How we do like to be beside the seaside

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 July, 2012, 12:00am


Making a choice between a home in Mid-Levels or the south side? Findings from a new study might help sway your decision.

Researchers from the European Centre for Environment and Human Health at Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry revealed yesterday that people living near the coast tend to enjoy better health than those living inland.

Lead author of the study, Dr Ben Wheeler, says: '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. By analysing data for the whole population, our research suggests there is a positive effect, although this type of study cannot prove cause and effect.'

The researchers used data from the 2001 census for England, which involved more than 48 million people. The results show that on average, populations living by the sea report higher rates of good health than similar populations living inland. The link between good health and proximity to the sea was also found to be strongest in the most economically deprived communities.

The authors were keen to point out that although this effect is relatively small, when applied to the whole population the effects on public health could be substantial.

Along with other studies, the results of this work suggest that access to 'good' environments may have a role in reducing inequality in health between the wealthiest and poorest members of society. Another recent study conducted by the centre in collaboration with Natural England found that visits to the coast left people feeling calmer, more relaxed and more revitalised than visits to city parks or countryside. One reason those living in coastal communities may attain better physical health could be due to the stress relief offered by spending time near the sea.

So for those who can't live by the sea, perhaps making frequent visits to the beach this summer could put you in better health.