November 1, 2021

Why a Healthy Ocean Lifestyle is Best

We all know that living near the ocean can be highly desirable and even enviable and has a number of positive benefits, whether it be the close proximity to the beach to enjoy a leisurely afternoon swim or a late afternoon walk. Do we even need to mention the views? These are a given right? Looking out through the window or over the balcony and seeing where sand and land meets the deep blue of the ocean and hearing the gentle crashing of waves as they break over sand, it is no wonder that for many Australians their preference for a holiday is to go somewhere near the coast and of course there is the ever popular term “beach house”. Apart from the more popular benefits of living by the ocean, there are a number of lesser known benefits to our health both physical and mental, and overall lifestyle by living in close proximity to the ocean. Let’s explore some of these health benefits.

The Power of Blue Spaces

Blue space is essentially any area where there is an abundance of water, this can be large creeks, rivers, lakes and of course the biggest blue space of them all, the ocean which covers approximately 71% of planet Earth. Scientific studies and research has shown that living in close proximity to ‘blue spaces’ and more specifically the ocean can have a myriad of health benefits and history has shown that the ocean has form in regards to medicinal and healing benefits stretching as far back as the 16th century, and even though some of the medicinal properties of the ocean back then (such as drinking sea water mixed with honey or milk) definitely would never be recommended today, they seemed to do the trick back then.

On the Northern Beaches we are lucky in that we are literally surrounded by blue spaces with multiple and large bodies of water, from the South where the world’s most beautiful harbour meets the shores of Manly, to the North where the Barrenjoey headland meets with Broken Bay, to the East where the coast is surrounded by the South Pacific Ocean to the North West with the inland water mass of Pittwater and with other notable bodies of water including Manly Dam and Narrabeen Lake.

Physical Activity

There is a strong correlation between coastal life and exercise with those living near the ocean more likely to get outside and exercise and as such it has been shown that those who live by the ocean are often healthier and fitter than those who live in other locations. And who could blame those who live close to the ocean, with so many fun and healthy physical options available that can be done individually or shared with others and a group. Simply head down to any one of the beautiful Northern Beaches on a sunny summer weekend morning and you will expect to see a hive of activity and exercise with everything ranging from people having a casual swim in one of the many coastal pools, those engaging in more extreme activities such as surfing, those going for a run or even just a leisurely stroll along the beach or nearby walking track, sporting competitions taking place such as nippers, those practising yoga on the sand, those taking to the skies and flying a kite or even those engaging in a weekend round of golf.

Mental Health

You don’t even need to get your feet wet or sand between your toes for the ocean to have a positive impact on your mental health, simply being near the ocean and even just having a view of the ocean can be relaxing and uplifting for the mind and soul. It has been demonstrated that even just a view of clear blue waters is shown to increase levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, which help increase mood and reduce stress, anxiety and depression. A recent study of 26,000 people in the UK showed that those who live less than one kilometre from the ocean are 22% less likely to have mental health symptoms than those living over fifty kilometres away.

As well as positive benefits for mental health, the ocean also has an influence on decreasing stress levels and increasing calmness, this can be observed by the same manner in which the ocean can act as a regulator and influence various neurotransmitters as well as calming of the nervous system. Simply hearing and seeing ocean waves mixed in with a cool and clear salty ocean breeze is enough to reduce stress levels and promote relaxation. There is a reason why some people with sleeping problems listen to the sound of waves prior to bedtime to help them fall asleep.

The Sea Breeze

Ah the smell of the beach! When you open your nostrils and get a lovely big whiff of a cool sea-breeze not only is it rewarding for the sense of smell, however it is also extremely good for your health too. The sea air is significantly cleaner and much less polluted than air in other parts of the land with this mainly being due to the large open areas and more negative ions being present in sea air, the larger amount of negative ions having a positive impact on a number of neurotransmitters. Sea air also has a significantly higher amount of oxygen present than other forms of air from other environments and this will mean that your blood will become richer with oxygen quicker which is good for the repair, creation and healthy functioning of red blood cells, which in turn will have a positive impact on energy levels.

Not only is the sea air good for energy levels, however it is also good for relaxation and the immune system. Plants that grow near water will abundantly give off a natural chemical called Phytoncides with the main benefit of these being an increase in white blood cell count as we breathe them in and this higher white blood cell count leads to a stronger immune system and as such a decreased chance of sickness. The sea-breeze also contains high levels of iodine and magnesium with these both being naturally relaxing and can both increase general relaxation and help promote a more restful night's sleep.

Sea air has also been shown to contain a small mist of saline water (or salt water), and this has been proven to have a soothing effect on the respiratory system in general and more specifically the mucosal lining. People with certain respiratory conditions such as sinusitis, bronchitis and other forms of COPD as well as those with asthma and certain skin conditions such as eczema are likely to benefit from and see improvements in these conditions from the salinity in salty sea air.

Stronger Immune System & Better Healing

Being close to the ocean and blue spaces has a number of direct and indirect benefits on the immune system and healing of the body in general. As has been previously mentioned the ocean has an overall positive impact on mental health and this in turn will lead to a flow on effect of increased physical health and a better and stronger functioning immune system. The positive effects from the clearer and more concentrated oxygen that is present in the sea’s air improves the immune system and healing through an increased white blood cell count and the increased red blood cell count from having more oxygen in the blood will also help healing especially of open wounds.

Another benefit that being in close proximity to the ocean has is an increased level of vitamin D absorption, this is likely due to the higher physical activity of those who live near the ocean and spending more time outdoors. Vitamin D is crucial for healthy bones and teeth (especially as we get older), however there are also a number of other benefits such as a reduction in levels of inflammation within the body, a reduction in hypertension for those who have it and will result in a lower blood pressure.

Sea water itself is great for overall health and especially skin health with this being attributed to the anti-inflammatory benefits with sea water containing high levels of minerals such as; iodine, potassium, magnesium, chloride and sulphur with many people with skin conditions such as eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis seeing improvements in these conditions. It is of no surprise that those living within close proximity of the coast will spend more time in the sea's water than those living further inland. 

A Step Towards The Ocean Lifestyle

As can be seen without argument and doubt, there are multiple benefits of living a healthy ocean lifestyle and the best way to live this healthy lifestyle and reap maximum reward is by living in proximity to the ocean and blue spaces. At Clarke & Humel we can help you take the first step towards improving your lifestyle and reaping the multiple benefits of living by the ocean by helping you find the perfect place to buy or rent on the Northern Beaches today.