Ocean swimming benefits: Skin health and stress relief

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A person swims in the ocean at sunset.

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The ocean has always held strong allure — standing before it, we can’t help but feel that we’re in the presence of magic. But we might not realize that beyond its natural beauty lies a plethora of health benefits waiting to be discovered. From wading on the shore to riding the rush of waves, swimming in the ocean is an undeniably fun and uniquely rejuvenating experience. Read on to explore and get insights from Courtney Morgan, LPCC and founder of Counseling Unconditionally into the many ways ocean swimming can positively impact your mental and physical health.

Relieve stress

There’s a reason why so many people find clarity and inspiration by the sea. According to Morgan, “Many people think of the beach when they are thinking about a calm and relaxing place, and for good reason.” The rhythmic sound has a soothing effect on the mind, helping to relieve stress and tension.

One woman, a young woman on a reef by the sea, meditates at sunset in the evening, watching the sun set over the sea.
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No wonder it’s one of the most popular choices for white noise — taking a swim can help quiet the chaos of everyday life, allowing you to look inward and reconnect with yourself on a deeper level. Morgan adds, “Swimming in the ocean is grounding, as the change of scenery and pace helps us to put ourselves and our experiences into perspective.” The meditative nature of swimming, combined with the sensory stimulation of saltwater and fresh air, creates a peaceful atmosphere found in very few other places in the world.

Improve skin and respiratory health

Saltwater is a natural antiseptic, renowned for its ability to cleanse and purify the skin. US Dermatology Partners notes that swimming in the ocean can help exfoliate the skin and reduce inflammation, which can improve side effects of skin conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Additionally, the Lung Institute highlights that salt particles in the air can have a therapeutic effect on the respiratory system, reducing uncomfortable symptoms like congestion and sinus pressure. Breathing in the fresh, salty air can leave you feeling invigorated, ready to make the most of the rest of the day.

A young boy plays in the ocean covering his face.
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Boost your immune system

The ocean is packed to the brim with beneficial minerals and nutrients. The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) notes that swimming in saltwater can help replenish essential minerals such as magnesium, potassium, calcium and zinc, which play a vital role in supporting immune function and overall well-being.

Morgan explains, “Getting sun exposure at the beach or in the ocean increases serotonin levels, triggers the production of vitamin D, regulates circadian rhythms, and reduces stress. All of these play a part in promoting mental health and wellness.” By immersing yourself in the ocean, you’re giving your body a boost that strengthens its defenses.

Get a full-body, low-impact workout

Ocean swimming stands out as an excellent form of exercise. The waves, currents and tides make for a constantly changing landscape that requires agility and endurance to navigate. You’ll find yourself engaged in a full-body workout that lights up muscles you never knew you had. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the buoyancy of saltwater takes the pressure off joints and muscles, fully supporting the body. The water offers gentle resistance, making swimming an ideal low-impact workout for anyone, but especially for those who are living with any type of pain or arthritis.

A man exercises by swimming in the ocean with a swim cap and goggles on.
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Practice mindfulness and meditation

One mindfulness technique that Morgan recommends for the beach is focusing on your senses: “This would include things like listening to the sound of waves crashing, the smell of the air, and the feeling of the sunshine on your skin or sand on your toes.”

Full length of woman walking on wet sea shore at sunset. Female in sundress is leaving her footprints on sand.
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Another technique she suggests is a walking meditation along the ocean, where you pay close attention to the sensation of movement, the rhythm of your breathing, and the things around you. “When practicing a walking meditation at the beach, you may be aware of the feeling of sand on your feet, the sounds of the ocean, and birds chirping,” Morgan says. These mindfulness practices can enhance your beach experience, helping you to relax and reflect more deeply.

Swim for better health

In a world filled with stress and uncertainty, the ocean stands as a timeless symbol of vitality. Whether you seek it out with a specific goal in mind or simply with a sense of open curiosity, swimming in the ocean will leave your body and soul rebalanced. You may be surprised at the transformative power it holds.

*This article contains general health information and is intended for educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult a qualified healthcare provider if you have medical questions and before making any decisions or changes related to your health.

This story was originally published May 28, 2024, 12:43 PM.

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Allison Palmer brings a unique blend of expertise to her work as a Content Specialist. From her early days in clinical research, she has been driven by a passion for making a positive impact. Inspired by her interactions with patients, she aims to carry that spirit of advocacy into all of her professional and personal pursuits. A college workshop featuring a visiting author solidified her love for writing, leading her to blend her dedication to improving health outcomes with the craft of powerful storytelling. Allison hopes her readers not only learn from what she writes but also feel empowered to make sustainable changes in their lives. In her free time, she can be found immersed in a good book, exploring new travel destinations, or cooking her favorite recipes in the kitchen. Join her as she explores the intersection of wellness, innovation, and words.

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