Thursday, 02 May 2013 09:45

Fishing Is Good For You!

Adam Landy debates whether fishing is beneficial to your health....
Well it’s fair to state that as far as I am concerned, I will always say that fishing is good for you, mostly because it is my passion in life. However, is there evidence to indicate that this is actually the case? The focus of this commentary is to discuss whether or not this is so, by considering the multiplicity of angling’s facets against the potential benefits.

Let’s start with considering the mental health benefits. It’s fair to argue that fishing is a great way of relieving stress, being popular among many recreationalists for this very purpose. However, what is the evidence to support this? Research into neurotransmitters has identified that the release of endorphins is closely associated with the feeling of well-being, these being released relatedly during exercise, feelings of excitement, relaxation or love. So the exercise had during fishing, be it accessing a venue or the physical act of fishing, the excitement of getting a bite or just relaxing on a beach, will all be contributory to a sense of well-being and has roots in our neurological health.  It is fair to imagine that for most anglers, when the rod arches over and is nodding away, most will feel excited, so while the body’s immediate response is to release endorphins, the lasting effect on our self-image is one of fulfilment and satisfaction. So we can, therefore, argue that there is evidence of why fishing is important for our mental health, especially combatting illness such as depression or feelings of stress. 

Fishing also provides a paradoxical opportunity to either reflect and contemplate, or completely dissociate from the stressors of life, depending on which method the person finds most beneficial. This coping strategy of taking a time-out is a healthy way of de-cluttering the mind, or giving oneself the room to creatively think about problems and formulate solutions away from the problem itself. Unless the problem, of course, is a lack of fish!

It is also arguable that the level of concentration by an angler is beneficial to cognitive functioning and a healthy brain. The act of learning and concentration is linked primarily to the hippocampus region of the brain, which provides the function of transferring data from short to long-term memory. This part of the brain is believed to be subject to plasticity, which means that if exercised regularly it has the capacity to grow (new neurons) and aid overall functioning. So it is quite apparent that fishing has the capacity to positively influence our neurology.

Moreover, there is also the social capital aspect. Whether you consider it sport or recreation, it bears no relevance to the range of peoples engaged in it; from young to old, amateur to professional, fishing is arguably one of the most inclusive recreational activities around. The sense of affinity with one another is not commonly found elsewhere. With an opportunity to create social bonds and sense of community around a shared interest; it is unquestionably going to contribute to a healthy self-image, a sense of belonging and a healthy mind. However, it is not limited to socialisation with like-minded others or forming new bonds; fishing is a great medium for familial bonding, through sharing experiences of nature and quality time together as a unit. Whether family members engage in fishing, come in an observational capacity or just come out to enjoy the environment, it can provide a sense of togetherness in forming memories to share, which is a part of mental positivity. Also, in getting younger people involved in fishing, it provides an opportunity to practically demonstrate some important cognitive skills such as; self-control, goal setting, planning, gathering information and responding to failure. Additionally, it is a medium to demonstrate key social values such as respecting others, respecting the environment and taking responsibility. Getting children away from televisions and video-games and engaged in physical activity in fresh air is going to be of great benefit to them and to parents alike.

So moving on to considering the physiological benefits. The most obvious is the aerobic exercise had in accessing a mark or venue, or just the physical activity of casting, winding in or setting up. Any physical activity is beneficial to the body. While the body releases chemicals which instil a sense of well-being during physical activity, it is also an opportunity to exercise the lungs, heart and muscles not ordinarily used. It is also a great opportunity to get the family active and, as mentioned above, get children away from the television, outside and active. Albeit a seeming rarity (due to weather), exposure to sunshine also has its physiological and psychological benefits. Although over exposure is harmful to health, a sensible dose of sunlight aids the body in synthesising vitamin D, which is associated with well-being and aiding normative functioning throughout the body. Sunshine is also considered to be an influence over mood and can actually aid symptoms of depression.

Then there is the consumption of fresh fish, which is known to have myriad benefits for good health. Nothing can compare to the taste of fresh fish, especially when you have landed your meal yourself. Moreover, the physical benefits of eating fish are; it is very low in fat, most contain healthy essential fatty acids (omega 3), white fish is rich in vitamin B12 (which helps normative brain functioning), oily fish are high in vitamins A, B12 and D, contain healthy proteins, is a source of iron and is easily digested. What more could you want from any foodstuff!

In conclusion, fishing is a healthy activity which offers opportunity to feel good mentally and physically, create new social bonds and be at one with nature. So the next time a significant other comments on the amount you are fishing, you can simply say: "It’s all in the name of good health."  Or at least that’s what I shall be saying!

TFF 770 x 210 subs ban

TFF 770 x 210 subs ban

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