If you think that going fishing is for old retired men you could not be more mistaken. This activity has been becoming more popular every day among millenials and even more among women! And there are many reasons for that...
Firstly, many of them are interested in the benefits that fishing brings to your health. From boosting your levels of vitamin D from being exposed to the sun to improving your balance while standing on a canoe when trying to catch a fish - angling requires some acrobatic maneuvers sometimes! - this hobby can bring all kinds of benefits and even help you get fit. Depending on the kind of fishing that is practiced, you can even improve cardiovascular health, and burn an average of 200 calories an hour which is equivalent to 40 minutes of walking.
Fly-fishing: the most popular technique among women
Fly-fishing is one of the techniques that burn calories the most and can help you keep yourself fit. This style of fishing will strengthen your balance, dexterity, and muscles, and keep your brain sharp. Since you're actually stalking the fish, you don't sit on a boat or dock and wait, but rather you move around, be it wading through a stream for trout or walking along the beach searching for striped bass. The act of casting during fly-fishing can also be very beneficial for people with a range of motion issues since it improves your agility to be able to cast the line.
This explains why it has also been used in a surprising way to bring women together to fight cancer. The non-profit organization Cast for Recovery, for example, aims to improve the quality of life of women with breast cancer through a program that combines education on this kind of cancer and support with the therapeutic sport of fly-fishing. The retreats organized by the NGO are an opportunity for women to improve their health, exchange information, and have fun while fishing.
Fishing as a way to fight cancer
Sue Shaw, coordinator for Cast for Recovery, mentions the joy of being a part of the program: "It is truly an honor to be able to provide such brave women with the opportunity be to able to learn how to fly-fish. We hope that more people become aware of the wonderful benefits that fishing offers. We love to promote fishing and hope to see more women enjoying the sport." According to her, all the ladies that attend their retreats talk about how therapeutic and relaxing fly-fishing is for them.
The benefits of the program are two-fold: The gentle, rhythmic motion of fly casting is similar to exercises that are very often prescribed for those who undergo surgery or radiation since they promote soft tissue stretching. At the same time, such opportunity of getting to practice a new activity in a safe environment among peers can help coping with the stress of the diagnosis.
The proof of the success of the program is the feedback from the attendees. Many describe it as being not only a great opportunity to talk with others who have a similar experience and are in the same boat as them, but also an important moment of accomplishment and empowerment: "Before I arrived at Kimbridge I was not sure what to expect and to be honest the fishing part scared me a little. Now I must admit I am being truthful in telling you that I think it has been one of the most amazing time in my life.", confesses one of the participants.
Another attendee says that she would never have believed that she would have been able to catch anything. "The sense of achievement I experienced was sensational.", she describes when remembering the moment of finally catching the first fish.
Women: fly fishing fastest growing demographic
Doubtlessly, women are the fastest growing demographic when it comes to the fly-fishing method and this growth goes way beyond the retreats of Casting for Recover. According to a study done by the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation, women are 46% of the new fishing participants in America. Jess McGlothlin, who is a photographer and writer, is part of this new profile of anglers. When talking about how this sport has made an impact on her, she emphases how it is not a mere hobby, but a true passion:
"Fly-fishing has provided opportunities I would never have had elsewhere. As a fishing photographer and writer, I've been fortunate enough to travel to incredible places and work with some of the best anglers and teams on the planet. Angling is a language that translates, no matter the fishery, the species or the people involved. It is a common passion and that is quite powerful."
Fishing as a sense of well-being
Other than the passion itself, many people describe a sense of well-being or even a meditative state while fishing. Some researchers have been studying the influence that connecting with nature can have on our minds and bodies. A review, recently published in the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health and which includes 35 studies in total, highlights that the scientific evidence so far indicates that physical activity levels increase when people spend time near blue spaces such as fountains, lakes, rivers or seas. The report also reaffirms the benefits of being close to water for mental health, especially for stress reduction, and self-perceived well-being.
Certainly, there are many reasons to go fishing and everyone should enjoy its benefits. For way too long, this fascinating sport has been dominated by men, but women have discovered the joy of fishing, and it seems like they have arrived to stay and are not going anywhere anytime soon.
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