Essentially, blue spaces have the power to improve our mental and physical health and foster meaningful mind-body connections, the same way exercise can. “A blue space frame can increase physical activity levels, improve mood and well-being, and reduce stress and anxiety,” says Reena B. Patel, LEP, BCBApositive psychologist and behavior analyst certified by an accredited school board.
take your beach workouts, a lake, river, or other space near a natural body of water can provide cumulative benefits beyond what you would get from indoor gym workouts. “While exercise has many physical health benefits, it also plays a beneficial role in our mental well-being, and associating fitness and movement with blue zones can increase both,” says Patel.
Benefits of blue spaces for mind and body
The researchers reached the consensus that human relationships to water influence identity; sense of belonging and belonging; and physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. Throughout history, waterscapes have been a destination for relaxation, entertainment, sport and recreation, as well as being considered healing and invigorating. Although this has been evident in so many cultures for thousands of years, science also confirms it.
“Being in natural spaces was shown to improve well-being by lowering stress levels and reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression,” says Amy Mezulis, PhD, co-founder and clinical director of the online therapy platform Jun. “Time spent in blue spaces may help people protect against the effects of stress by reducing sympathetic nervous system activation, lowering cortisol levels, and expanding internal capacity to access good energy resources. adaptation.”
So what does this all mean? A calmer, less stressed version of yourself.
“Sensory input is a key component to cultivating mindfulness, and mindfulness has direct and indirect effects on mental health,” adds Dr. Mezulis. Blue spaces offer many sensory inputs, such as the color contrasts of water against the landscape and the sounds and smells associated with that water and its movement. “This sensory mindfulness, in turn, helps us slow down, ground ourselves in current reality, and find a sense of inner peace,” says Dr. Mezulis.
Combining fitness and blue spaces
It seems that just existing near water can bring more movement into your life. In fact, access to blue spaces is associated with significantly higher levels of physical activity, according to results published in The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The more blue spaces near you, the more active you are likely to be, which makes sense: in addition to offering opportunities for swimming or rowing a boat, many lakes and rivers are lined with running and biking trails, while the sandy beaches naturally invite active recreation, from surfing to volleyball to long walks (romantic or not).
Interesting way, several studies found that physical activity is the key ingredient that links being in natural spaces to better well-being. “People who use blue and green spaces for physical activity have better mental health outcomes than those who don’t,” says Dr. Mezulis. Of course, we know that physical activity has important mental health benefits, such as less stress, better perspective and better ability to solve problems. “Physical activity in a blue space maximizes these benefits,” she adds.
According to Dr. Mezulis, being active in spaces that encourage mental and physical balance likely helps you get more out of your mind-body connection. “Whenever we want to engage in behaviors that support our mental health and well-being, two important elements are time and intention,” says Dr. Mezulis. “We can make the most of blue spaces when we prioritize spending time in these spaces with the intention to make this time beneficial for our mental health.
How to start
If you want to take advantage of these benefits, intentionally schedule regular time to be in blue spaces and plan physical activity around these opportunities. Maybe it’s a walk to a local pond or river, or going swim in a lake. Even simple walks along streams or brief swims in the ocean can have mental health benefits if you bring a reflective mindset with you.
Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, incorporate the water itself into your workout and make the exercise more exciting by trying paddleboarding, surfing or kayaking to add variety.
Above all, pay attention: “Stay present by taking time to appreciate its beauty,” suggests Patel.