Ocean waves boost human happiness

April 26, 2012 | Surfing
Ocean and waves: the best natural feel-good drugs

Ocean and waves have a very positive impact in the emotional health of human beings.

The European Centre for Environment and Human Health has studied over 2,750 participants and has concluded that a simple walk along the beach or coastal area is enough to boost positive feelings.

Scientists found that all outdoor locations were associated with good vibes, but visits to the coast were most beneficial and visits to urban parks least beneficial.

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.

"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 wellbeing", says Dr Mathew White, a lecturer in health and risk from the European Centre for Environment and Human Health based in Truro, Cornwall.

Experts believe that the ocean's feel-good effect is due to the turbulence created by breaking waves, which alters the physical structure of the air and water and releases charged ions into the atmosphere.

Some say environments filled with negatively charged ions (such as the ocean, or even snowy mountains or near waterfalls) can boost your mood by triggering endorphins and serotonin, or "feel-good" hormones, and increasing blood flow and oxygen in the body.