commitment to necessary shifts to ensure our happiness and wellbeing.
The fresh air nurtures our parasympathetic nervous system
The “deep breathing” instinct that overcomes us on arrival at the beach is a reaction to the improved air quality at the beach. But the benefits don’t stop there…
Deep breathing is celebrated for its effects on our parasympathetic nervous system.
In times of stress, our heart rate and respiration rapidly increase as our sympathetic nervous system takes over.
By deep breathing through stress, we can convince the body that it is safe from immediate danger and assist the parasympathetic nervous system to regain control.
Alternate breaths of the fresh ocean air between breathing in for two seconds, holding for six seconds and releasing over seven seconds for the biggest impact.
The sunshine is feeding you vital nutrients
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and it differs from other vitamins because it is primarily created by our bodies when we are exposed to sunlight. In fact, 80 to 100 percent of the vitamin D we need comes from the sun!
Many studies highlight the distinct links between Vitamin D deficiency and illnesses including (but not limited to) cancer, obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, depression and autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis.
Vitamin D is actually more like a hormone than a vitamin, regulating hundreds of different pathways in our bodies. Furthermore, alongside thyroid hormones, is one of only two hormones required by every cell in our body.
By slightly increasing our direct exposure to sunlight (without sunscreen), we can enjoy improved metabolism, bone strength and organ function, enjoy better sleep and inhibit illness and disease.
While the colour of our skin and our location in the world will vary, a general guide to healthy sun exposure for increased Vitamin D production is between 10 and 45 minutes a day.
If you absolutely cannot go without sunscreen (even for a little while), try applying it to the face and hands, but not the remainder of the body during this short window of time. This will leave enough unexposed skin to properly create the Vitamin D that you need.
Swimming in the ocean bathes away your woes
If you are feeling off, experiencing aches, have a wound or need an energy boost, the ocean may be your one-stop “fix it” shop.
Seawater contains vital elements, vitamins, mineral salts, trace elements, amino acids and living microorganisms that produce antibiotic and antibacterial effects and promote a healthy immune system.
Swimming in warm seawater reportedly activates the body’s healing mechanisms to fight conditions including asthma, arthritis, bronchitis and inflammatory diseases, as well as common aches and pains. The restoration of mineral levels also supports the establishment of a healthy circulatory system.
Magnesium-rich seawater is also said to have muscle relaxing and seep-inducing abilities, as it promotes calmness by relieving nervous tension. Magnesium is also a powerful nutrient for skin hydration.
Our hair, nails and hormone levels all benefit from swimming in the ocean, due to the iodine content. This essential supplement is absorbed through the skin during your dip and is also understood to significantly boost the function of the thyroid.