Living Seaside May Better Health
Using data from 15 countries, new research led by Sandra Geiger from the Environmental Psychology Group at the University of Vienna confirms public intuition: Living near, but especially visiting, the seaside is associated with better health regardless of country or personal income.
As part of the EU-funded Horizon 2020 project Seas, Oceans, and Public Health In Europe led by Professor Lora Fleming, Geiger and colleagues from the Universities of Vienna, Exeter, and Birmingham, as well as Seascape Belgium and the European Marine Board, surveyed over 15,000 participants across 14 European countries and Australia about their opinions on various marine-related activities and their own health.
The findings surprised the team. Lead author Geiger said: “It is striking to see such consistent and clear patterns across all 15 countries. We also now demonstrate that everybody seems to benefit from being near the seaside, not just the wealthy. Although the associations are relatively small, living near and especially visiting the coast can still have substantial effects on population health.”
Dr. Paula Kellett from the European Marine Board said: “The substantial health benefits of equal and sustainable access to our coasts should be considered when countries develop their marine spatial plans, consider future housing needs, and develop public transportation links.”
“Austrians and other central Europeans visit the coasts in millions during the summer months, so they too get to experience some of these benefits. Besides, we are also starting to appreciate the similar health benefits offered by inland waters such as lakes and natural pools.”
Sandra J. Geiger, Mathew P. White, Sophie M. C. Davison, Lei Zhang, Oonagh McMeel, Paula Kellett, Lora E. Fleming. Coastal proximity and visits are associated with better health but may not buffer health inequalities. Communications Earth & Environment, 2023; 4 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s43247-023-00818-1
University of Vienna. “Consistent link between the seaside and better health: 15-country study confirms that people living near or visiting the seaside enjoy better health.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 May 2023. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2023/05/230524181839.htm>.
Photo by Joseph Barrientos