Leanna Coy, FNP-C
Not Just a Day at the Beach
You see a day at the beach. The sun shines down warming the sand as the ocean gently pushes waves to the shore. I see treatments for mental and physical health. I also see detachment from electronics. Hands and minds are free to fly kites and explore sand castles. Throw in some warm sand between your toes, and it is perfection.
Health Benefits of A Day at the Beach
Increased Physical Activity
Many people spend the majority of their day sitting. Whether someone sits all day for work or just due to general inactivity, hours are spent physically inactive during the day. Spending time at the beach increases physical activity in many ways. Walking along the water, swimming in the ocean, or playing volleyball are all activities seen during a typical day at the beach.
Increased physical activity improves overall health by decreasing the risk of heart disease, lowering blood pressure, and decreasing obesity.
Walking has been described as a near-perfect exercise as it is available to almost everyone, requires no equipment, and can be done in small increments while still providing health benefits. Studies show walking just 15 minutes a day can lower heart disease risk by 19%.
Physical activity boosts serotonin, the body’s “feel good” hormone.
Staying active during the day improves sleep by helping the body feel naturally fatigued.
Exposure to Nature
Spending time outdoors in natural spaces and listening to natural sounds, like the ocean, reduces stress.
A reduction in stress helps to relieve inflammation. Inflammation contributes to multiple health issues such as asthma, arthritis, and heart disease.
Breathing in fresh air is nature’s aromatherapy.
Sunshine is known to boost vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential in keeping your bones healthy to reduce the risk of fractures and the development of osteoporosis later in life.
The benefits to your mental health are evident with as little as 15 minutes spent outdoors. Imagine the benefits to your health after a few hours spent relaxing in the sand.
Activities such as walking barefoot in the sand or splashing in the water can increase mental health benefits.
Researchers report exposure to an ocean environment is good for mental health. Just the sound of the water is calming. This is why ocean sounds are frequently used on white noise machines utilized for sleep or relaxation.
Symptoms of anxiety and depression begin to decline by spending time in natural environments. The boost of vitamin D from sun exposure can also reduce symptoms of depression.
Yes, most everyone will still have a cell phone at the beach these days. However, multi-tasking with multiple other electronic devices such as a computer, tablet, or television is rare when you are spending the day in the sand.
Concentration and focus are improved by not multi-tasking. You can really pay attention to people around you when fewer distractions are pulling your attention away.
Connecting with people around you improves emotional health and helps promote a sense of community.
Don’t forget about your eyes. Taking a break from screens reduces eye strain and dry eye symptoms.
The next time you are contemplating whether or not you want to get sand in your shoes and cover yourself with sunblock, remember the beach is not just a place to play. The beach is where you can boost your physical and mental health while enjoying quality time with family or even just “me time.” I’d love to hear your thoughts. What are you doing to get outside for your health this summer? Leave a comment below.