Coastal towns are idyllic with their fresh air and beautiful views. A new study just proved what we've all known about living by the water: It's delightful.
Published in the journal Health and Place, a study by the University of Exeter surveyed over 26,000 coastal residents throughout England. This study samples a large size and diverse population giving accurate results to a general population. These results found definite signs of better mental health and self-described happiness for those who live close to the coast.
Taking in other factors, it was determined that people living 5 km (3.1 miles) or less from the water report better mental health and this applies even more so for those in lower income households. Those who live close to the coast visit it regularly which increases their physical activity level. The fresh air also promotes good health, clarity and seems to cure health ailments.
These factors all come together to help health issues which are more commonly suffered in low income households. Families who don't make enough money sometimes have to cut back on their health care. This wasn't as big of an issue for those near the city. This study was based out of England where one in six people suffer from mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, or bipolar.
Researchers spoke to people who lived in a range of less than 1 km- 50 km away from the ocean. Under 5 km seemed to be that magic number of happiness. This coastal theory is further supported by the 271 million annual recreational trips to the ocean. It helps that anywhere in England is only 70 miles from the water. England is located on the island of Great Britain after all.
This study was done in support of the BlueHealth initiative which is European research coalition connecting ideas in the health and ecological realms.
Those of us who live across the pond may not have the same access to water and the ocean so close to us. This doesn't mean that those who don't live near water will be clinically depressed. There are many other natural wonders that can ease your mental health. Mountains, rivers, and great open fields can also take your breath away. We think the real finding here is that nature is calming and necessary for our mental healt.