The weather is warm and the beaches are beckoning. You need a little self-care time, and your kids could use a break, too. Luckily, taking your kids to the beach actually proves to be quite healthy and beneficial in a number of ways, according to science.
1. Being active at the beach releases endorphins.
Being active releases endorphins, which is why you feel so good after working out. Well, exercising on the sand or in the water is an even more intense workout, since it’s much harder to walk on sand than other surfaces — and, of course, water offers resistance.
So bring some fun games for the kids to play at the beach, or bring a bunch of buckets for a water-bucket relay race. You can even bring along a frisbee, a football, a soccer ball, a volleyball or some ping pong paddles. Whatever you decide on, make sure it’s a game or sport that’ll get the kids’ blood pumping.
And, the good news for you: They’ll be so tuckered out after playing in the sun all day, they (and, therefore, you) will sleep soundly at night.
2. The ocean has calming effects.
The ocean calms everyone down, and if your children have been working their tails off in school and during after-school activities like sports, some time by the seaside can feel rejuvenating.
According to research from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, for example, “blue space” like oceans, lakes and rivers actually has greater positive effects on people than “green space” like parks and lawns. In another more recent study, a team of researchers from New Zealand and the U.S. found that people who live in sight of water actually have lower levels of psychological stress.
More specifically, in a 2011 study, researchers at Washington University and UC Irvine found that trips to the ocean actually reduce stress, increase creativity and ease feelings of depression and anxiety. Beach trips are overall restorative for psychological well-being, the research found.
3. Sunlight can be beneficial, and it just plain feels good.
Sunlight, of course, means more Vitamin D. And Vitamin D provides a number of benefits. It’s good for your children’s bones and great for lowering blood pressure. It supports the immune system and can lower the risk of heart attacks, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
And beyond all that, sunlight simply feels good. That’s because sun increases levels of serotonin, which is known as the feel-good “happy chemical.”
4. Playing with water helps kids learn.
A wealth of research suggests that water activities are actually a form of sensory play that enables children to learn how the world works. Water play helps kids develop tactile processing skills, encourages balance and strength, improves motor skills, works on problem-solving (what toys will sink, and what will float?), and helps kids learn about physics.
“Young children are drawn to water,” Pamela Taylor, an early childhood development instructor at Grant MacEwan College in Toronto, Canada, told Today’s Parent. “They’re curious about it. It’s a universally appealing play material with unlimited possibilities.”
And don’t sweat it if you can’t afford to take the kids on a beach vacation right now; you can have a “beach day” right at home in your own backyard. Here are some ways to get kids active and around water for the same sort of effects:
- Set up the aforementioned games in the backyard to get kids’ blood pumping.
- Have a pool day (a blow-up kiddie pool works great).
- Water plants outside for a different kind of water play.
- Turn a sprinkler on in the backyard.
- Have a family relay race in the yard or park.
This article originally appeared on Fairygodboss. As the largest career community for women, Fairygodboss provides millions of women with career connections, community advice and hard-to-find intel about how companies treat women.