Fly Life Magazine

You can fly fish yourself to better mental health

Fly fishing, it turns out, is your connection to better mental health

All pro-Alan Faneca Steeler Tackle. Steeler Depot image.

There is a group of retired MLB, NFL, and WTA players who meet regularly in South Florida with a facilitator to discuss issues of addiction and matters of a psychological nature that are unique to the exceptionalism of having been a professional athlete. Here is what was discovered:

     Over the course of many weeks, one thread of a most unusual kind seemed to poke through.. as common. Feelings of good mental health, aside from the fellowship of a suggested path to recovery, were sparked by outdoor activity. Think fly fishing Casting For Recovery and Wounded Warriors.

It’s true – according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conversation, studies have shown that simply being outdoors can help boost your immune system, lower blood pressure, help reduce stress and improve your mood, increase your ability to focus (even in children with ADHD), accelerate recovery after a surgery or illness, increase energy levels and help improve sleep!

Wow. We all need some of that! Here are a few ways to help us stay away from the doc

1. Fresh air can help fight off disease… fly fishing

When we breathe in a nice huge breath of fresh air, we breathe in what’s known as “phytoncides,“ which are airborne chemicals that plants give off to help protect themselves from insects.

These chemicals have antibacterial and antifungal qualities that also help plants fight disease. When humans breathe in these chemicals, our bodies respond by increasing the activity of a type of white blood cell called a natural killer cell, which helps kill another tumor – and virus-infected cells in our bodies. Japanese researchers are currently looking into whether or not exposure to forests can even help prevent certain types of cancer!

2. Spending time in nature can help you focus… fly fishing

Between work, school and family life, our hectic minds can become fried pretty quickly. If you’re feeling mentally drained, spending time in nature or even just looking at plants, birds, water or other elements of nature can help renew your patience and give your brain the break it truly needs.

3. Being out of doors improves your mood… fly fishing

Fly fishing can physically improve your mood by “evening out” the melatonin levels in your brain (which can make you feel tired or depressed).

4. Treadmill? Not really

Some people swear by the treadmill. Others can’t wait for the warm weather and the opportunities for outdoor exercise that come with it. But while you might think it comes down to personal preference, there’s a small body of research that suggests outdoor exercise might have even more health benefits than a trip to the gym.

A recent Scottish Health Survey, found that outdoor physical activity had a 50 percent greater positive effect on mental health than going to the gym. The researchers found that walking, running, biking, fly fishing and other outdoor activities through green space lowered stress.

Researcher Richard Mitchell said that while the results themselves aren’t surprising, the extent to which outdoor exercise beats out indoor activity is. Saying: “I wasn’t surprised by the findings that exercise in natural environments is good for your mental health, but I was surprised by just how much better it is for your mental health to exercise in a green place like a forest than in other places like the gym,” he said. “The message to doctors, planners and policy makers is that these places need protecting and promoting.”

NOTE: Featured Image is man fly fishing the Cache la Poudre River in Colorado. Fort Collins Chamber image.

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