If you’re attracted to the idea of retiring by the sea, you’ll be glad to know that as well as a wonderful lifestyle, the seaside offers a number of physical and mental health benefits. From folding kayas to jet skis, it is believed to be good for our skin, breathing, sleep patterns and stress levels, living by the beach is beneficial for our health in a number of ways and this guide takes a closer look at the some of the possible reasons why.
Physical health benefits
The weather-beaten faces of sailors and fishermen wouldn’t seem to suggest it, but exposure to sea water in moderate doses can actually be good for your skin.
It contains high levels of sodium and magnesium ions, which makes it a great exfoliator for buffing away dead cells and smoothing the skin. It’s also rich in minerals like chloride, potassium, iodine and sulphur, which have curative and anti-inflammatory effects and can help remove toxins from the body and speed up the healing process.
Sea air also has curative powers, particularly for those who suffer from breathing difficulties such as asthma. Thanks to negative ions which allow for better absorption of oxygen, fresh sea breezes help to clear the lungs, thin out mucus and improve overall breathing. Sea air also contains a mist of saline water, which soothes the mucosal lining of the respiratory system, making it beneficial for conditions such as sinusitis. The soothing powers of sea air have been known since Victorian times, when those with consumption and TB were taken to convalesce at spas and clinics by the sea.
As well as having tangible health benefits, the seaside atmosphere encourages a more active lifestyle. This can include long walks on the beach, playing golf or beach volleyball or taking part in a myriad of water sports from swimming and kayaking to water skiing and paddle boarding. An active lifestyle at write for us lifestyle equates to a healthier one and a 2014 UK study found that people who live within a kilometre of the sea are more likely to exercise than those living further inland.
Coastal living also encourages healthier eating. Seafood is available fresh from the boat to your plate and unlike red meat, it’s low in fat and high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Mental health benefits
The sea is not only beautiful to the eye, but also medicinal for the mind and living on the coast offers some surprising mental health benefits.
For one thing, it can help you to sleep better. Research has shown that people who spend time at the beach tend to tire more quickly and rest more deeply at night. The answer lies in sea air, which is cleaner and fresher and contains higher levels of oxygen than normal air. The negative ions it contains also accelerate your ability to absorb oxygen and help to balance your serotonin levels (happiness hormones), both of which are conducive to a better night’s sleep.
Sea air also helps to calm your mind, boost your mood and lower your stress levels, while the Vitamin D your body produces when exposed to sunshine is also believed to help ward off depression. And the sound of waves breaking on the shore, the blue of the water, the smell of the sea air and the feel of sand underfoot have all been linked to the ocean’s ability to put us into a meditative state and lower our stress levels.
In fact, the sea’s influence on us is so powerful that a 2015 study found that simply having a view of a marine environment is enough to improve our mood and lower our heart rate.
Not for everyone
If this guide has whetted your appetite for a sea change, there are no shortage of beautiful spots to retire to around the world. From the stunning coastlines of New Zealand and the golden beaches of Australia to the winding canals of the Florida keys, there’s a seaside retreat to suit every taste and budget.
But like all good things, retiring by the sea has some disadvantages as well and may not be the perfect retirement choice for everyone. These include;
- Unpredictable weather – being on the coast means exposure to the full force of extreme weather events such as hurricanes, cyclones and storms.
- Higher costs – the nearer the sea, the higher the price tag for real estate and the higher the cost of living in popular tourist locations.
- More maintenance – a salt-laden coastal environment leads to more corrosion and higher home maintenance costs.
Nevertheless, if you like the idea of being lulled to sleep by the waves every night and enjoying a happier and healthier lifestyle in the sun, retirement to the coast could be the sea change you’ve been waiting for all your life.
Having said that however, it’s a big step to consider and you should always seek professional advice before making any big life decisions.