Love the Beach? New Study Shows Why

Young and old alike love a day at the beach. But until a recent study, it was not clear if visit to the beach was anything more than just fun. Now we know that going to the beach for the day has medicinal benefits for seniors as well as others.

The researchers studied census data among people of all ages in England that lived near the beach, versus those that lived a distance away. Those living nearby reported better overall health.

At first the researchers assumed that since wealthier people tend to live near the beach, that is the factor producing the better health. They soon saw that the opposite was true. It was specifically the lower socioeconomic communities that seemed to have the largest health benefits as well as older people.

Moving to the ocean alone had a beneficial effect on health, about one tenth the effect of getting a new job.

One theory explaining the health benefits states that moving to the beach has a relaxing effect and reduces stress, which promotes health. Living near the beach also encourages additional physical activity, an important factor in anyone’s health, and especially for older people who need to stay as active as possible.

In one experiment, older participants were shown photos of views from hotel rooms. They were then asked how much they would consider paying for each room. The rooms had either ocean views, green meadows, or city scapes. Results showed that hands down the subjects would pay the most for the rooms by the sea.

In another study, the researchers placed seniors in stressful situations, like having dental surgery, and then put them in a virtual beach setting, or a normal dental room. People reported less pain undergoing their surgery if it was conducted in the virtual beach setting.