We are lucky to live on such a beautiful island with easy access to our stunning beaches. Waves gently crashing along the shore. Sunlight streaming from a cloudless sky. Miles of seemingly endless sand joined the horizon. Sounds pretty peaceful, doesn’t it? And for many of us who spend most weekday hours indoors, it doesn’t take much persuasion to peel off the layers and catch some sun.
But if you do need more reasons to hit the beach, find out how the sun, sand, and surf can boost your physical and mental health:
Health Benefits of the Beach.
“Studies have shown that natural environments like beaches and waterfront parks offer more restorative benefits to people than gyms, entertainment venues, and the built urban environment.”
We all know the risks of too much sun exposure. But there are benefits of getting some rays too. When our skin is directly exposed to the sun, our bodies make Vitamin D, a vital tool that helps with calcium absorption and building strong bones. Some of it comes from diet, but a good portion also comes from the sun. According to the Mayo Clinic, as little as 10 minutes of sun exposure can provide us with our daily dose.
In one study, sun exposure was shown to offer other benefits in addition to vitamin D production — including an increase in endorphins and possible prevention of autoimmune diseases.
But despite these benefits, limit your exposure to excessive sunlight to avoid skin cancer risks. When you do head out into the sun for more than a few minutes, remember to wear protective clothing and apply sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher.
Did you know that the soles of your feet have more sweat glands and nerve endings per square centimeter than any other part of your body? And that walking barefoot stimulates them much more than walking in shoes?
Not only are you stimulating nerve endings when you walk on the sand, but you’re also strengthening the muscles in your feet, which don’t get used nearly as much when you’re wearing shoes. And according to Martin Zucker, author of Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever? you may be better connected to the earth when you ditch your shoes, reaping vital mood-boosting benefits. “Earthing” argues Zucker, reconnects our bodies to the ever-present energy of the earth, which modern lifestyles have increasingly diminished.
In a study focused on running and walking on the sand, researchers found that walking on sand requires 1.6 to 2.5 times the energy than it takes on a hard surface.
“Our muscles perform more mechanical work when running or walking on sand than on a hard surface.”
– Dr. Thierry M. Lejeune, M.D.
If treading on the unwieldy sand for too long sounds tiring, try alternating your walk or running on the more compact sand closer to the water, where the surface will be less challenging.
Sea water contains high levels of various minerals — including magnesium, potassium, and iodine— which may help fight infection, offer therapeutic effects, and potentially help the body heal and detoxify.
Swimming is linked to decreased stress and increased sense of well-being; studies have shown swimming and water-based exercise help to decrease anxiety and depression. Aside from its therapeutic effects, swimming provides excellent physical exercise, employing most of our major muscle groups, especially as the water provides gentle resistance.Back to resources