Being near the sea is good for you

Published: April 23, 2012

Study finds that all outdoor locations were linked with positive feelings of enjoyment, calmness, refreshment.

LONDON: Exercise in the open air is good for you, but you can only reap its full benefits if you head for the coast or the countryside rather than an urban park.

Katherine Ashbullby, from the European Centre for Environment and Human Health and colleagues from Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry and University of Plymouth, studied data from 2,750 English respondents. They had been to urban parks, the countryside and the coast.

They found that all outdoor locations were linked with positive feelings (enjoyment, calmness, refreshment), but that visits to the coast were most beneficial and visits to urban parks least beneficial, according to a European Centre statement.

This finding remained when the researchers took account of factors like people’s age, how far they had travelled the presence of others and the activity they undertook.

Mathew White, lecturer in health and risk from the European Centre, says: “There is a lot of work on the beneficial effects of visiting natural environments, but our findings suggest it is time to move beyond a simple urban vs rural debate and start looking at the effect that different natural environments have on people’s health and well-being.”

These findings were presented at the British Psychological Society Annual Conference, London.

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