Moving Closer to the Coast Could Make You Happier, Study Finds
You now have the perfect excuse to move to a beach house.
A study by the University of Exeter in the UK found that people who live less than a kilometer (about two-thirds of a mile) from the coast are 22 percent less likely to have symptoms of a mental health disorder compared to those who lived much farther away (50 kilometers, or 31 miles), Metro reported.
The study surveyed over 25,000 people from various economic backgrounds. While the study generally saw an improvement in mood and mental health across the board, it also found that moving to a coastal environment is particularly good for people from low-income households. About 40 percent of people from this particular demographic alone were less likely to have symptoms of a mental health disorder, according to Metro.
Is it the sound of crashing waves, the sand beneath your feet, or perhaps the clear blue color of the water that helps improve your mood? At the moment, it’s hard to say what specifically about the sea is good for a person’s mental health.
But researchers concluded that access to “blue spaces,” or spaces by the sea or water, may play a big role in a person’s mental health. While many studies have shown that getting out into nature, even for just 20 minutes, can improve your mood, this specific finding could make a big difference in helping a person’s well being, especially if they have a low income, as well as the coastal environments themselves.
“This kind of research into blue health is vital to convincing governments to protect, create and encourage the use of coastal spaces,” said Dr. Mathew White, according to Country Living. “We need to help policymakers understand how to maximize the wellbeing benefits of 'blue' spaces in towns and cities and ensure that access is fair and inclusive for everyone, while not damaging our fragile coastal environments.”
According to BT, one in six adults in the UK suffer from a mental illness. In the U.S., the ratio is one in five adults, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Even though the research is based in the UK, it could have major implications in other countries as well.
Other studies, including one from Michigan State University, have also found a correlation between living near the coast and better mental health, according to The Washington Post. And if picking up and moving to the coast of Maine or by the beach in California isn’t in the cards for you, this particular study posits that similar findings could possibly be found near freshwater as well, though it is unconfirmed.
While moving to the coast probably won’t solve any and every mental health disorder, this new research could open doors for more research on both environmental and health issues. In general, it’s best not to pack up and move just because a place has good weather or nice water features.