01 Jan

Being By The Sea Can Boost Your Health


image credit – Linda by Hans Vink

The Georgians and Victorians thought being beside the seaside was good for your health and modern science is backing up their enthusiasm. Getting outside and down to the seaside for 15 to 30 minutes a day, even in a cold climate, can significantly improve your wellbeing.


The smell of good old seaside air is caused by dimethyl sulphide gas, given off by the sea, and not ozone as was commonly believed.

Getting a lungful at the beach will help you to sleep better because sea air is full of negative hydrogen ions, charged particles abundant in sea spray and concentrated in fresh air, which improve our ability to absorb oxygen by neutralising damaging free radicals (positive ions). These negative ions can also balance levels of seratonin, the feelgood hormone, making us less prone to anxiety.

Sea air may also make sufferers of cystic fibrosis (CF) – where thick mucous clogs the lungs – feel better. Researchers at Ben-Gurion University in Israel discovered that CF patients exposed to air at the Dead Sea (which has a high oxygen level) ended up with more oxygen in their blood, which improved their breathing.
According to Dr Eldar Berkovits, a member of the research team, the extraordinarily high concentration of minerals found in the Dead Sea’s mud, sulphur pools, geothermal springs, and in the surrounding atmosphere, also aided the breathing of patients with respiratory problems and pulmonary disorders.


According to Skin Research and Technology, when researchers treated dermatitis with sea water. The salt and potassium chloride content ”sealed” the damaged skin and speeded its healing.

A spokeswoman for the British Association of Dermatologists says many parents report that their child’s eczema improves after swimming in the sea. “This could be due to other factors such as relaxation, a change of climate or diet,” she says. “However, sea water has antiseptic properties and may reduce an infection associated with the eczema. It may also help to heal the skin. But you need to be extra intensive with emollients before and after swimming to prevent any drying effect. Wash the salt off afterwards, then moisturise.”

Sea water is also touted as a cure for hay fever, colds and sinus infections, as it has strong antihistamine effects and is a good decongestant. The manufacturers of Sterimar, a French nasal spray, claim this will also reduce snoring.


In our desire to avoid the risk of skin cancer, we have swung too far the other way and aren’t getting enough sun. This is according to doctors around the world, who are warning that we now need to get a bit more of the stuff, in a sensible way of course.

In Australia, one in four people now has a deficiency of vitamin D – symptoms include muscle pain, weak bones/fractures, fatigue, lowered immunity, depression, mood swings and sleep irregularities, according to Dr Marilyn Glenville, an expert in women’s health (www.marilynglenville.com).

“I’ve seen it in clinics myself,” she says. “We need the vitamin D that sunshine provides to help us absorb calcium and avoid osteoporosis.”

Vitamin D acts more like a hormone than a vitamin. An Australian report in Clinical Endocrinology, in 2005, showed that the higher the level of vitamin D in the body, the lower the blood glucose level, suggesting that sun avoidance may be linked to the onset of Type 2 diabetes.

“It may also be useful in prevention of heart disease, breast and prostate cancer, boosting the immune system and have anti-ageing effects,” says Glenville. “And, according to Irish researchers, it can reverse the inflammatory effects associated with age-related memory decline.”

The American Medical Association is so concerned about the increasing lack of vitamin D that it is lobbying the Federal Drugs Administration to increase the recommended daily allowance (RDA) from 200-600 biological units, or “iu” (depending on age), to up to 1,000iu, as it is believed that its anti-inflammatory properties may actually help to prevent cancer. (In Britain, the RDA is 200iu a day.)

“It’s about balance,” says Glenville, “not getting sunburnt. The body can store vitamin D for 60 days after gentle daily exposure.”
UV rays are often used by dermatologists to help with conditions such as psoriasis and acne, although Dr Richard Pojar, director of the Skin Research Unit at Leeds University, has suggested that in the case of acne, this may be simply a placebo effect.


Sand acts as a natural exfoliant, helping the old skin to shed more quickly and improving its natural regeneration. It also makes an excellent surface for exercising, just look at the bodies those beach vollyball guys and girl have.

The extra resistance it imposes on muscles can maximise the effects of any fitness regime. Award-winning Holstein cattle, the ”Vortex” herd in Dorset, are stabled in sand beds, rather than straw, for its health benefits. Farmers claim that this leads to fewer cases of lameness. So if it’s good for cows, just think what padding around on a beach barefoot could do for your hooves.


Seaweed has has high levels of zinc, chromium, manganese, selenium and particularly iodine,  which is very important for the healthy function of the thyroid gland. It also has anti-cancer benefits and reduces cholesterol.

Seaweed baths have long been popular in Ireland, where they are believed to aid rheumatism and arthritis. This is thought to be due to its high concentration of minerals, trace elements and polysaccharides.
Its high salt content acts as an effective agent for promoting chemical exchange and drawing out toxins from cells – which is why it is often added to face masks and body wraps.

2 comment on “Being By The Sea Can Boost Your Health

  • All so very true. I was especially interested about the Sea water.
    I am a naturalist concerning my diet and health care. I am always interested in Natures resources of healing first before running back and forth to the Doctor’s office over little symptoms.

    Thank You, and a Happy New Year!.

    The Skin Care Lady

  • Benefits of Walking on the Beach

    Walking on the beach aside from the beautiful view of the ocean and the great people watching there are many benefits of walking on the beach. Walking in sand requires a greater effort than walking on a hard surface. Your muscles and tendons will work harder as your foot moves around.

    Walking at a slower pace requires more effort than walking fast or even jogging. Walking in sand requires 2.1 to 2.7 times more energy than walking on hard surfaces. Jogging in sand uses1.6 times more energy than jogging on hard surfaces.

    For most of us burning calories is one of the benefits of any exercise. One the primary benefits of walking on a beach is that you will use 20 to 50 percent more calories than you would walking at the same pace on a hard surface.

    For a short stroll down the beach bare feet are fine, but if you are going to walk a longer distance then make sure you walk in shoes. Put on your favorite walking shoes or better yet your Teva sandals so you do not have to worry about getting your shoes wet. Walking too far in sand in bare feet can result in shin splints or a sore tendon in your heel.

    As always, if you are walking in the heat take the normal precautions: wear a hat, take a bottle of water and don’t forget to put on your sun screen. Of course, if you get too hot you can always jump in the water to cool off.

    Since we all want to protect our walking areas for future generations don’t wander into environmentally sensitive areas such as dunes.

    Of course you gain the same benefits by walking in sand in any form. So you could trek across a desert but given a choice most of us would choose to walk on a beach. In fact many of us would choose to spend our time walking on beaches even if there were no health benefits.

    Don’t forget that one of the many benefits of walking is that walking is relaxing so don’t forget to stop and pick up a pretty shell, look for porpoises playing in the surf, and notice the always changing colors of the water and the sky.

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