fishing is good for you

Fishing is good for you!! By Dave Lewis

It’s official, angling really is good for you! Of course anglers have known for many years that the benefits to both their mental and general health from going fishing really are beneficial but now, under a pilot scheme GPs at seven surgeries in the Somer Valley, Somerset, will be able to prescribe fishing to those with conditions such as depression and anxiety. This significant endorsement of the sport’s life-changing qualities will begin with a trial scheme in the South West, with angling being an outdoor activity that is seen as being part of the ‘green prescribing’ solution linking countryside pursuits with restorative effects.

Simply spending time outdoors increases your vitamin D which helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in your body, helping to keep your bones and teeth healthy, while also boosting your immune system. Angling is proven to help individuals fight depression, with the activity making both a preventative and restorative contribution to mental health. Going fishing has a connection to happiness and wellbeing, and scientific research has shown that just being in nature can improve your mood, memory, and self-esteem. And if that were not enough, there’s also evidence it can reduce blood pressure and decrease the risk of certain cancers!

There are many other ways in which angling can be beneficial to a persons health, starting with improving an individuals full body strength. Playing even a small fish engages the shoulders, back, arms, core and legs in a workout, but of course the level of your ‘workout’ depends very much on the type of fishing you are involved in. Speaking from many years of personal experience I assure you that when I return home from a day spent aboard a boat or hiking and fishing along the coast I am usually physically shattered; and never do I sleep better!

Angling can help to improve family bonds as it’s an activity that often is passed down through the generations, with both parents and grandparents typically taking the children fishing. While I may have forgotten the exact sequence of events that took place on most of the days of my life that I have fished, I can clearly remember each and every time I have taken my two children fishing as if they were yesterday. Spending time with your family promotes feelings of security and well-being, making fishing a worthwhile activity to teach your children.

As we have already seen angling helps to boost our immune system by increasing Vitamin D. A day outdoors under the sun is the bodies best source of Vitamin D, which helps your body regulate the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, two minerals that improve immune system function and help defend against disease.

Of course it is no secret that angling promotes relaxation. Speaking from personal experience I assure you that spending long hours in a beautiful natural environment with a fishing rod is actually a form of meditation; and a part of the reason why angling is recognised as being an activity linked to lowered blood pressure and decreased anxiety.

Going fishing can actually help to improve your cardiovascular health, too. Depending on the kind of fishing you like to do, fishing burns an average of 200 calories an hour. Certainly a day walking the coastline or even spent aboard a boat will put your heart and lungs to work. Best of all by planning your fishing trip you can easily adjust the amount of your physical activity, in order to suit your individual limitations and requirements.

All too often in our service-oriented economy we rely on others to perform all kinds of functions in our daily lives, but angling teaches an individual self-reliance. Going fishing gets you out in the great outdoors, and requires that you to master a variety of different skills. The more involved with the sport the more you’ll skills you’ll learn, from the digging and collection of your own bait and hiking along the coast to locate your own marks, to learning how to safely operate your own boat at sea. This ability to solve problems for yourself will spill over into your normal life, which clearly will be a benefit to day to day living.

In our world of over-stimulation and instant gratification, fishing puts your patience to practice, it helps bestow patience on an individual. Rarely will you simply cast a baited line and hook a fish, indeed some days you go home empty-handed. But persisting makes you a more patient person, a person who can accept defeat but is unwilling to quit. M.J. Ryan, the author of “The Power of Patience,” explains that ‘learning patience benefits an individuals health. Whereas impatience causes stress which has the affect of weakening your immune system and raising your blood pressure, patience, meanwhile, makes you calmer and more content.’

Angling encourages travel, indeed anglers are among the most accomplished travellers on the planet; it may well be that it is your interest in angling that has been a primary factor in your decision to come and visit Wales! Certainly angling teaches a person to really appreciate and enjoy the natural environment, helping to inspire a closer connection with a regions amazing flora and fauna. Anglers are tuned in to the harmonious ecosystems in coastal and freshwater environments. They know all about the different fish that live in the water, what they eat, and their predators. If you want to know the identity of a particular bird, ask an angler!

Finally angling can also help improve your balance! Anyone who has ever caught a fish from a kayak will confirm that this requires some acrobatic manoeuvres. A day spent aboard a boat even under relatively calm conditions will require your body to constantly adjust to the gentle rocking and swaying motion; which of course is one reason why I am so physically tired and sleep so well following a day afloat. Balance requires core strength and benefits the bodied flexibility, both of which help offset back pain.

So there you are, angling really does offer so many more life enhancing benefits than simply the opportunity to take a breath of fresh air in a pretty place, and possibly catch a fish or two. Perhaps you should think of your holiday to Wales as being beneficial to your body and mind, an opportunity to improve your mental and physical well being. Certainly I can think of no more spectacular health spa or gym than the wonderful Welsh coastline!

Words & Images: Dave Lewis

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