BEACH, PLEASE help me calm down... STRENGTHEN MY LEGS... BRING ME CLOSER TO THE PEOPLE I LOVE . BUT BEACH , PLEASE DON’T burn my skin. OR WRECK MY ANKLES. OR CRUSH MY CONFIDENCE,
This isn’t your average summer guide. It’s a deep dive into the wishgranting wellness powers of sand, salt and spray— plus solutions to the beach’s most common health risks—with psychologists, exercise physiologists and dermatologists (plus
Baywatch star and one-piece aficionado Alexandra Daddario!) guiding the way. Whether you’re planning a seaside vacation or a day trip to the shore, we’ll show you how to harness the best and ward off the worst, to emerge your happiest, healthiest, hottest self.
Researchers are starting to catch up to what we know intuitively. Being in and even near the water makes us feel happier, and actually healthier.”
FOR OUR GENERATION
there may be no more prominent cultural touchpoint for the beach than Baywatch. Love it or hate it, the series shaped our perceptions of the shore for a full decade, cementing the beach as a backdrop for fun, sex appeal and— as in the movie reboot—appearances by the Ho . But a growing wave of scientific data is uncovering a role that’s deeper, even profound: That “blue spaces” such as oceans and lakes have major mental and physical benefits just waiting to be tapped. “Researchers are starting to catch up to what we know intuitively,” says Wallace J Nichols, PHD, a marine biologist whose Blue Mind Summits bring neuroscientists, psychologists and ocean advocates together to study and discuss the phenomenon. “Being in and even near the water makes us feel happier, and actually healthier.”
You don’t have to get wet to reap the mood-boosting e ects. A recent study found that living within sight of water is linked to lower stress levels. Researchers also discovered that people who could see blue spaces from their homes were less likely to have mental health issues—in fact, they had fewer than those living near green spaces. And another study suggests that spending time around city fountains or park ponds can make people feel more peaceful and restored. Your Tahiti screen saver? Even that can slash anxiety with a quick hit of that blissfully meditative state.
Beyond the shore’s mental benefits, its physically therapeutic prowess has been part of island lore for generations—and now, experts feel confident in its legitimacy. Docs recommend that people with allergies or asthma inhale salty air to help them breathe easier. And thanks to its high mineral content, salt water may encourage wounds to heal faster, reduce inflammation and help muscles bounce back after a workout. Research has also found that the sound of waves can help you fall—and stay—asleep, even if you’re listening to a recording, because the crashing waves shut out other noises and elicit positive, calming memories of the beach.
The health e ects multiply if you swim, surf or otherwise sweat near an ocean, beach or river. “My patients who live by Lake Michigan tend to be more interested in running and walking, and they’re often more fit,” notes Dr Marie Altimari, a family medicine physician at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago. That’s not just her opinion: Researchers at the University of Exeter Medical School in England, who are studying what they call the “blue gym,” have learned that people who live by a coast are more likely to be physically active than those who don’t, and less likely to be deficient in vitamin D, known as the “sunshine” vitamin because our bodies create it when our skin is exposed to sunlight. That last bit is crucial, as multiple studies show that low D levels raise your risk for depression—by up to 85 percent.
And while we must note that the shore isn’t without potential hazards—like eye irritation, jellyfish stings and dehydration— they can all be managed by simply knowing how to protect yourself, which we’ll help you do throughout this story. So go ahead, bask in the sun, in the sand, in the sea… and soak up all its transcendent perks.