People love the ocean. It’s no wonder, with so many travelers choosing vacation destinations along the beach. However, have you ever wondered why exactly being near the ocean, or other bodies of water, makes us feel so good?
Wallace J. Nichols, a marine biologist and author, has researched several beneficial effects the ocean has on the brain and body. From exercising more efficiently to achieving a zen-like state, here are a few reasons why people can’t get enough of the ocean.
Boost The Body And The Mind
Yes, exercising near the ocean can do wonders for your workout. Not only is jogging along the beach a killer exercise but being outside near water gives your mind a mental boost while working out. This is because your body is responding to natural stimuli rather than working out in a crowded gym or jogging along a busy city street.
Even just gazing at the blue color of the ocean will make your brain associate more positively with working out. This is because the color blue helps to calm nerves.
“Increased views of blue space is significantly associated with lower levels of psychological distress,” said Amber Pearson, an assistant professor of health geography at Michigan State University. Pearson co-authored a study released in 2016 which outlined how views of the ocean were associated with better mental health.
The Water And Well-Being
“Research has shown that being near, in, on or under water can provide a long list of benefits for our mind and body, including lowering stress and anxiety, increasing an overall sense of well-being and happiness, a lower heart and breathing rate, and safe, better workouts,” said Nichols.
What’s more impressive is that aquatic therapists are looking into how oceans and other bodies of water can help people manage disorders such as PTSD, addiction, anxiety, autism, and more.
Another major benefit of the ocean on the brain is the ocean’s rich amount of negative ions. Research has shown that positive ions are emitted by electrical items such as computers, microwaves, and more. These positive ions can have a draining effect. The negative ions emitted by ocean waves and waterfalls actually help reverse the damage of positive ions. The negative ions help us absorb oxygen better and balance serotonin levels. Serotonin balance is extremely important, as this is the neurotransmitter in our brain which contributes to well-being and happiness.
Bodies of water also put people in a meditative, zen-like state. While this can do amazing things for emotional stress, being in a meditative state can also benefit the body by reducing inflammation and strengthening the immune system.
The ocean’s sounds and visuals give people a break from constant overstimulation, making them more mindful in the process.
“The sound around us, from an auditory perspective, is simplified. It’s not quiet, but the sound of water is far more simple than the sound of voices or the sound of music or the sound of a city,” Nichols said. “And the visual input is simplified. When you stand at the edge of the water and look out on the horizon, it’s visually simplified relative to the room you’re sitting in right now, or a city you’re walking through, where you’re taking in millions of pieces of information every second.”