Did you know 6.1 million U.S. citizens enjoy fly fishing as a pastime ?
This means more and more people are being introduced to the pleasures and payoffs of the leisure activity and sport. These payoffs come in the form of both mind and body benefits.
Fly fishing, or fishing with (often) small artificial insects by way of weighted line and a longer bendable fishing rod, offers physical, mental, social and psychological advantages to those who participate.
Let’s take a look at five health benefits of fly fishing that might surprise you.
1. Your Very Own Outdoor Therapy
The great outdoors has many health benefits. One of its most promising is its positive effects on your mind and mental state. If you’re ready to go fly fishing, prepare for some of these added extras.
Improving Short-Term Memory
Getting some fresh air can do wonders for your recall capacity! Studies have shown that even a few minutes in a rugged outdoor setting can improve your short-term memory by as much as 20%.
Restoring Mental Energy
Significant exposure to the outdoors has been linked to the reduction in what doctors call “mental fatigue.” It’s as if the stream, trees and sky function as a healing avenue for the mind.
One study even showed that just looking at pictures of nature for a period of time was enough to restore participants’ mental energies. But take our word for it, the real deal is better! Get outside and set your mind right.
Enhancing Attention Span and Concentration
Outdoor activities such as angling have been shown time and again to increase a person’s attention span and ability to focus on tasks. These results were even found when a person simply saw a beautiful nature scene through a window.
Improving Thinking Ability and Creativity
The great outdoors is one therapeutic prescription with absolutely no negative side effects. But it packs a powerful amount of benefits.
Time in nature clears the mind and enhances thinking capacity. This clearer mind often lends itself to an increase in creativity. Some of the most successful authors, poets and script attribute their greatest inspiration to a stroll outdoors.
2. Physical Activity
By now, we all know many of the benefits of regular physical activity.
When we have adequate physical activity, we feel better. We think better. We interact with others better.
A Counterbalance and Low Impact Exercise
Fly fishing offers low impact exercise and a counterbalance for those of us who spend all day sitting at a desk.
Fly fishing requires that you stand on your feet sometimes hours at a time. But you don’t have to stay rooted to the spot. Gently stretch your legs or walk around periodically to maintain adequate circulation and prevent stiffness.
Reeling and Casting
Believe it or not, the acts of reeling and casting are quite the upper body workout. These actions work your shoulders and arm muscles with minimal strain to your wrists (especially if you’re practicing good form and casting correctly).
Up Against a Current
When you’re trying to keep your fly fishing stance in the water, you’re working your legs, core and back muscles. This is true even when you’re standing still, partly due to the force of water current you have to stabilize against.
For the Couch Potato
Fly fishing is a perfect option for the person who remains fairly stationary all day. Or the couch potato who doesn’t particularly thrive on intense workouts or even a walk in the park. It offers just the right amount of exertion to work your muscles without straining them to the point of excess. There are plenty of “weekend warrior” spots that can be accessed mere feet from parking your car on the side of the road, or parking lot.
For the Person With Limited Mobility
The beauty and art of fly fishing attract people of all ages. It’s also a great exercise option for the older person or the person with limited mobility.
Fly fishing provides an opportunity to experience minimally demanding exercise. This allows you to choose how much or how little you move around on any given fishing trip. Some trips may warrant a mile hike or more to get to the good water. Some just a few meters.
3. Stress Relief and Mindfulness Meditation
Fly fishing offers you beautiful natural surroundings and fresh air. Both of these have been proven to lower cortisol in the body and raise dopamine and serotonin, the mood-elevating hormones.
Calming the Mind
The great outdoors in and of themselves have been shown to relieve stress and calm the mind. Fishing can also be a form of mindfulness meditation to relax your mind and body.
Letting Go and Non-Attachment
You can choose to focus on your breath as you hold your fly rod, calming your mind and body. Or, you can concentrate on a particle floating in the water. Either way, you’ll feel an immediate sense of stress relief and release.
Following Without Clinging
As you follow the particle downstream, you can practice the art of letting go and non-attachment. Non-attachment is when you watch a moving target and make the intention to be indifferent no matter what happens. This allows you to stay alert and relaxed at the same time. The most generally accepted practice of “catch and release” fishing is also a great example of this practice.
4. Social Engagement and Meeting New People
We were designed for connection. People need people. There’s no arguing that.
Fly fishing gives you a wonderful opportunity to spend time with an old buddy. Or, you can invite a new acquaintance along for the ride. You may just find a new best friend.
Keep in mind that angling can be done alone. But it’s not recommended for many reasons. Let’s explore a few.
One of the most important is due to safety. If you were to slip and hit your head, you could be seriously injured, and it could be a while before someone found you.
Embracing the Social Experience
Another good reason not to fish by yourself is that it’s so much more fun sharing the experience with another.
Whether with a spouse, child, uncle or friend, fishing will bring laughs, excitement, and challenges to your day.
5. Healing Properties of Nature
Nature also has fascinating healing properties for physical ailments and injuries.
Inflammation is a healthy response to an injury or certain viruses. But it does have a tendency to go above and beyond its usefulness, crossing over into unhelpful swelling or autoimmune issues.
Nature has been known to decrease unnecessary swelling in participants in various studies. With fly fishing in particular, standing in a cool river may just be the ticket to helping an old inflamed knee or ankle.
There have been links between prolonged exposure to nature and the decreased chances of developing nearsightedness in children. As if you needed any more reasons to get your kids off the video games and into nature.
Fly Fishing With a Passion
From nutrition to exercise to stress reduction, fishing offers you so many benefits for your physical and emotional health.
Not to mention, it’s super fun.
For more information on how fly fishing can add to your life in deep and meaningful ways, check us out today.
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