You’ve probably already heard about how green spaces benefit human health and wellbeing. Now researchers are finding that spending time in blue spaces – beaches, lakes, rivers and fountains – may have a positive effect on us too.
Published in the journal Environmental Research, one recent study says all you have to do is take short, regular walks by a stretch of water to enjoy a mood and wellbeing boost.
The researchers behind the study, from the Barcelona Institue for Global Health, enrolled 59 adults for three weeks’ worth of tests. One week the volunteers spent 20 minutes a day walking in a blue space (in this case the beach in Barcelona). Another week they spent the same amount of time in an urban environment, walking around the city streets of Barcelona. And in the final week they simply stayed in doors and took it easy.
After analysing questionnaires that quizzed the volunteers’ about their wellbeing and mood, the experts discovered walking in the blue space improved their mood, vitality and mental health far more than walking around the city or staying at home.
“Our results show that the psychological benefits of physical activity vary according to the type of environment where it is carried out, and that blue spaces are better than urban spaces in this regard,” says Cristina Vert, the study’s lead researcher.
To our knowledge nobody has tried to find out which is best, green spaces or blue spaces. Your personal preference will probably depend on which of the two you have the best access to. Either way, green and blue spaces are enormously good for you, so take advantage of them if you can do so safely.