Taking a walk on the beach could help improve your mental health, says study
Yet another reason to ditch the city and move to the seaside: another study has shown that spending time in blue spaces is beneficial for our mental wellbeing.
Like green spaces, blue spaces are natural areas that pose benefits for our physical and mental health.
While green spaces are parks, forests, and anywhere with lots of greenery, blue spaces are those spots by beaches, lakes, rivers, or even fountains. If there’s a decently sized body of water, that’s a blue space.
Previous studies have suggested that living by the sea could make you happier, and now new research backs up that claim.
Researchers at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health have found that even just a short walk on the beach can boost mental health and help to tackle depression.
The research team surveyed around 60 people before, during and after spending 20 minutes a day in different urban environments over the course of three weeks.
During the first week, volunteers were asked to spend 20 minutes a day walking along Barcelona’s beach front.
During the second week, they were asked to do the same, but this time walk along the city’s streets away from the water.
During the final week, participants were asked to spend 20 minutes a day resting indoors.
The researchers measured participants’ blood pressure and heart rate alongside a questionnaire to determine their level of wellbeing and mood.
While the water-walks did not yield any heart-health benefits, people reported being in better mood, having more vitality and stronger mental health.
Lead author doctoral student Cristina Vert ISGlobal said: ‘We assessed the immediate effects of taking a short walk along a blue space.
‘Continuous, long-lasting exposure to these spaces might have positive effects on cardiovascular health that we were not able to observe in this study.
‘Our results show that the psychological benefits of physical activity vary according to the type of environment where it is carried out, and that blue spaces are better than urban spaces in this regard.’
Research Coordinator Dr Mark Nieuwenhuijsen added: ‘We saw a significant improvement in the participants’ well-being and mood immediately after they went for a walk in the blue space, compared with walking in an urban environment or resting.
‘Specifically, after taking a short walk on the beach in Barcelona, participants reported improvements in their mood, vitality and mental health.
‘According to the United Nations, 55% of the global population now lives in cities.
‘It is crucial to identify and enhance elements that improve our health–such as blue spaces–so that we can create healthier, more sustainable and more liveable cities.’
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