While the sea air has historically been prescribed as a bringer of health, how healthy is sailing itself? As an activity that not only takes place in the open air, but also has very specific physical demands, sailing has many benefits. Then there’s the sense of community, collaboration required to sail as a group. These things all improve our physical, mental and social health. Whether you’re a keen sailor, or interested in learning more about the sport, there are great benefits to remember.
Sea water itself is known to be restorative. The high levels of salt and potassium in sea water are great for encouraging healing to skin. Some reports even suggest that sea water boosts the immune system. What about that old adage ‘sea air’ though? Well, the air at coastal areas is thought to have increased negative ions. This is thought to boost the body’s ability to absorb oxygen and balance serotonin levels. So it looks like the ancients got it right after all!
Whether you’re at sea or not, being out of doors has a reliably positive effect on mental health. Sailing is no different. Operating a boat, though, has a further reaching impact on mental health. Sailing is a complex activity that requires focus, attention and planning. These are all great things for stimulating our brains. The ocean itself has calming properties. Look at the movement of the water; it’s reflective, meditative, and glistening. The sounds of the sea are calming and natural. People choose to play sounds of the ocean as a mental health aid. So imagine how much more healing they are in the flesh!
Yes, bathing in sea water might be a great skin detox. But we’re talking about the opportunity for a life detox that sailing offers. Getting out onto the open ocean is the perfect opportunity to remove all the pressures of daily life and online connectivity to exist more simply for a period of time. For the duration of a sailing trip, don’t think about social media, work, or all of those mundane tasks that build up for all of us.
Being on the boat requires a certain level of physical fitness. How much working out that you do off the boat is entirely down to you. However, by the time you finish a sailing trip you’ll certainly feel like you’ve worked your muscles! Simply walking around the deck requires you to engage different leg and core muscles than you use day to day. Your physical sense of balance will be improved by ‘finding your sea legs’ as much as you sense of mental balance!
Strength and Agility
We mustn’t forget the muscle strength that you build by operating the boat. There’s lots of pulling and hoisting. This is a workout for your shoulders, arms and back. You’ll increase your oxygen consumption in the process, which will ultimately increase your cardiovascular health. Operational tasks on the boat involve a certain level of agility and dexterity. So your hand-eye coordination and motor skills will all benefit.
Perhaps you’re embarking on a trip with friends or family who form a crew. Or you might be spending some time docked in a marina. In both cases, you’re surrounded by a like minded community. Working as a crew means operating as a unit, which requires constant communication. Both verbal and physical communication is so important in sailing, so you’ll feel more connected with the humans around you. Then there’s anchoring up and relaxing on the soft seating with a bottle of wine. Another activity that’s good for the soul!
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