The Ocean’s Curative Powers: 9 Health Benefits of the Sea

Sailors, surfers, marine biologists, ships’ captains, and seaside dwellers can offer testimony to the mysterious draw of the ocean. The unfathomable vastness, significantly larger than the continents combined, and brimming with strange sounds and sensations, seems to beckon to humans in a strange way. It’s a place man cannot even explore without use of invented tools, and a place of so much note and power that pagan cultures devoted a God to represent it, a god second only to the creator god. Sailors and surfers will tell you that when with the ocean, they feel a presence they cannot describe to those who haven’t felt it.

For many centuries the ocean has brought enjoyment and peace to those who come searching, and recent science has now supported that spending time near the ocean is good for your health- physically, mentally, and emotionally. There are a variety of reasons for the benefits the ocean gives. In the name of health and happiness, spend more time near the ocean!

-Spending time near the ocean will make you calmer- Scientists have discovered that humans have something they call a “blue mind. This means that our brains are hardwired to react positively to water. Watching the ocean, listening to the ocean, or being in the ocean, gives the brain a rest from overstimulation. Our brains do not shut down, they simply adjust how they are working, giving them a much needed break… Often followed by the release of the happiness chemicals–dopamine and serotonin. 

-The health of your lungs- The Wall Street Journal reports that scientists found that salty air is good for you. That is, air near the ocean, helped patients clear out their lungs- there were fewer flare-ups, reduced need for antibiotics, and all patients had an easier time breathing. Additionally, those who suffer from asthma report that they have fewer and easier to manage attacks. Ocean air is simply wonderful for your lungs.

Salt is naturally antibacterial– Any acne, scrapes, cuts, sores, or even internal inflammation is likely to heal much more quickly after spending time in the ocean. And you don’t even have to work for this, you only have to spend a little bit of time in the ocean- Even jumping in and running out is healthy, and the equivalent of rinsing a cut with salt water. And, it probably won’t hurt as much either. 

The ocean increases human connectedness– Researchers have found that facing the water causes the brain to release the “awe” chemicals. These chemicals are the ones that are released when looking at something amazing. At the same time this happens, the human brain tends to feel connected to the universe, and to those around it. Looking at the ocean with a loved one does in fact affect your experience with them. Try it!

Working out near the water makes the workout better– This is for two reasons. 1) As mentioned above, the ocean provides provides a safeguard from overstimulation, so it is able mentally, to focus on what matters 2) Physically energy is maintained for longer. Working out while surrounded by people is actually exhausting, even if you don’t realize it. Your body working to absorb all content around it while simultaneously working to break down and build muscle is much more tiring than you realize. If you give your body a breaking from navigating the crowds and machines around you, it will maintain energy longer for what you are actually there to do– move.  

-You’ll sleep better after time at the beach- The three most common occurrences that inhibit sleep: stress, physical energy, and hormonal imbalances, are all treated by beach time. Water, sunlight, fresh air, and movement, all ease, if not cure the aforementioned ailments. More beach = better sleep.

-Vitamin D- There is some terrible statistic-approximately 75% of Americans do not absorb the recommended amount of Vitamin D (this statistic is commonly attributed to lifestyle i.e. office jobs.) But, spending some time outside near a giant body of water that reflects the sun’s rays will give you strong doses of the coveted Vitamin D. Vitamin D is key in combating depression, strengthening bones, the health of the immune system, and believe it or not, the digestive system. So soak up some Vitamin D, but don’t forget to monitor your skin and apply sunscreen!

-Spending time near the water will make you more attractive- Okay maybe to some this is a stretch, but hear me out. The sun’s rays are naturally anti-bacterial which will improve your skin with reasonable doses. The ocean is a perfect place to go for a walk, run, or do a beach workout. Proper amounts of vitamin D will help your skin, hair, and nails grow healthy, strong, and clear. It’s tough to be too sad at the beach, and aren’t happy people the most attractive? Also, that yoga or surfer body!

Water workouts ease arthritis and muscle pain– If you suffer from chronic pain, it is likely that water workouts are the right choice for you. In the water, there isn’t the strain and impact that exists with land workouts. As everyone knows, being physically active is the secret to youth and health, and the water provides a safe and enjoyable environment for people to work on themselves, without pain. If you google “ocean workouts” or “water workouts” you will find hundreds of options that are likely to fit your needs.

Salt water infuses your skin with magnesium– Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body and is critical for muscle function, blood coagulation, and nutrient metabolism, among other things. Ocean water is rich with magnesium and simply being in it for short periods of time allows your skin to absorb what it needs in health.

-The final and perhaps most important point when it comes to health benefits of the ocean is happiness. When surrounded by nature, the carefree environment of the beach, and elements that scientifically contribute to your physical health, it becomes much harder to be unhappy. So, keeping in mind that health and happiness is the ultimate goal, pencil some time into your hectic schedule to spend time near the ocean, honoring nature, honoring yourself, and honoring the mystery of giant bodies of salt-water, bigger than our minds can fathom and brimming mysterious with life.

A few ideas for ocean and beach activities:
-Picnic with food
-Distance swimming
-Working out
-Diving under waves
-Poetry writing
-Beach yoga
-Nature walk
-Surf/body board
-Whale watching
-Animal watching (sand crabs, sea birds, sea lions)
-Drinks on the beach (don’t bring glasses!)
-Sunset/sunrise watching


Photos via Unsplash

Anastasia Bailey
Written by Anastasia Bailey
Anastasia is a creative writer, ashtanga yogi, and born and raised Californian currently living in San Francisco. She has a Master's Degree in Literature, and her passions include reading fiction, visiting national parks, speaking her mind, and jumping in the Pacific Ocean. Follow Anastasia on Instagram @anastasiaartemisbailey.