Health Benefits of Fishing: Surprising Physical & Mental Benefits

William Adams
 min read

The various health benefits of fishing are well documented.

Health benefits of fishing: Surprising physical & mental benefitsMedia outlets regularly report that Americans do not exercise enough, which poses health risks. Sedentary behavior leads to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and depression.

Fishing is generally perceived as an enjoyable and social form of exercise. The average number of calories burned in an hour of angling can match hiking, and could significantly reduce anxiety, depression, and other mental issues. Hyperactive children are also known to be calmer when fishing.

Sportfishing appears to be a good remedy and is often recommended as a hobby by doctors.

While many anglers have known this for ages, the medical and academic communities have also become increasingly convinced that fishing is healthy for humans.

Read on to understand why fishing is a healthy pastime.

Health benefits of fishing: Introduction

Several studies have shown that angling is generally perceived as an enjoyable and social form of exercise.

Sportfishermen, for example, are able to continue their activity for longer than is the case in other sports. In addition, it is also an engaging activity for young and old.

Burning calories by fishing

Physical exertion in angling can vary greatly. But the average number of calories an angler can burn in an hour of fishing has been found to match hiking.

Then combine this with the peace and relaxation that fishing brings, and we can conclude that angling provides both physical and mental health benefits.

Fishing as therapy

For children with behavioral or cognitive disorders

Rest and relaxation are vital for specific groups of people, such as young people with behavioral or cognitive disorders.

Practical experience (and scientific studies) show that fishing discourages antisocial behavior and promotes the formation of friendships outside of school.

In addition, while fishing, hyperactive children appear to be able to sit quietly along the water and concentrate for long periods.

For adults with post-traumatic stress

Several scientific studies also suggest that angling can be used as a therapy to reduce the symptoms of post-traumatic stress as it could significantly reduce anxiety, depression, and somatic stress symptoms.

Overseas, especially in Australia, specialized organizations offer sportfishing as therapy for war veterans.

Tip: Check our other post to learn how fishing can help treat post-traumatic stress disorder: Fishing for PTSD: Therapeutic effects of fishing for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

For rehabilitating adults

Another form of rehabilitation using angling is offered by organizations such as the North American Casting for Recovery.

This organization offers a specific form of angling (fly fishing) to aid recovery in women who have undergone breast cancer surgery or radiation treatment.

The rest, relaxation, and gentle, rhythmic movement of the arms contribute to their recovery process.

Benefits of an outdoor sport such as fishing

Part of the health benefits of angling comes from the fact that sportfishing is an outdoor sport.

Numerous scientific studies at home and abroad investigated the impact of activities in nature on our health and quality of life.

More self-confidence and a better mood

A study from the University of Essex found that physical activities in a green environment contributed to increased self-confidence and improved mood, compared to those same physical activities in an urban setting.

The positive effect of exposure to nature is even stronger if there is water nearby.

Researchers suspect these positive effects result from focusing on an external, pleasant, and green environment.

This would lead to the perception of exertion and any negative emotions becoming less intense, resulting in more enjoyable physical activity.

Less stress

Even simply spending more time in open green spaces in urban areas, such as a park, was found in a Swedish study to result in less stress, regardless of gender, age, and socioeconomic status.

Prevention tool for depression

Another study examined people who walked around for 1.5 hours.

Fifty percent of the participants went for a walk in a natural area. The other 50% of the participants went for a walk in a busy urban environment.

The researchers found that the group that walked around the nature reserve showed reduced activity in parts of the prefrontal cortex associated with depression.

Up to 7 percent of cases of depression could be prevented if every urban resident spent 30 minutes or more at least once a week in an area with lots of nature or urban green space.

Effect of nature

Much of the research mentioned above does not really answer how it is that nature has such a beneficial effect on the human body and mind.

It has been suggested that some positive effects can be explained by the fractal properties of nature.

This refers to detailed, complex geometric figures constructed from repeating elements corresponding to a basic figure at each level. In nature, we see them everywhere, from flowers, plants, ferns, and trees to networks of rivers and streams.

In humans, there seems to be a preference for fractal images. After all, during evolution, humans have lived for the most part in nature rather than in a built-up, highly-developed, and urbanized environment.

Images and shapes that satisfy these characteristics are found frequently in nature and usually make us feel good and relaxed.

According to some researchers, our visual system is designed to correctly interpret these fractal images.

If the image becomes too complex and crowded, we cannot oversee and interpret everything at once. For example, in a city where you are surrounded by buildings, concrete, cars, buses, streetcars, mopeds, cyclists, and pedestrians.

This then leads to some unconscious discomfort.

Fishing is also ideal for the disabled

To experience the positive effects of outdoor sports, a person does not have to be fully mobile.

Unlike many other outdoor sports such as jogging, biking, or hiking, sportfishing is very accessible. This makes it possible for even physically challenged people to spend time along the waterfront.

Because angling is one of the few activities that still offers people with physical disabilities numerous outdoor recreational opportunities, several organizations can be found that specifically cater to angling for the disabled.

A German study revealed that disabled fishermen build improved social relationships and higher self-esteem by fishing outdoors.

Accessible for both young and old

Children are playing outside less and less, with unpleasant consequences such as being overweight and obese.

Angling offers them various opportunities to go on adventures together, discover nature, enjoy it, and experience the thrill of catching a fish. Often this can be done near the place of residence and the family home.

Sportfishing also offers adults and the elderly opportunities to come out of social isolation.

Going out to enjoy a few hours together on the waterfront is the perfect hobby for seniors to keep busy and spend time in nature.

Health benefits of fishing: Conclusion

Beyond the positive effects mentioned above, fishing truly offers everyone (young, old, male, female) the opportunity to go on an adventure alone or together, feel completely free, discover nature, and experience the thrill of catching a fish.

In doing so, angling promotes friendships and counteracts antisocial behavior. Hyperactive children can also better concentrate for long periods while fishing.

The nice thing about angling is that it can often be done close to home and doesn’t have to cost a lot of time or money.

So grab your chance to take a rod to the waterfront for some much-needed relaxation and do yourself, your mind, body, and your doctor a favor.

Tip: If you’re thinking of taking up fishing as a beginner, be sure to check our other post Fishing for beginners: What type of fishing is best & what to buy?

About William Adams

I’m an engineer and a happy plus-size individual myself. I love to blog online if I can have a positive impact on the lives of others. I help other plus-size people with in-depth product guides to make shopping for products and services less stressful in their busy lives. Read More