You’ve heard it before: a bad day fishing is better than a good day at the office. Cliché, we know, but it’s also true. Even when you’re not successful at it, fishing is fun, offering a simple, easy escape from all the uncertainties in the world right now. But more important than that, a day of fishing is actually good for you. There’s a growing amount of scientific research that suggests the act of fishing can provide lifelong mental and physical benefits, from lowering your blood pressure to improving your memory. Here are four ways fishing can make you a happier, healthier individual.
Fishing can lower stress
Stacks and stacks of research are suggesting that time spent in nature is the best medicine. A series of studies has shown that regular exposure to nature helps lower people’s levels of cortisol, the hormone that causes stress. And fishing takes these health benefits up a notch. A 2009 study of combat vets found those who participated in fishing had significant reductions in post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, and were even able to sleep better. According to research from Harvard, fishing is the type of activity that breaks the pattern of everyday thinking, inviting you to focus completely on a simple task. The repetitive movements and increased sense of focus that fishing requires are essentially a form of meditation in the outdoors. New studies even suggest that simply being close to water can significantly lift people’s moods.
And make you smarter
If you’ve never cast a line before, now is the time to start. A study published in Psychological Science showed adults who learn a complex skill show improvement in overall memory, while Harvard University’s McLean Hospital insists the best way to slow down cognitive decline is by learning new skills and practicing new hobbies. And even if you’re not new to fishing, the sport can still have mental benefits because it’s the sort of skill you work to master over a lifetime. “We can teach anyone to cast a fly line in 30 minutes,” says Alex Quick, head fishing guide at Blackberry Mountain in Tennessee. “But fishing is a lifelong thing that you get better at over the years. You never stop learning how to fish.”
It’s also good for your body—and your heart
Fishing might look like a sedentary sport compared to, say, ultrarunning, but you’re never truly still when you’re fishing. You’re hiking, casting, climbing over rocks, wading into water…fishing is actually a total body workout, offering low-impact exercise that can burn up to 450 calories an hour if you’re wading in water and scrambling along the river’s edge. And it’s not just the act of fishing that’s good for your body; depending on what you’re fishing for and where, eating what you catch can be a smart choice as well, since wild fish are low in fat and cholesterol and high in protein, according to the American Heart Association. Because fish is so high in omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower blood pressure and reduce blood clotting while decreasing your risk of stroke and heart failure, the Mayo Clinic suggests you eat at least two servings of fish a week.
Fishing makes the world a better place
The fees you pay for a fishing license go directly to fund water and land conservation programs in your state and throughout the United States. More forests and cleaner rivers, lakes, and oceans mean more opportunities for you to tap into the free medicine that fishing and surrounding yourself with nature represent. It’s a loop of positive reinforcement. For information on all that, and how fishing can help boost your self-esteem and clear your head, check out Take Me Fishing's blog on the additional mental benefits of fishing.
Take Me Fishing is a national campaign from the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation. RBFF helps people of all ages and experience levels, learn, plan and equip for memorable moments on the water.