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Cost-free benefits for body and mind

A couple and their baby take a stroll along the beach in winter.
A couple and their baby take a stroll along the beach in winter. / EFE
  • A trip to the beach can be very good for the health at this time of year too, not just in summer

At this time of year, as winter approaches, many of us forget about the beach. That's something of a paradox in a province with such a lovely climate as Malaga with its 180 kilometres of coastline, and even more so if we bear in mind the numerous benefits which a simple stroll along the sand can have for our bodies.

María José Castro, who is a specialist in Anesthesiology and Recovery at the Malaga regional hospital, says "a trip to the beach provides a great many health benefits which cost nothing, and they are easily accessible for the majority of people". These are just some of the benefits she describes:

1. Sand and sea water, a very powerful cocktail for the skin

The skin is the most extensive organ of the body and men as well as women spend time, effort and money on caring for it. On the beach we can benefit from some very basic and effective treatments which are good for the skin, make it tauter and improve its appearance. Sand is an excellent natural exfoliant, so walking barefoot along the shore helps to keep our feet soft. As well as providing a toning massage, this stroll along the water's edge also improves certain minor and unsightly conditions, such as hard skin, and the healing effects of the sea water helps wounds on the lower limbs to recover. Because of the amount of mineral salts and trace elements it contains, the sea is a major source of benefits for the health of our bodies.

2. The sea breeze helps to control anxiety

Being on the beach makes you feel good and improves your state of mind, doesn't it? Well, that feeling of pleasure isn't coincidental. The negative ions in the sea breeze have the ability to raise levels of serotonin, a substance which has an incredible influence on the state of mind, so being on the beach reduces stress and anxiety.

3. The sea, an ally for the cardiovascular system and muscles

It takes guts to dive into the sea in early December... and you also need to use common sense. If you want to stimulate your circulation and strengthen your muscles, go ahead and take the plunge, but only do it when there isn't much difference between the temperature of your body and that of the water, otherwise you could suffer more serious problems than just feeling cold. Don't worry about whether people will admire your style: by swimming you will stimulate your cardiovascular system. The venous return of the body is always passive and by activating your musculature to swim the muscles themselves will contract the veins, making it easier for the blood to return to the heart. Swimming is also a frictionless exercise, and your joints will suffer less.

4. You'll breathe better

If you have a respiratory illness you will benefit from the bronchodilatory effect of the sea air, which acts like a natural spray. The bronchi open up more and this favours the gaseous exchange. The sea breeze is loaded with natural ozone and trace elements, beneficial substances which we incorporate into our bodies through breathing.

5. Help for the thyroid gland

Sea water can be a great help if you suffer from thyroid problems because it is high in minerals such as iodine and selenium. The thyroid is a gland involved in the functions of temperature regulation, cardiac frequency and stress level; in fact, it plays an important part in the internal balance of the body, and you can help to improve this by swimming in the sea.