I was reading an article on Anne Wiper, a vice president for SmartWool, the outdoor apparel company whose products use merino wool from specially selected sheep in New Zealand. The company claims that SmartWool’s products have the ability to regulate temperature and resist odor—without the itch. The article was mainly about the benefits and enjoyment Ann gets from stand-up paddle boarding. Coincidentally, I came across another article on the curative powers of the sea regarding pulmonary problems. In a recent study, doctors have found what many mothers, certainly mine, have long known—that people who spend time near the ocean report better overall health.
My family lived near the ocean in Newport, R. I., and my parents invited one of my cousins from New Hampshire to stay with us for a year to help her overcome serious complications from asthma. That my cousin was away from the family farm’s menagerie most likely didn’t hurt, but my mother was convinced that all of my cousin’s remarkable progress came from the sea. Decades later Marilyn still wrote to my parents thanking them for helping her overcome her frightening asthma attacks.
In a recent WSJ article on the benefits of breathing in beach air, Dr. Ferkol, president of the American Thoracic Society and a pediatric pulmonologist at Washington University in St Louis, reports, “In contrast to when you’re at home, at the beach you are more physically active, which moves things around and makes you feel good. The sounds of the breeze and repetitive waves can relax you, much as white noise can relax you…. I’m not sure how much of the improvement is spiritual, metaphysical or physiological, but I suspect it’s all.”
Thanks to Key West’s subtropical weather, paddleboard yoga is available whenever the mood hits. It’s a little daunting the first time out, and a slight bend to the knees and a centered core over the board is key to maintaining balance. On my first paddleboard class with Tara, whose tree-frog-like moves are a little perplexing, there were four bathtub-sized Manatees suspended under us in the mangroves. And while Manatees are not guaranteed as part of the package, you too can experience paddle boarding when visiting Key West. Just go to Lazy Dog near Cow Key Channel (MM 4). Whether or not you have pulmonary issues, several hours on the water is, as Dr. Ferkol correctly points out, a spiritual, metaphysical and physiological experience not to be missed.