Ah, the ocean. It’s vast, beautiful and mysterious… and a healthy place to be.
If you’re living in a landlocked city (like me) you may feel a surge of energy and contentment when you take your first walk by the ocean. It could be the beauty, the space, or the time you are spending away from it all. However, it’s also because you are becoming charged with negative ions. So, besides the philosophical, emotional and spiritual benefits, science says that being beside the ocean is, in fact, good for your physical health!
Negative ions are oxygen atoms charged with an extra electron. They are created in nature by the effects of water, air, sunlight and the Earth’s inherent radiation.
They are invisible, tasteless and odourless. Once inhaled, they enter the bloodstream where they are believed to produce subtle biochemical reactions that increase levels of serotonin, a chemical associated with alleviating stress and depression and boosting daytime energy levels. Negative ions also increase the flow of oxygen to the brain; resulting in higher alertness, decreased drowsiness, and enhanced mental acuity.
They’re the strongest around running water and in nature and areas without the interference of pollution. And, yes, negative ions are particularly abundant by the ocean.
According to Dr. Michael Terman, a clinical psychologist and researcher at New York’s Columbia University, the action of the pounding surf creates negative ions in the air – exponentially higher levels than you will find in a typical urban environment.
The benefits are many: enhanced mood, heightened brain waves, increased sexual drive, less anxiety… the list goes on. It’s good stuff!
Some of us may be more sensitive to these negative ions than others and may even notice a significant difference simply by stepping outside after spending time in an air-conditioned room (air-conditioning kills negative ions).
How can we get more of this ion negativity in our lives? Ionizers – or artificial negative ion generators – have popped up on the market along with other man-made goodies you can purchase on Amazon and the likes. Many of these have solid science behind them.
Or you can do it the natural – and probably most effective – way. Make it a priority to spend time by the ocean (or other natural running water) and immersed in nature. With its sun and stellar beaches, the Caribbean’s always a good choice.
Take that trip to the ocean. It’s good for your health!
Kathy Parsons, The Santosha Life
Kathy Parsons is a Toronto-based yoga teacher and meditation guide. For more information, see About Us.