We are so lucky to have the beach on our door-step! We know the health benefits of being outside and in nature. We know there is a wealth of learning opportunities across a broad range of curriculum areas for all ages- the beach offers us endless opportunities.
Why do we love the beach?
Children who spend time near the sea have better mental health in adulthood, study finds!
Skills such as swimming ‘can have previously unrecognised life-long benefits’, experts say!
The Independent Newspaper writes: Children who spend lots of time on the beach or near lakes grow up to be adults with better mental health, according to a new study. Research across 18 countries found that spending time in “blue spaces”, such as near the sea or inland waters, such as rivers and lakes, can improve mental wellbeing. Experts were motivated to explore the potential benefits of blue spaces after mounting evidence shows that spending time in green spaces is associated with improved mental wellbeing.
A survey co-ordinated by the University of Exeter’s European Centre for Environment and Human Health asked 15,000 people across 14 countries in Europe, and Hong Kong, Canada, Australia and Canada, about their childhoods. Participants were asked to recall their experiences of “blue spaces” up until the age of 16, including how often they visited them, how close they were and how often their parents allowed them to play in these areas.
They were also asked about their most recent contact with blue and green spaces over four weeks, and their mental health over a two-week period. Published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, the study found a link between more time spent in blue spaces and improved mental health in adulthood. This is because those who had more blue space experiences from childhood placed greater intrinsic value on natural settings and were more likely to visit them as adults.
As a result, spending time in these places was associated with better mental wellbeing. Valeria Vitale, a PhD candidate at Sapienza University of Rome and lead author of the study commented: “In the context of an increasingly technological and industrialised world, it’s important to understand how childhood nature experiences relate to wellbeing in later life. Our findings suggest that building familiarity and confidence in and around blue spaces during childhood may stimulate an inherent joy of nature and encourage people to seek out recreational nature experiences, with beneficial consequences for adult mental health.”
Experts also noted that many children may not grow up spending time near water as these settings can be dangerous for young people, and parents are rightly cautious. “This research suggests though that supporting children to feel comfortable in these settings and developing skills such as swimming at an early age can have previously unrecognised life-long benefits,” Dr Leanne Martin from the University of Exeter said.