Why the sea air is good for you

Late summer sunshine along the coast in Lowestoft. Samanath Godfrey with her son Tyler (3) having fu

Late summer sunshine along the coast in Lowestoft. Samanath Godfrey with her son Tyler (3) having fun on Lowestoft beach. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Sea air's not just good for you. It makes you sleep better too.

That's the verdict of a new report commissioned by the National Trust, which looks after some of Norfolk's most beautiful stretches of coastline.

It says a stroll at Brancaster, Blakeney Point or Sheringham Park can make us happier and provide much-needed escapism from the stresses of every day life.

Some 83pc of coastal walkers interviewed for the study said they felt calmer, while 82pc felt happier and more relaxed.

Psychologist Ellie Ratcliffe, who compiled the report Sleep, Mood and Coastal Walking, also found 62pc of those visiting coastal reserves enjoyed a deeper sleep, snoozing an extra 47 minutes on average afterwards.

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'Coastal walkers are getting more sleep with increased sleep quality and morning alertness,' she said.

'In addition, coastal walkers associated their walks with family, childhood memories and the anticipation of holidays.

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'It's clear that there is something really special about the coast, particularly as a place to escape to that can allow people to boost their mood, relax and sleep in.'

Her report found coastal walkers enjoyed 'significantly greater' effects than those choosing inland routes. Coastal walkers also recalled family holidays from their childhood, and found time to reflect on life.

Ben Cowell, the National Trust's regional director for the east of England, said: 'There's something almost magical about walking on the coast and taking in all the sights, sounds and smells. Even on a blustery autumn or winter day there's something about getting out onto our coastline and feeling like all the cobwebs are being blown away that can make you feel refreshed and relaxed. I'm not surprised to hear people feel they sleep better after all that fresh air too and we know our visitors love spending time in our coastal places, whether they're in shorts and t-shirts or wrapped up warm against the elements.'

Vic Cocker, secretary of Fakenham Ramblers, said: 'I'm not surprised, you do get a really beneficial feeling when you do the coastal walks. It's something about the fact the horizon is so big there, it relaxes you too.'

Have you got a favourite coastal walk? E-mail chris.bishop@archant.co.uk

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