Blue Health for Beginners and Ocean Accessibility
Blue health, put simply, refers to the positive effect that blue environments have on our mental wellbeing. Being in close proximity to a body of water such as rivers, lakes or the sea has now been scientifically proven to reduce stress and improve our mental health and happiness. Whether you’re swimming, surfing, paddle-boarding, sailing, rowing, splashing in the shallows or purely walking alongside the water, you’re more or less guaranteed a mood boost!
What is blue health?
You know that smile that spreads across your face after a cold water swim, or the sense of calm you feel after an evening dog walk along the beach? That’s blue health.
BlueHealth is an initiative spanning across Europe that is committed to discovering the links between blue spaces, the climate and our health. Their research aims to showcase the correlation between water and our mental wellbeing, whilst working on ways in which blue spaces can be more accessible to all.
This research is being carried out across the U.K., Spain, Sweden, Estonia, the Netherlands, Italy, Greece and Germany, and is being led by researchers from the University of Exeter in Truro, Cornwall. International expert in the field of Oceans and Human Health, Prof. Lora Fleming, said, “This project builds on ground-breaking research we’ve already conducted here in Cornwall. We’re immensely excited to get this project underway and begin unpicking the ways in which ‘blue’ environments can be used to improve health and wellbeing.”
You can feel blue, too
“How can I benefit from blue health?” we hear you cry. It’s easier than you may think. If you’re able, don your swimmers and dive right in. Research by the BlueHealth initiative shows that everyone in the U.K. lives within 2.5km of a water body, and the positive effects of blue health don’t have to be through submersion. Reap the rewards by walking along a canal tow path, trying SUP yoga, skimming stones at your local duck pond or eating your fish and chips on the harbour wall.
Having trouble sleeping? It has also been hypothesised that the salty sea air is a great nightcap. Ocean air is full of negative ions which help the body take in more oxygen, whilst balancing your serotonin levels. It’s thought that this combination allows for an uninterrupted, more relaxed slumber. A lot of the time, mild insomnia can be boiled back to anxiety. Enter blue health, making you feel positive and calmer. An evening stomp by the sea or a quick dip before dinner could be your high speed ticket to dream-town.
The powerful, positive effect of the ocean should be for everyone. There are lots of beaches with disabled access across Britain, many of which offer beach-friendly wheelchairs to hire, wooden boardwalks stretching the length of the sand and even pony trap rides through the shallows, that can be loaded with manual wheelchairs and power-chairs. For more information on these accessible ocean experiences click here. Or, for a list of beaches with wheelchair hire in Cornwall, click here.
There are also many incredible charities that are working throughout the U.K. and Ireland to bring the ocean to everyone. The Mae Murray Foundation in Northern Ireland have created Inclusive Beaches that aim to make one beach in every council area accessible to people with disabilities. The charity provide beach chairs, floating chairs and sand-friendly walkers and crutches plus hoists, shower chairs and wheelchair walkway matting.
The Wave Project are a surf therapy charity founded in Cornwall who “harness the power of the ocean to improve the mental health of children and young people”. They offer Surf Therapy, Adaptive Surfing, Surf to Work, Beach School and Wave Rangers sessions and focus on boosting confidence, making the ocean accessible to all and giving young people a sense of belonging. Wave Project sessions are free and run by an army of volunteers across the country.
Here at Robie we’ve always been aware of the positive effects of the sea on both our mental and physical wellbeing. With this in mind, we originally created our towelling robe to bookend the cold water experience with something that made changing easy and stress-free, therefore not taking away from the positive experience. We encourage everyone, of all ages, backgrounds, abilities and geography to seek solace in saltwater, head out for a waterside wander or join your local outdoor swim club. We guarantee you’ll feel better for it.