If you’re keen to give your health a boost this summer, it could be as simple as diving head-first in 2017 with a refreshing sea swim. Those old wives’ tales of the salty air and seawater doing wonders for your health actually hold a fair bit of truth. Here is why your body will thank you for taking a plunge into the ocean.
Australia is incredibly lucky to be girt by sea – so there’s a large chunk of us who are within cooee of some salty goodness. Back in the day doctors would often tell patients to take in some sea air or head to the ocean to help fix what ailed them.
Apparently they used to issue prescriptions so patients knew how long and often to swim to help fix their issue.
Sergio Diez Alvarez, Director Of Medicine, The Maitland and Kurri Kurri Hospital, University of Newcastle has dug deeper into the benefits of a sea swim, not just physically but mentally. Here’s what he discovered.
4 Reasons Why Taking A Dip In The Sea Is Good For Your Health
1. Skin Conditions And Wounds
Dr Diez Alvarez says that ocean water is packed full of minerals like sodium, chloride, sulphate, magnesium and calcium. This makes it fantastic for those suffering from skin issues like psoriasis.
“Patients suffering from psoriasis have themselves reported feeling better after swimming in the ocean, but this may also have to do with sun exposure, which has been found to improve psoriasis symptoms,” he explains.
“Ocean swimming also has benefits for eczema, another immune-mediated condition. Swimming in the sea can be a good exercise option for those with severe eczema as they often struggle to exercise in the heat and chlorinated pools.”
However, Dr Diez Alvarez says some with eczema find saltwater uncomfortable. Some evidence point to the skin absorbing magnesium helping eczema, because it may help keep moisture in.
Saltwater may also be help those with wounds and cuts, thanks to the mineral salts, however you have to be cautious.
“Swimming in the ocean with open wounds may expose you to potential bacterial infections,” he says.
2. Hay Fever And Sinus Issues
Do you feel like your nose is really clear after having a good dip at the beach? That’s because the salty water going into your sinuses helps flush them out. It’s something you can do at home with saline solution or just by diving down into the sea.
“Ocean swimming and exposure to the salt environment are possibly associated with reduced symptoms of hay fever and sinusitis, as well as other respiratory symptoms.”
“This is because the saline effect on the lining of sinuses may reduce inflammation, although scientific evidence for this is less robust.”
3. Meditation And Relaxation
Sure a trip to the beach with the kids tends to be more of an exercise in flustered sunscreen application and how much gear you can carry. But if you head for a relaxing couple of hours on your own, the benefits abound.
“Exercising in natural environments has been shown to have greater benefits for mental health than exercising elsewhere,” Dr Diez Alvarez explains.
“This is because it combines the benefits of exercise with the restorative effects of being in nature. Swimming in the ocean is no less the case.”
Therefore, the beach is the PERFECT place to get your 28 Day Challenge exercises done. AND you’re getting the benefits of the sea air. Swimming is also thought to have relaxing properties.
“The weightlessness of water can also have a calming effect on the mind, even changing or slowing down brain waves,” he says.
4. Cold Water Therapy
A dip at in the ocean can be refreshing to say the least, but that blast of cool water also has its benefits.
“Cold-water swimming activates temperature receptors under the skin that release hormones such as endorphins, adrenalin and cortisol. These have therapeutic benefits for musculoskeletal conditions – such as fibromyalgia, which is a condition with chronic pain and tenderness all over the body – and skin discomfort.”
Dr Diez Alvarez says we’d be wise to make ocean swimming a health habit. Of course just check in with your doctor first before diving head-first if you’re in any way concerned.
Getting down to your local beach may just be the ticket to getting you out of an exercise rut – here are five other easy ways!