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Lifestyle

Five reasons why a trip to the seaside is great for your health

Whether you’re four, 40 or 104, the chances are you enjoy a trip to the seaside. And it’s great for your health in these five different ways.

1. It's great for stress busting

The sound of the waves, the view of the horizon, the smell of the ocean breeze – many of us would say these things help us feel relaxed.

To prove why this is the case, Californian marine biologist Wallace J Nichols has been investigating the connection humans have with water. His book Blue Mind shares studies that illustrate how being by any large body of water floods the brain with the feel-good hormones dopamine and oxytocin. These studies also found that levels of the stress hormone cortisol drop.

Additionally, on sunny days the heat of the sun raises our serotonin levels – the hormone we need to boost our mood and help us to feel calm.

2. You'll exercise without realising it

Walking in dry sand uses about twice as much energy as walking on a solid surface, according to the Journal of Experimental Biology. Trying to gain traction on the shifting surface exercises all the muscles from your feet up to your glutes.

Even building a sandcastle is good exercise as you will be stretching and moving muscles all over your body to do so. It’s estimated that an hour of sandcastle building can burn 100 calories.

Of course, walking isn’t the only exercise available at the beach. Swimming is well known to be a great exercise to tone your whole body and build cardiovascular fitness. Plus, the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine has reported that if you regularly swim in cold water, you’ll boost your body’s levels of antioxidants, which helps to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.

3. You'll top up your vitamin D 

We all need vitamin D to keep our bones, teeth and muscles healthy. And our bodies create vitamin D from sunlight. The darker your skin, the longer it will take for your body to produce vitamin D.

But make sure you don’t overdo it – as too much sun raises the risk of burning, dehydration and possibly skin cancer.

4. Your skin may benefit too 

As long as you take the right precautions in the sun, a bit of sunshine and sea can work wonders for skin complaints such as psoriasis and eczema. Sea water is rich in minerals that can help to repair skin, especially magnesium, an anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial mineral which is particularly effective in the treatment of eczema.

People often feel that a beach holiday leaves them with a glowing complexion. Salty sea water helps to open pores and remove toxins while also having a mild exfoliating effect on dead skin cells.

5. It'll set you up for a great night's sleep 

Finally, after all these benefits of the beach, there’s one more – a restful night’s sleep. A study by the National Trust found that after taking a long walk by the sea, people slept on average 47 minutes longer – the benefits weren’t as pronounced when they’d walked inland.

If you’re a Benenden Health member and you’re planning a holiday, visit My Benenden to see where you can benefit from discounts and rewards on accommodation, trips out and much more...