For just a moment, close your eyes and picture a peaceful lakeside dock. Can you hear the water gently lapping against the old wood planks? How about ducks? Frogs? It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to piece together why people enjoy spending time near the water. The sounds are soothing and during the summer months visiting the beach is a great way to get some vitamin D and beat the heat at the same time. What might surprise you, however, is that people living close to bodies of water often experience fewer health problems as they age. This begs the question, why is living near water good for your health?
How Living Near Water Makes You Healthier
Water and Psychology
To begin understanding the advantages of living near water, it’s important to talk about the effect bodies of water have on our psychology. It all started with the bestselling book, Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do. Written by marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols — and long-winded titles aside — the book focuses on the science behind why living close to bodies of water promotes mental and physical well-being. The research demonstrates that we all have a pre-programmed psychological affinity toward natural bodies of water. This psychological affinity is called the “blue mind effect” and it is a state of physical and psychological relaxation that occurs when people are near — or even just think of — water.
It is not a mistake that many relaxation tracks and guided meditations often use the sounds associated with water. Think of ambient noise compilations. Do they include the sounds of crashing waves, rain, or water birds like seagulls or loons? It’s because simply being reminded of water or picturing it in some way can trigger the blue mind effect and relax the listener. Because of this effect, being around water reduces stress and anxiety.
Dating back to the 18th century, the ocean has been associated with improved health. Though we wouldn’t recommend drinking it, breathing the sea air is fresher than the air further inland. This is because the air contains tiny droplets of seawater that enrich the air with several minerals. Not only are these minerals good for your skin, but they also add negatively charged ions to the air. This helps oxygenate your bloodstream for better circulation and organ health.
Good for Immune Health
Since your blood is more oxygenated and you’re nice and relaxed, a healthier immune system is soon to follow. This makes it easier to fight off illness as well as putting less pressure on our organs. If you struggle to heal after an illness, this can put your organs through a lot of prolonged stress, since they have to work harder to get you back to health. A happy immune system means a happy you.
Higher Levels of Activity
You need only suffer through the summer heat to figure out why bodies of water promote more activity. But it’s not just swimming that can help you get your cardio. Often, ponds and lakeside environments feature walking and biking trails that are easily accessible and scenic. This simply makes it easier and more appealing to get outdoors and be active. In fact, scientists theorize that spending at least 120 minutes a week in natural environments could account for better health. The study looked at the connection between activity levels and how much “blue” or “green” space was present in the neighborhood. There was a correlation between people who spent more time in the “blue” and “green” spaces and overall health.
There are many factors that could contribute to this anomaly. However, the study does seem to indicate that simply having nice surroundings will make people more likely to seek activities outside and those who do report fewer health problems. If you have a pool, try these aquatic activities to improve your health.
Putting all of the listed reasons together makes it pretty easy to see how this would also improve your health. Putting all of the listed reasons together makes it pretty easy to see how this would also improve your health. Basic recommendations for reducing stress are getting better sleep and exercising. If you are having trouble sleeping, you might want to consider if getting outside will help. You can also check out these common issues that interfere with your sleep.
Take Advantage of Living Near Water
So, this is great for those with a beachside cottage or lake views, but what about the rest of us?
Well, though living by bodies of water is great for your health there are a few other ways to cheat the system:
- Get an indoor water feature.
- Take a bath.
- Visit a community pool.
- Go fishing.
- See if your local park has a duck pond.
- Check your area for kayak/canoe rentals.
- Get an aquarium.
As long as you are adding “blue” spaces to your weekly routine, you will benefit from the camping effects of living by water, including reduced stress and better living.
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Twin Lakes is a continuing care retirement community in Cincinnati, Ohio, offering villa homes, apartments, rehab services and more. We’re focused on supporting the vibrant and active lifestyles of our residents so they can age well. For more information, contact Twin Lakes online or at 513-247-1300.