A Few Great Physical & Mental Health Benefits You’ll Get from Fishing
The old proverb goes something like this: “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and you’ll feed him for a lifetime.” Well, it turns out learning to fish may also make a man or woman healthier during their lifetime.
There are a number of both physical and mental health benefits you can achieve through fishing, and nearly anyone can do it so long as you have a body of water nearby. Once you get the right equipment and figure out the basic techniques to become a successful fisherman like how to use your baitcaster, fishing can be a great way to get outdoors and improve your overall health.
There’s a reason why many organizations around the world utilize therapeutic fishing programs for individuals who may be suffering from PTSD, severe depression, or recovering from serious illness. And while some types of fishing can prove to be an expensive sport or hobby, most fishing is relatively cheap and provides just as much health benefits as an expensive gym membership or yoga classes can offer.
Here are just some of the many ways you can improve your overall health by taking up fishing, whether you’re after mahi-mahi in the Gulf of Mexico or salmon in Alaska.
Reduce Your Stress
We of course can’t survive without water, but its benefits go well beyond simply drinking it. Being around bodies of water whether it’s an ocean, lake, or river has been shown to make people generally happier and calmer. Studies have shown our heart rate slows down when we’re around water, so long as there isn’t a shark or crocodile present of course.
Being around moving water has a number of effects on the body that most people are unaware of. So-called invisible negative ions are generated by moving water which then enter our bloodstream and increase serotonin which can relieve stress, alleviate depression, and give us an energy boost.
When we’re stressed, our immune system suffers. This makes us vulnerable to the many diseases and bacteria that we’re exposed to on a daily basis. And, with the recent COVID-19 pandemic, many people are now more aware than ever about how stress can lead to or worsen illnesses. Stress may just be a preexisting condition that could make Covid-19 infections more severe, but further research is still needed to confirm this.
Many top destinations to go fishing just so happen to be in destinations where people are generally happy. This is largely due to being around water. There is a reason why many of the world’s most expensive homes and neighborhoods are those directly on the beach or with access to water like lakes or rivers.
And because being around water engages all our senses, it can put is in meditative state, especially when fishing since we are focused on one task with very few if any outside distractions.
Get Your Vitamin D
Fishing means being outdoors, and being outdoors means getting sun on your sun face, at least if you choose a sunny day to fish of course. Not only do most of us enjoy the sun, our bodies actually require it to remain in optimum health.
Sun exposure allows your body to produce Vitamin D. Now you might have heard that our bodies can’t produce vitamins, but Vitamin D isn’t technically a vitamin at all and is in fact what is known as a prohormone. We won’t dive too deep into the complicated science, but there are a number of reasons why we all need the sun and Vitamin D.
Vitamin D aids in keeping your immune system healthy, and being deficient in Vitamin D can lead to increased autoimmunity along with a greatest risk for infections. Many studies have shown that vitamin D can protect you against a range of diseases and some have even shown it may offer a greater resistance to viruses like the flu.
Vitamin D also supports brain and nervous system health, along with helping you retain healthy bones and teeth. Maintaining adequate levels of Vitamin D can also support lung function and cardiovascular health. Meanwhile, a deficiency of Vitamin D can lead to muscle pain, general fatigue, and hair loss.
Lastly, Vitamin D helps regulate the brain’s adrenaline and dopamine production as well as reducing the risk of serotonin depletion. This all adds up to a lower risk of depression. So the sun actually does make us happier.
Of course, too much of a good thing can be bad, especially without proper sun protection. Being out on the water fishing puts you at a greater risk for sunburn due to the enhanced effects of the sun’s harmful UV rays being reflected off the water, so always slap on the sunscreen before you load up the tackle box.
Get Your Exercise
We haven’t even talked about the exercise benefits that you can get from fishing. You may envision simply sitting in a boat all day when you picture fishing, but many forms of fishing are actually quite physical.
Many fishermen hike decent distances along riverbanks in search of the perfect fishing hole. Fly fishing also often involves wading into rivers and streams where you must fight the current and maintain your balance, engaging both leg and core muscles.
You can also fish from a kayak to add even more exercise. Traditional kayaks powered by paddles and your arm strength are one option, or you can exercise your legs with a pedal-powered kayak. Even when fishing from a powered boat, there’s still effort needed to launch your boat.
Ask any deep-sea fisherman whose reeled in a monster tuna, swordfish, or tarpon, and they’ll tell you just how much effort and strength it requires to land a prize catch into a boat. There is all kinds of pulling, twisting, and bending going on when reeling in a fish, not to mention all the arm movements involved with fly fishing.
Even better is the fact that all this fishing exercise is considered to be a low impact workout that’s easy on the joints, making it great exercise for all age groups and fitness levels.
Improve Your Cardiovascular Health and Sleep
Many people, especially in big cities, are exposed to all kinds of air pollutants. Even when in the so-called safety of our homes, we tend to breathe air that isn’t exactly optimal when it comes to having the right levels of oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide.
Going fishing in pristine natural environments allows us to breath fresher air with more oxygen. Fresh air has been found to be effective treatment for several types of asthma, not to mention the fact fresher air will increase serotonin which will make you feel happier and more relaxed.
Breathing fresh air will allow your lungs to be cleansed, getting rid of bad junk and allowing your body to make any necessary repairs. The combination of breathing healthier air and being calmer will also improve your heart health as your heart rate slows down and blood pressure is lowered.
Being more relaxed throughout the day through breathing fresher air will also allow you to get better sleep. You’ll find you’ll also enjoy better sleep thanks to exercising outdoors and removing yourself from TV, laptop, and smartphone screens.
Enjoy a Healthier Diet
You can also benefit from fishing by eating what you catch. Fish is full of nutrients and offers a low-fat high quality protein meal. Meals consisting of fish are some of the most heart-healthy foods you can consume.
In addition to the protein, you’ll also benefit from omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, good cholesterol, calcium, and phosphorus. You’ll also get many of your required daily minerals including iron and potassium through fish.
It has even been shown that kids who eat fish have a reduced risk of suffering from asthma. Look to eating fish like salmon, trout, and tuna for the most nutrients.
Other Benefits of Fishing
In addition to the many physical and mental health benefits you can gain from fishing, it can also help you in other areas of your life. Fishing teaches you to have patience and can improve your focus. It can allow you to become a better problem solver and build your self-esteem when you are successful in landing fish.
Fishing can allow you time to self-reflect on your emotional well-being and behaviors when going solo, or it can help strengthen bonds between friends and family while also allowing time to talk together about serious issues away from distractions. These are just some of the many benefits that getting outdoors and fishing can offer you.