It’s not quite summer-time yet, but many of us long for those blue skies and pink sunsets, long sunny beach days and hot sand between our toes.
Aussies love summer: we have beautiful beaches, warm weather and nature galore. But, less is known about the health benefits of swimming in ocean, beyond the pure enjoyment of cooling off under the sun.
Research suggests that bathing and exercising in sea water can help with a range of ailments and improve wellbeing, both physically and mentally. In case you needed a few more reasons to hit up the beach this summer, here are 6 to add to the list:
1. Sea water helps ease skin conditions
The magnesium in salt water is thought to help those suffering with skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. Ocean water is different from fresh water in that it has higher amounts of minerals such as sodium, sulphate, calcium, chloride and magnesium, all thought to assist with improving and relieving skin ailments.
Those with dry skin may find that salt water helps improve moisture retention in their skin due to the magnesium component in the water. Additionally, bathing in the mineral-rich sea, coupled with increased sun exposure on a day out to the beach, is thought to provide relief for psoriasis sufferers.
Got a sore or scratch that won’t bugger off? Taking a dip in the ocean can assist in wound healing, with salts in the water like iodine and sodium acting as natural antiseptics to treat sores. But, keep in mind that the ocean water could also open up the possibility of infection, due to bacteria in the water.
2. Cold water therapy
Hydrotherapy is a form of alternative medicine that uses water as a means of pain relief and treatment. The use of cold water, in particular, has been linked to a range of health benefits including assisting better organ functioning, an increase in the body’s immunity and an improvement in musculoskeletal conditions such as fibromyalgia.
Sea water is almost always cool, providing an excellent form of cold water therapy to improve general well-being.
3. Clears sinuses
Does your runny nose feel clearer after a dip at the beach? There is some scientific research to suggest that taking a dive into the ocean (or alternatively, using saline solutions at home) assists in relieving sinus issues and hay fever.
This relief is thought to occur due to the salt water flushing out the sinuses. It can also help with respiratory symptoms, as the salty sea water can reduce inflammation on the lining of the sinuses.
4. Relaxation & well-being
Of course, all physical benefits aside, a trip to the beach is a favourite summer pastime for many Aussies. Joy comes from immersing ourselves in nature, embracing sunny blue skies and allowing ourselves to sink into the warm golden sand. It comes from peace and quiet—getting away from work, stress, and the busy hustle and bustle of city life.
The beach is a detox for the mind as it is for the body. It’s also possible that the vitamin D boost, thanks to the sunlight on our bare skin, has a positive effect on our mood and energy levels. Just remember to slip, slop slap!
5. Fatigue, anxiety & SAD
The extra boost of sunlight that comes from spending time at the beach provides more than just vitamin D. If you’ve ever heard of, or experienced Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) you’ll know that it’s often linked to the cooler winter months. Our mind can take a hit from the lack of sun and physical activity, paired with increased time indoors. The sedentary lifestyle can make one feel depressed, moody and sluggish. It can also lead to a loss of interest, appetite changes, insomnia and social isolation.
If you’re the type to hibernate during the cooler months, you may also experience a degree of social isolation and disconnect, which can often have negative psychological consequences.
Being out and about in nature and sunlight can do wonders for energy levels and overall happiness. The natural rejuvenation we feel after taking a dip in the sea can fight depressive symptoms and erase the blues many of us are familiar with in winter.
As previously mentioned, a boost in immunity is thought to be linked to ocean swimming. The sea is a haven for vital elements and mineral salts, amino acids and microorganisms that are easily absorbed through the skin while taking a dip. Scientists have also suggested that swimming in salt water opens our pores to let in helpful sea minerals that banish toxins from the body.
With spring just around the corner, it’ll be time for the beach before you know it—and with 6 extra reasons to go, you’ll enjoy the sunny seaside even more.