Like we needed any more convincing that travel is making us better people, a new study by Michigan State University has revealed that sneaking off to your favourite isle is actually doing wonders for your health.
The study, which mapped citizens of the harbour city of Wellington in New Zealand, found that those who had daily access to “blue space” seemed to suffer from far less psychological distress than those who didn’t.
The research was conducted by profiling people who lived looking over the ocean, and cross-examined it against data from New Zealand’s health databases. Once they’d taken in to account other factors like age, sex and wealth, being by the ocean still seemed to improve your general mental health.
Speaking to Lonely Planet, the study’s co-author Amber Pearson correlates the fact that the brain finds it relatively easy to “efficiently process natural backdrops”. They reduce sensory stimuli and promote mental relation, she says. “Surely mental relaxation is part of the purpose of travel and holidays.” You betcha Amber.[related_articles]18734,26184,17625,11882[/related_articles]
The study wasn’t able to determine whether shorter times spent by water (say, a two week trip to the Bahamas) would have the same relaxing results, but it’s certainly possible. “In our study, we did not measure how long individuals lived in their neighbourhood and thus, the amount of time they were ‘exposed’ to blue space. We do not know yet how long it takes to be ‘exposed’. In other words, one may receive the mental health benefits immediately when looking at blue spaces.”
Interestingly, the study found that views over green spaces, like parks or forests, didn’t have the same effect, contradicting another recent study by the University of Exeter Medical School. This study found that when individuals were living near a park or greener urban space, they reported greater happiness and significantly higher life satisfaction than those who lived in densely populated areas.
In any sense, surrounding yourself with colours seems to be the right thing to do. Let’s seek out those blues and greens and get our city-slicker brains away from all those grey skyscrapers.
Here’s 10 of the world’s most colourful cities to get you inspired.
(Facebook image: Gray Malin)