Effects on general health associated with beach proximity in Barcelona (Spain)

Health Promot Int. 2020 Dec 1;35(6):1406-1414. doi: 10.1093/heapro/daaa013.


Health benefits of blue spaces have been less studied compared with other urban natural environments. As a type of blue space, beaches are also affected by this lack of evidence, despite their cultural and economic importance in lots of coastal regions all over the world. Based on secondary health data from 3192 participants of the Health Survey of Barcelona 2016, we conducted a logit regression analysis to explore the relationship between people's general health and beach proximity from their dwelling place, controlling for several health determinants. Our main results suggested that having good general health was less likely for a 1-km increase in the linear distance to the closest beach from people's dwelling places (OR: 0.93; 95% CI: 0.87, 1.00). Moreover, the probability of having good general health was 45% higher for people living in the first 2 km from the beach (OR: 1.45; 95% CI: 1.01, 2.09), relative to those living >5-10 km from it. Also, these health effects were stronger for people with a low family income. These findings contribute to grow the currently small body of research related to health benefits of beach spaces. Likewise, they encourage fostering the use of these spaces for health promotion in cities, as well as protecting them and improving their accessibility and safety. Further research should lean towards the underlying causes of these health benefits linked to people's exposure to beach spaces.

Keywords: blue spaces; healthy cities; salutogenesis; therapeutic landscapes.

MeSH terms

  • Cities
  • Environment*
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Regression Analysis
  • Spain