At the risk of sounding like Zoolander, water is having a moment right now.
In a book out next month, Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In , On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do (Little, Brown and Company), marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols asserts that regular interaction with water is as integral to one's well-being as sunlight, exercise, and diet.
"Why is it we'll pay 30 percent more for a water view? It's where you want to spend your vacation: on the beach. It's what you want your home to face," Nichols says on the phone from his Bay Area home that, yes, is water adjacent. (The book's title is a reference to the state Nichols says one's brain assumes in the presence of water--a kind of relaxed euphoria.)
Using a combination of anecdotes and hard data, he makes a persuasive case for water's healing power.
Among the book's evidence: a study of college students that concluded spa bathing signifacntly reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol. And in a social experiment at train stations in Japan (where the suicide rate is high), the incidence of jumping onto tracks was completely curbed once aqua-blue lights were installed. One of the book's most convincing tidbits is a 2006 Irish study that concluded people living within five kilometers of the coast enjoyed higher life satisfaction.
Up for debate is whether this is due to their proximity to water or because people living near water tend to eat more fish and thus have diets higher in omega-3 acids, which have also been shown to reduce depression. Or, to Nichols' point about waterfront vistas, whether they simply have more disposable income with which to secure a good view.
Whatever the case, they're too happy to care.
--Amanda FitzSimons, Elle Magazine, June 2014
(pick up a copy from newstands for the full article and a feature about Angelina and Brad, who love water ; )