The study, co-authored by Michigan State University’s Amber L. Pearson, is the first to find a link between health and the visibility of water, which the researchers call blue space.
“Increased views of blue space are significantly associated with lower levels of psychological distress,” said Pearson. “However, we did not find that with green space.”
Using various topography data, the researchers studied the visibility of blue and green spaces from residential locations in Wellington, New Zealand, an urban capital city surrounded by the Tasman Sea on the north and the Pacific Ocean on the south. Green space includes forests and grassy parks.
To gauge psychological distress, the researchers analyzed data from the New Zealand Health Survey. The national survey used the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale, or K10, which has proven to be an accurate predictor of anxiety and mood disorders.