Taking short and frequent walks through blue spaces – those where there is water, such as beaches, lakes, rivers or fountains – could bring benefits to people’s well-being and mood. This is demonstrated by research led by the Institute of Barcelona Global Health (ISGlobal), center driven by “La Caixa Foundation”.
The study, published in Environmental Researchy developed within the framework of the project Blue Health, is based on data from 59 participants. They all walked 20 minutes a day for a week for a blue space; another week they did it for a urban space and, another, they spent the same time resting in a living room.
Barcelona beach it constituted the blue space, while the urban space was formed by a route through the streets of the city. The research team measured the well-being and mood parameters before, during and after each activity using questionnaires, as well as the blood pressure and heart rate of each participant.
“We saw a significant improvement in well-being and mood just after walking through the blue space, compared to walking through the urban space or rest,” explains Cristina Vert, first author and researcher at ISGlobal. Specifically, after briefly walking on the beach, the participants noted improvements in their mood, vitality and mental health.
On the contrary, the team has not identified benefits for cardiovascular health, although they consider that it may be due to the conditions of the study itself. “We have evaluated the immediate effects of briefly walk in front of a blue spaceVert says. “Continuous and long-term exposure to these sites could have positive effects on cardiovascular health.”
“The psychological benefits of physical activity vary according to the environment in which it is carried out, being better in blue spaces than in urban spaces,” he says. Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, study coordinator and director of the ISGlobal Urban Planning, Environment and Health Initiative.
The psychological benefits of physical activity vary according to the environment in which it is carried out, being better in blue spaces than in urban spaces.
Numerous investigations from the same center endorse the benefits that green spaces bring to health, from the reduction of risk of obesity, improved child care, or slowing of physical decline during aging. This study adds blue spaces as a favorable environment for mental health.
“According to United Nations data, 55% of the world population currently lives in cities. It is crucial to identify and enhance those elements, such as blue spaces, that improve our health, “concludes Nieuwenhuijsen. “Only in this way can we create more livable, sustainable and healthy cities.”