Attitude Adjustments

Why Winter Walks at the Seaside Are Good For You

seashore is good for health 1 14
The right kind of blue. Nick Page/Unsplash, CC BY-SA

Dreary weather, freezing temperatures, long dark days, no festivities to look forward to – it’s beginning to feel at lot like the middle of January. The idea that there is a “Blue Monday” somewhere around the middle of the month where people feel most miserable may be a bit of a myth, but seasonal affective disorder is real enough. No wonder many people take off at this time of year in search of winter sun.

To lift your mood, however, you don’t need to go as far as that. Plenty of us go for winter walks near nature, and for many that can mean a trip to the local coast. The health benefits of spending time near the seaside are increasingly well documented, including making people feel happier and more relaxed.

A good number of people even move to the coast in the belief that they will enjoy these benefits all the time. This may well be mentally beneficial, yet it has become clear to researchers that those who visit the seaside for leisure get more out of it. Our latest research helps to explain why.

Oh I do like to…

Visiting the seaside for its perceived health benefits is hardly a new phenomenon. As far back as the mid-18th century, city dwellers sought out places offering cleaner air and the rhythms of nature.

As industrialisation progressed during the 19th century, the desire to visit the coast stemmed as much from a need to escape polluted, overcrowded cities as a desire to be near the sea. This was when the modern idea of the seaside was essentially “invented”, and English coastal towns like Blackpool, Skegness and Scarborough began to boom.

These days, of course, the sticks of rock and donkey rides have mostly been swapped for those more exotic locations. We are more likely to go to the local coast for a few hours away from the stresses of modern life in some beautiful scenery.

On the question of why this might be more beneficial than living at the coast, one suggested possibility is that visitors are in more of a “leisure state of mind”. They are more open and sensitive to the health-giving properties of coastal areas because they have time to savour the moment and become attuned to the seaside. If so, this might amplify any health benefits.

Our research

To test this idea, we surveyed 333 people at five seaside locations in Lancashire in north-west England (Lytham St Annes, Blackpool, Cleveleys, Fleetwood and Morecambe). We gauged their sense of wellbeing by asking them eight questions, including whether they felt better when looking out at the sea, more relaxed in this environment, and had happy memories of being at the seaside.

Respondents had to score each question out of 4, with 0 being no benefit and 4 being the highest benefit, allowing for a maximum “Seaside Wellbeing Index” (or SWI) score of 32. We conducted our surveys in the summertime, but the findings are likely to be applicable the year round.

Most respondents displayed relatively high scores, which was unsurprising, since we know the seaside helps people to relax and feel well. We split respondents into two broad groups, those at work and those at leisure. The people we surveyed were either working at the time they were surveyed, or there for leisure purposes (walking or sitting near the sea). Occupations of the workers ranged from coach driver to chef to nurse.


 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

Of those at leisure, we broke them down into three further sub-groups: overnight visitors, day visitors and local residents. Visitors displayed higher scores than local residents. Those who scored highest were visitors staying overnight (an average SWI score of 27.2 compared to 25.9 for local residents, with day visitors actually slightly lower at 25.6). This suggests that the longer you stay away from home, the more relaxed and leisurely you become.

People who were working scored lower on average than those at leisure. The average SWI scores were 22.4 for workers, 26.2 for those at leisure, a statistically significant difference of 3.8.

This might mean that working people value the seaside environment less. Interestingly, however, our research also indicates that 70% of seaside workers would rather work by the sea than inland. This takes us back to the idea that while visitors might benefit most from being at the seaside, everyone benefits to some extent. It’s also worth noting there was a subtle difference in average SWI scores for people living away from the sea (25.8) and those living nearby (24.6).

Implications

Being at leisure gives individuals time not just to see but to properly soak up the seaside environment. This is why it is the perfect antidote to being confined in cities and the stresses of everyday life. In January, as we look towards the long year ahead, leisure time can therefore be well spent at the coast. Those marketing seaside destinations and managing the visitor experience would do well to highlight the need for visitors to slow down and savour the seaside environment.

There are also implications for doctors. Over the past decade, there is evidence that even the most cynical within the medical community are accepting the benefits that natural environments can have on health and well-being. As part of this, it’s clearly worth encouraging people to get away from their lives for a day or two and take time at the seaside.

So if you’re looking for something to do in the depths of January, walking on beaches is not just a way of killing time. It’s a form of medicine. So why not get your coat on and head for the seaside – a couple of windswept hours might make all the difference.The Conversation

About The Authors

Nick Davies, Lecturer and Programme Leader, BA International Tourism and Events Management, Glasgow Caledonian University and Sean J Gammon, Reader in Leisure and Tourism Management, University of Central Lancashire

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


 

You May Also Like

follow InnerSelf on

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconinstagram iconpintrest iconrss icon

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

AVAILABLE LANGUAGES

enafarzh-CNzh-TWdanltlfifrdeeliwhihuiditjakomsnofaplptroruesswsvthtrukurvi

MOST READ

whitewashing mlk 1 25
How Republicans Whitewash Martin Luther King
by Hajar Yazdiha
January is a month that commemorates a darker, more recent memory of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on…
screenshot of a My Space page
What Happens to Our Data When We No Longer Use a Social Media Network or Publishing Platform?
by Katie Mackinnon
The internet plays a central role in our lives. I — and many others my age — grew up alongside the…
Ancient Practice Yoga 1 24
The Benefits of the Ancient Practice Yoga to Both Body and Mind
by Herpreet Thind
Yoga is now a mainstream activity in the U.S. and is commonly portrayed as a healthy lifestyle…
a person wearing a surgical mask working at a computer
Coronaphobia: A New Epidemic of Isolation
by Barry Vissell
Coronaphobia is a real word. Researchers coined this term in December 2020. It's the fear of Covid…
what ispatial thinking 1 25
How Spatial Thinking Can Help Children Learn Math
by Emily Farran
Do you struggle to visualise how to rotate your shoes so that they nest together in a shoe box? How…
hiker sitting on top of a huge rock with arms up in the air in triumph
Relax and Enjoy—for a Strong Finish!
by Kathryn Hudson
It is most important to remain aware, present, and conscious in our oh-so-creative thoughts! But…
a hand holding a conductor's baton overlaid over the globe showing the countries
Who Are They? Where Are They?
by Will T. Wilkinson
We live in an age of convenience. Every day, all day long, we are offered products and services to…
food evaluation method 1 24
How to Tell Which Foods Are Healthy and Which Are Less So
by Dariush Mozaffarian et al
As nutrition scientists who have spent our entire careers studying how different foods influence…

New Attitudes - New Possibilities

InnerSelf.comClimateImpactNews.com | InnerPower.net
MightyNatural.com | WholisticPolitics.com | InnerSelf Market
Copyright ©1985 - 2021 InnerSelf Publications. All Rights Reserved.
attitude, behavior,improve your attitude,understand attitude,attitude adjustment