Yes, Doctor: Five Benefits of UK Seaside Breaks
UK seaside breaks have been linked with health and wellbeing for over two centuries. King George IV used to head to the coast for its invigorating qualities, and his lead was followed by the higher echelons of the Georgian elite, who in turn inspired the masses. The seaside holiday was born, and the link between the coast and health has been there ever since.
But how much of this is scientific fact, and how much is urban legend? Well, researchers from the European Centre for Environment & Human Health at the University of Exeter looked at a UK census of more than 48 million people, and they found that the closer a person lived to the sea, the better their health. So what could be causing this?
Imagine it. You’re on your UK seaside break, lying on the beach, sun warm on your face, soft sand shaping itself to fit the contours of your body. The tang of the sea wafts on the gentle breeze as you listen to the cries of gulls overhead and the soft susurration of waves rushing up onto the shore. All the stresses and strains just flow out of you leaving you completely relaxed. Coincidence? Well, apparently not. Scientists have discovered that the sound of the waves is actually changing the patterns in your brain, smoothing out the stresses and resulting in a more relaxed you.
Have you ever wondered why you seem to sleep better after a day at the beach? It’s because the sea air is charged with negative ions that help accelerate your ability to absorb oxygen. These same negative ions also kill bacteria and balance levels of seratonin in the body, leaving you more alert and energised. So next time you see a can of sea air on sale in a beach side stall, it may be worth stocking up…
Sun and surf
We all know the sun feels good. And while you should be careful about how much exposure you get, the benefits of sun are well known. It increases the levels of vitamin D in your body, and affects the endocrine system, resulting in plenty of feelgood endorphins being released into our body. It’s also great for skin conditions, helping with psoriasis and other skin conditions. Meanwhile the Oxford-based medical journal Skin Research and Technology have confirmed that seawater helps cure dermatitis far more efficiently than normal water; the salt and potassium chloride in the briny sealing the damaged skin and allowing it to heal. Researchers also claim that seawater increases the elasticity of the skin.
Your feet have more nerve endings than any other part of your body (up to 7,000 in each foot), and walking on sand will stimulate every one of them while acting as a natural exfoliant, keeping your skin soft and clean. Sand walking is also harder to do than walking on a firm surface so it strengthens your muscles and burns more calories, but the soft nature of sand absorbs the impact of each step, protecting your joints.
You haven’t had seafood unless you’ve had seafood on a UK seaside break. As well as the taste benefits of fresh fish it’s also great for your little grey cells. The omega-3 fatty acids so prevalent in fish are so good for your brain that neuroscientist Michael Crawford from the University of North London links a marine diet with the separation of humans from the apes as it caused their brains to develop so quickly.
So UK seaside breaks, good for mind, body, and soul. What are you waiting for?