When we take part in something we enjoy, otherwise known as a hobby, feel-good chemicals like dopamine are released in the brain. With a hobby potentially able to prevent depression for some, there’s no question that having one can be great for mental health. However, for those that take part in a hobby like boating, many may not be aware of the many health benefits that are involved with the activity. Whether you’re new to boating or you’re a seasoned sailor, here are a few key ways you can benefit both physically and psychologically from boating.

A relaxing setting

Whether you prefer the river, lake, or ocean, there’s no doubt that boating is a relaxing activity that presents the perfect way to escape the everyday stressors of life while allowing you to unplug from electronics and soak up some vitamin D3, too. However, many may not realize that the setting alone can be especially beneficial to your mental health. In fact, research shows that people living by the shoreline of the ocean, river, or lake are actually up to 22% less likely to experience the effects of both anxiety and depression in their lives when compared to those who live inland, according to one report by the Exeter Medical School in the UK.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that the mere sight and sound of water can promote wellness by lowering the stress hormone known as cortisol, while increasing feel-good hormones like serotonin, according to Dr. Wallace Nichols, an award winning marine biologist. However, aside from the benefits of a tranquil, nature-filled setting that boating can bring, those who get out on the water may also experience benefits in regards to additional mental health issues as well. For instance, boating promotes physiological and psychological benefits that can help manage issues like trauma, grief, anxiety, sleep, and more, highlighting just how beneficial boating can really be.

Sailing as a workout?

For those that enjoy sailing, there’s much more than a mental health boost involved when getting out on the water, as the activity can also offer a range of physical health benefits. Due to its nature, sailing allows for the ability to build muscle strength and endurance through activities like pulling/hoisting sails, and can increase hand-eye coordination through activities like pulling lines, and even when it comes to simply keeping yourself stable when on board. With flexibility, balance, and agility all additional skills needed to sail successfully, there’s no question that you’ll be getting a good workout along the way with this hobby in particular.

The social benefits involved

Aside from the physical workout and mental health benefits that one can reap from boating or sailing, another unique benefit that the activity can bring to the table is socialization. Because having a strong social support network is essential to build you up during times of stress and give you the strength to move forward, getting family and friends together for an afternoon of boating can be a great way to get together and have a positive experience out on the water. The community of boaters and sailors can also play a major role in staying socialized, with online or local groups being excellent ways to find like minded people to talk with and build new relationships. 

While boating or sailing can be seen as an enjoyable summer hobby, it can be quite easy to overlook the many benefits involved. From reducing stress to aiding in staying social, not to mention the workout that you can get that contributes to your physical health, there’s no doubt that boating can be healthy in more ways than one.

By Jess Walter

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