The peaceful feeling that some of us get after a nice, long walk on the beach can be a serene escape from the hum of everyday life. Emerging research is unpacking the positive health effects of beaches, lakes, and other water bodies. They find that brief walks along the water can certainly positively impact our overall well-being and mood. For this study, a team of researchers gathered a group of 59 healthy adults.
For their first week, participants walked in the water by a lake for 20 minutes every day. Then, for the next week, they spent 20 minutes walking in a city every day. For their last week, those 20 minutes were spent resting indoors. After the different walks, researchers asked the participants questions about their mood and well-being. They collected data about their blood pressure and heart rate. They concluded that those who walked by the water experienced mental health improvements and overall vitality. However, cardiovascular health did not seem to change between the environments.
This only adds to the growing body of research supporting the fact that time in nature is significant to overall health. Previous studies show that connecting with the outdoors can reduce anxiety and stress. And while we may not need science to justify our love for the beach, studies like this can help incentivize policy. The more clear the health benefits of water, the more inclined policymakers will be to implement programs that make it more accessible to the general public—especially those who live in urban areas. “According to the UN,” Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, a researcher in the study, says, “more than half of the global population now live in cities. It is imperative to identify and enhance elements that improve our health so that we can build healthier, more sustainable, and more livable cities.” Not only are more and more people living in urban places, but people live with a tremendous amount of stress nowadays. If you are fortunate to have access to a water body, be sure to visit it as often as you can, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Doing so might pay dividends for your stress levels and overall mood.