A 15-country study has confirmed that people living near or visiting the seaside enjoy better health.

The concept that proximity to the ocean could foster better health isn’t entirely novel. We can trace this idea back to 1660, when English physicians started advocating for sea bathing and coastal strolls as wellness practices.

By the mid-19th century, indulging in “the waters” or breathing in the “sea air” became common health remedies among the affluent Europeans.

However, the advent of technological advancements in medicine during the early 20th century brought about a decline in these natural wellness traditions. Only recently has the medical profession started to rekindle this interest.



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.

The study used secondary data from surveys to investigate: (a) relationships of self-reported home coastal proximity and coastal visits with self-reported general health; (b) the potential of both to buffer income-related health inequalities; and (c) the generalizability of these propositions across 15 countries.

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.”

Further information can be read in Earth.com and from the University of Vienna. The findings are published in the journal Communications Earth & Environment.


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