Where You Live Can Impact Your Health — And Coastal Areas Are Better For You

coast off tropical island

Photo: Flickr/fensterbme

Living or even just spending time near the sea could potentially improve your health, new research suggests.”We know that people usually have a good time when they go to the beach, but there is strikingly little evidence of how spending time at the coast can affect health and well being,” study researcher Ben Wheeler, of the University of Exeter, said in a statement from the university.

“If the evidence is there, it might help to provide governments with the guidance necessary to wisely and sustainably use our valuable coasts.”

The study used data from 48 million responses a 2001 census in the UK. The researchers looked at who rated their health as “good” and analysed where these people lived. They controlled for age, sex, and other social and economic factors. It was published June 30 in the journal Health & Place.

They found a slight difference in average health between inland populations and those who lived by the coast. The coast populations were healthier.

The researchers note that this is a small difference, but they say that averaged over an entire population, the public health impacts could be substantial. They say the coastal environments let people be more active, and also reduce stress. Previous studies have suggested that even just visiting these areas can help people relax and revitalize.

“While not everyone can live by the sea, some of the health promoting features of coastal environments could be transferable to other places,” study researcher Mathew White, of the University of Exeter, also said in the statement. “Any future initiatives will need to balance the potential benefits of coastal access against threats from extreme events, climate change impacts, and the unsustainable exploitation of coastal locations.”

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