New Jersey residents know: Down the shore, everything’s alright. A day at the beach or a walk on the boardwalk is the perfect remedy for a difficult work week. But not only does the beach make you feel happier, it also has real benefits for your physical and mental health. Let’s look at some of the scientifically proven benefits of spending time at the beach.
Getting your vitamin D
Vitamin D is a nutrient that your body produces when your skin comes into contact with UV sunlight. Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones, and may protect against heart attacks, certain cancers and autoimmune diseases.
Although dermatologists have been encouraging us to always use sunblock, there is increasing evidence that a moderate amount of unprotected sun exposure improves health. Unfortunately, developing a standard recommendation for sun exposure is difficult, because the amount you need depends on your complexion.
Dr. Robyn Lucas, an epidemiologist at Australian National University who has studied the health benefits and risks of sun exposure, recommends the following:
“If you’re fair skinned and sunning yourself outside in a bathing suit at noon, you only need a few minutes without sunscreen. If you’re already tan or of Hispanic origin, you need maybe 15 to 20 minutes. Black skin may require six times the sun exposure to make the same vitamin D levels as a very fair-skinned person, but we need more research on this…”
Salt Water Soothes the Skin
If you suffer from inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema, swimming in salt water may provide relief. One study found that swimming in the Dead Sea was a highly effective treatment for psoriasis. This may be because seawater has high amounts of minerals which act as antiseptics and promote healthy immune function. Which means that extra beach trip for one last swim before summer ends is good for you.
Swimming in Cold Water Promotes Health
There is some research to indicate that swimming in cold water has health benefits. A study on Finnish men and women who regularly went swimming during the winter found that cold water swimming may relieve tension and fatigue, and even alleviate pain caused by rheumatism and asthma.
Now, there’s a big difference between the water temperature in Finland in the winter and at the Jersey shore beaches in the summer. But right now, the ocean is still pretty chilly, so you might still find it quite invigorating.
It’s no secret that chronic stress can negatively impact your mental and physical health. Going to the beach can help relieve stress that you might be experiencing from work or family life.
There is plenty of evidence that spending time in nature lowers stress levels. Most of these studies have been done on wooded environments, but the beach may have its own benefits. Marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols wrote a whole book on the psychological benefits of being in or near water. According to Nichols, humans enter a relaxed, mildly meditative state, which boosts our happiness and wellbeing.
With so many potential health benefits of beach going, we should be thankful that New Jersey has some of the most beautiful beaches on the eastern seaboard. So what are you waiting for? Grab your umbrella and your beach read, and head on down to the shore.
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albertobrian / Adobe Stock
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