Washington DC: Did your weekend trip to the beach leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed? Well, now there's science that proves residents with a view of the water are less stressed.
The study, co-authored by Michigan State University's Amber L. Pearson, is the first to find a link between health and the visibility of water, which the researchers call blue space.
"Increased views of blue space are significantly associated with lower levels of psychological distress," said Pearson. "However, we did not find that with green space."
Using various topography data, the researchers studied the visibility of blue and green spaces from residential locations in Wellington, New Zealand, an urban capital city surrounded by the Tasman Sea on the north and the Pacific Ocean on the south. Green space includes forests and grassy parks.
To gauge psychological distress, the researchers analyzed data from the New Zealand Health Survey. The national survey used the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale, or K10, which has proven to be an accurate predictor of anxiety and mood disorders.
Pearson said that visibility of green space did not show the same calming effect. That could be because the study did not distinguish between types of green space.
"It could be because the blue space was all natural, while the green space included human-made areas, such as sports fields and playgrounds, as well as natural areas such as native forests," Pearson said. "Perhaps if we only looked at native forests we might find something different."
The study appears in the academic journal Health & Place.