Ever wonder why people love vacationing on the beach so much? It's not just a passion for sand castles and parasailing. Being near water is good for your brain.
Surf City, Here We Come
Just seeing water is enough to make you feel happier and healthier. That's the conclusion of a study carried out by researchers working with the European Centre for Environment and Human Health. The study was actually an update of an older test, which measured people's stress levels while they were exposed to "green spaces" — landscapes full of plant life, basically. But in this new experiment, the researchers added "blue spaces" — water — to the equation. The result was clear: whether it was an ocean, a river, or even just a fountain, people felt better when they were looking at water. And the more water they saw, the better they felt.
So that's what happens when you show people pictures of serene beaches and gentle waves. But what about actual, real-life water? As you can probably guess, the effect is even stronger. Research carried out in New Zealand found a correlation between how much water people could see and the state of their mental health. They determined how much blue space residents had in their lives by looking at their home's proximity to the coast, their elevation, and other factors. The result? The more water they could see, the better people felt. That's even when you account for other factors, such as income and local crime. So if it's peace of mind you're seeking, get thee to a waterside cabana.
Beach Vacation, Doctor's Orders
So water makes you happier. But would you believe that it makes you healthier, too? When considering both green and blue spaces, a 2015 study found that the more you have, the better your physical health. The mental health aspect plays a pretty big role in that, but it certainly doesn't hurt that the more beautiful your surroundings, the more likely you are to get outside and be active.