When people are closer to nature, they tend to be less stressed, and their mood and general health improve. The benefits of ‘green spaces’ are well documented.
But now researchers are beginning to look at the health benefits of living near water. So far, studies have shown that people living near water have a lower risk of premature death, a lower risk of obesity, and generally report better mental health and well being.
The benefits of “blue space” – the sea and coastline, but also rivers, lakes, canals, waterfalls, even fountains – are less well covered, yet the science has been consistent for at least a decade: being by water is good for body and mind.
Proximity to water – especially the sea – is associated with many positive measures of physical and mental well being, from higher levels of vitamin D to better social relations.
For those that live in a bigger city, studies have shown people are more likely to experience mental health disorders. Possible contributing factors include overcrowding, pollution, urban violence and less social support.
We have seen how building landscapes in cities has been therapeutic.
But how does one bring the benefit of water to a landlocked area?
Well, first… some are trying virtual reality. And this is actually working for some.
Others… like the UK… are trying to regenerate canal networks.
During the Victorian era, canals in the UK were tremendously important to the economy. Canals allowed trade to happen and helped workers move around. These days, these canals are rarely used.
Now the UK is trying to get these canals going again to improve real estate. The canal networks will also help to control water levels, prevent floods and make cities more resilient to climate change.
In Scotland, land that previously flooded is now seeing the development of homes and businesses. The canals help control the flooding. Walking paths along the canals have been created too.
(source: We Forum, The Guardian, Science Direct)