After a day spent at the beach, do you feel better? More relaxed? Many people do, and researchers in the United Kingdom have extrapolated that people who live by the beach are healthier than those who live inland. This is good news for the half of the American population that lives within 50 miles of the coast.
Researchers from the European Centre for Environment and Human Health, Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry, and the University of Exeter found that people were more likely to have good health the closer they lived to the sea. What’s more, that link was strongest for people living in economically disadvantaged communities, prompting the scientists to believe that living in such environments may aid with the disparities in health care among economic classes.
The researchers analyzed data from England’s 2001 census, which provided responses from 48 million people. They looked specifically at people who reported their health as being “Good,” as opposed to “Fairly Good” or “Not Good” and looked at how close they lived to the beach. They also controlled for age, sex and a host of social and economic factors.
They found that people’s health was better the closer that they lived to the coast. While the effect was small, the public health impact could be immensely consequential. Researchers suggest that the benefits may lie in a more active lifestyle or in the stress reduction that comes from living by water. Another recent study conducted by the Centre, in conjunction with Natural England, found that people reported feeling more relaxed and reinvigorated after a visit to the beach, over a visit to the countryside or to a city park.
The researchers were careful to note that they had not determined the cause for this effect, and that causation does not equal correlation. They also said that further research needed to be conducted on the matter.