Blue space plays a powerful role in our wellbeing. Recent research proves that your walk on the beach has tangible benefits.
As a child, my parents put a fish tank into my room … for my health.
Over time, aquaria became a childhood passion. At one point, one wall of my bedroom was lined with three giant tanks, bringing me hours of fun, and many additional benefits.
My parents’ decision was driven by the belief that the humidity coming off the fish tanks would be good for my respiratory health. I suspect that the main benefits were mental and emotional.
Research into the beneficial effects of nature started with the science of green. If you live in a city, you’re likely to enjoy a walk in the park to de-stress and rejuvenate. If you work in an office, you’ll do better by having a friendly little pot-plant on your desk or window ledge. Research has confirmed the favorable side effects of including foliage in your life.
Recently, researchers have turned their attention to the science of blue—the benefits of water.
In one study, experimental subjects had to sit through a scary movie, before being shown a picture of a city, a green pasture, or a blue ocean. The images of nature calmed participants more than the urban images.
In another study, British researchers reviewed population health data to determine if proximity to water impacted health and wellbeing. Their conclusions? The closer people live to the ocean, the healthier they are.
An ambitious research project set out to evaluate the benefit of different combinations of green space, blue space and city. They showed that an environment containing both water and foliage has the greatest impact on mood and stress. But if you must choose one or the other, water wins. Adding water to a dirty city makes it as desirable as living in the countryside.
Blue space obviously has both recreational and social benefits. We relax and exercise more at the water, and we tend to do this with friends. Both drive tangible health rewards. But water seems to have more powerful effects. They may relate to our evolutionary routes, or our gestational environment where each of us began life surrounded by amniotic fluid in our mother’s womb. And perhaps the water, which has its own rhythm and energy does magic we’re not yet able to detect or quantify.
I hope that you can regularly enjoy the primal power of blue space in your life.