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Is Sea Air Good for You?

Is Sea Air Good for You?
Is sea air good for you?

The Victorians certainly thought so.

Medical literature of the time was thrumming with eager prose extolling the benefits of sand, sea and maritime O2.

One physician wrote, in typically ornate style, that a change of air could prompt 'the abandonment of many an injurious habit which has long been the secret minister of disease'

Another maintained that living a 'quiet, vegetative and dolce far niente sort of life' could bestow all manner of therapeutic benefits.

But was this all Victorian fancy? Is sea air good for you now, in the 21st century? What do medical experts have to say?

Let's find out.

Is sea air good for you? The case for mental health

Is sea air good for you? The case for mental health

No prizes for guessing this one.

It seems so self-evident, doesn't it? Beaches make us happy. As soon as our toes touch sand and our lungs fill with sea air, we feel calmer. More contented. More alive.

And science agrees – sort of. In 2013, a University of Exeter team found that people who live near the coast tend to have better mental health than their landlocked counterparts.

This could be for all sorts of reasons. Some believe that we associate the seaside with happy childhood memories – and that beaches give adults an excuse to socialise and 'play' like children. Others point to the relaxing sound of lapping waves. This, like white noise, is thought to help us slow down, switch off and appreciate our surroundings.

Does sea air also play a part? We'd argue that, as a key part of the seaside experience, it does. Whether it's the air you breathe, the sounds you hear or the memories you make, the coast is clearly good for the soul.

Is sea air good for you? The case for nature

Is sea air good for you? The case for nature

Let's widen the net a little more. Let's look at the seaside – and sea air – in the broader context of the natural world.

Why? Because nature most certainly is good for you. Evidence suggests that spending time outdoors can improve brain health, reduce blood pressure and calm symptoms of anxiety and depression.

And it's not just forests, laws and other green spaces. Remember the University of Exeter study from a few paragraphs ago? That focused specifically on blue spaces – such as beaches, lakes and rivers – and their potential to improve well-being.

Again, sea air isn't singled out for its health effects. But what does it matter? Beaches mean exercise, relaxation and refreshing, salty air. If these aren't good for you, we'll eat our sun hats.

Is sea air good for you? The case for healthier skin

Is sea air good for you? The case for healthier skin

Skincare specialists have long championed saltwater as a natural dermal treatment.

Wash in saltwater, they say, and you'll benefit from all the juicy nutrients therein. The sea contains a wealth of minerals that are thought to promote healthy skin, such as magnesium, potassium and calcium.

What's more, the tiny mineral crystals in saltwater may have an exfoliating effect – though it's not recommended for delicate or sensitive skin.

If you want to try it yourself, it might be worth taking a dip next time you hit the beach. Though if you'd rather stand by the shore and let the sea breeze splash your face, that's fine too.

Is sea air good for you? The case for allergy control

Is sea air good for you? The case for allergy control

Nature is wonderful. Unless you have hay fever.

Yes, for those of us with pollen allergies, 'getting out and enjoying nature' also means contending with itchy eyes, a runny nose and a growing grudge against poor old Mother Earth.

Here's an idea: skip the wildflower meadows and forest glades. Head to the beach for your nature fix instead.

According to the London Allergy & Immunology Centre, coastal areas have significantly lower pollen counts, on average, than inland areas.

This is, the Centre explains, for two reasons. First, sea air blow allergens away. And second, higher moisture levels mean pollen is less likely to catch a breeze and fly up your nose.

Is sea air good for you? The case for negative ions

Is sea air good for you? The case for negative ions

First, a disclaimer. The health benefits of negative ions are disputed, with many believing their effects are negligible at best and non-existent at worst.

On the other hand, proponents of negative ion therapy argue that it can lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality, among other things.

Why are we mentioning this? Because negative ions are generated whenever water crashes against water. This means they're abundant in the air around waterfalls, choppy rivers and – yes – beaches. (They're also created by UV rays on sunny days. Score two for the seaside.)

Scientists have found evidence to suggest that negative ion exposure could improve cognitive performance, help regulate sleep patterns and kill harmful bacteria. However, the jury's out on whether it can help with anxiety or blood pressure.

Want to head to the seaside and try it for yourself? Just remember to wear some good suncream if the weather calls for it – UV rays can harm as much as they might help.


What's the verdict?

What's the verdict?

So is sea air good for you? If you consider it part of the seaside experience as a whole, the answer appears to be a resounding, 'Yes!'

Ultimately, it comes down to common sense. Victorian doctors were quick to recommend a 'change of air' for assorted ailments, but they didn't believe that fresh air was solely responsible for its efficacy. Their patients felt better because of the whole package: nature, exercise, relaxation and – quite possibly – good, clean air.

The same is true today. You don't need a PhD to recognise that seaside escapes are good for the mind and body. And you don't have to look far to find the perfect getaway…

Enjoy fresh sea air at Driftwood Hotel

Enjoy fresh sea air at Driftwood Hotel

Are you looking for rest, relaxation and fresh sea air? Good news: we've got plenty to go around.

Driftwood Hotel is situated right next to the coast on the stunning Roseland Peninsula – part of Cornwall's Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Many of our rooms have sea views, so you can enjoy the gentle, lapping waves as soon as you wake for breakfast.

Ready for a lungful? Just take a stroll to the bottom of our garden, where you'll find a hidden beach, framed by blue waters and craggy cliffs.

Want to make a day of it? Pull on your boots and head down the South West Coast Path. This winding coastal walk is the longest National Trail in the UK – and we're perched right above it.

Whether you're here for the hikes, the sea air or a bit of R'n'R, you can be sure of a warm welcome. Discover our Cornwall hotel offers today.

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