If you reside in Ohio, Pittsburgh, Chicago or Connecticut, or any of the other major markets that populate Hilton Head during the summer, you’ve long known that a beach trip is beneficial to your health. It just feels better to be near the ocean. It may be time to call your favorite island realtor and pack the Penske. Turns out those blissful beach feelings are real, and there is science to back it up.

At last census, more than 87 million people, or 29%-plus of the U.S. population, live in coastline counties, including more than 41 million along the Atlantic shoreline. On Hilton Head Island, 40,500 people call themselves islanders, and in the summer months, that number swells to 150,000, a measurable testament to the restorative power the sea provides.

1. Water and the “Blue Mind” Effect

Melting your toes into the warm sand has been proven to reduce anxiety, inspire creativity and promote an overall feeling of well-being. This “Blue Mind” effect – the chance to escape the hyper-connected, over-stimulated state of modern life – has been proven to improve health and happiness. OM…..

2. Sunshine & Extra D

Lounging in the beach chairs provides a healthy dose of vitamin D, necessary for the absorption of calcium. Diet alone can be lacking in this powerhouse vitamin which is necessary for strong bones in young and old alike. D also improves autoimmune protection and lowers the risk of some cancers. But don’t forget the sunscreen!

3. Salty Sea Air

Charged with negative ions, sea air helps your body absorb oxygen, fight free radicals and improve alertness. Negative charged ions also balance out serotonin levels, the body chemical that manages stress and mood. The moist salty air also does wonders for the respiratory system.

4. An Outdoor Lifestyle

Studies show living by the beach encourages a more physically active lifestyle. Hilton Head’s safely paved bike paths and miles of wide sandy shoreline lead to increased exercise levels, especially outdoors. More physically active people tend to have a healthier diet too. A beach walk beats a rerun any day.

5. Increased Immune Function

If living near the water relaxes, reduces stress and leads to more exercise, your immune levels will follow suit. Your body’s own defense system is your best and first protection against a multitude of ailments, including inflammation. Stress is one of the primary enemies of modern life and reducing it is imperative to your good health.

Buying that dream beach house on Hilton Head shouldn’t seem like such a fairy tale after all.