Beach Therapy

Are you a beach person?

Many years ago, I hated the beach. All that hot, dry sand sticking to your feet. The flatness. No trees, nothing green. The water as dull as the sand.

I used to love the mountains more than anything. The forest, the shade, maybe a lake or pond. The rise and fall of the landscape, rocky, steep, always changing. Every walk a challenge. Water that cascades and trickles and tumbles over stones. Every variation of the color green.

But these days I have switched alliances. While the mountains still entice me, I have fallen head over heels for the beach.

I don't want to sit on the beach, though. I prefer to stroll along at the edge of the water, dipping my toes in. Looking into the water for fish, or crabs, or rays. Spotting the beautiful shells, pebbles, sea glass, and other artifacts. Picking up bits of treasure as I stroll.

There are numerous benefits to spending time on the beach.

1) Walking barefoot is fantastic for your feet, ankles, knees, hips, and spine. There are hundreds of muscles in your feet, plus thousands of nerve endings, which are all stimulated and exercised only when you walk around barefoot. Once your feet are encased in shoes, much of the natural movement capacity of the foot is restricted. And all of your ability to sense through the bottoms of the feet is eliminated. Most of us never walk barefoot outdoors, except at the beach.

2) Walking barefoot (or lying) on sand and in the water allows your body to ground, that is, to absorb the natural healing energy of the earth. This sounds very woo-woo--out there--bizarre, but it has been proven that our bodies absorb free electrons when bare skin contacts the earth. This contact helps to lower cortisol levels, reducing anxiety, and boosting mood. A natural stress-reliever.

3) Scientists call it "blue mind." This is the state of mind that occurs when we look at the blue color of the ocean. Blue mind is a relaxed, positive, happy state of mind.

4) The air around the ocean is infused with negative ions. These have been proven to improve health, reducing bacteria and viruses in the air, making breathing easier. You find this same effect around waterfalls and other large bodies of water.

5) The beach is a great place to catch some rays. Rays of sunshine, that is. The sunlight is reflected off the water, potentially doubling your dose of Vitamin D. Yes, you can get some of your daily Vitamin D from food, but it is impossible to get enough solely from diet. The best way to ensure adequate levels is to get outdoors and soak up the sun.

When planning your next vacation, keep all these beach benefits in mind!