Rx: Go Fishing!
As a practicing Osteopath, Physiotherapist and Acupuncturist for 30 years, I have come to realize that there is a deep truth to the general conception that our mind and body are interconnected.Although my work is mostly based in structural anatomy and science I have learned that if the mind is not healthy the body cannot be.
I often use analogies to car mechanics in order to explain to my patients what is happening to them. In case of the mind body connection, the mind is the driver of the car, and no matter how well you maintain the car, if the driver abuses the car by flooring it all the time, it will wear out faster.
Stress can be seen as the throttle. The more stress the higher the throttle and the harder it is on the engine, or in our case, our body. We live in a society that is high in stress and low in stress reduction. The best stress reducer that our body has is physical activity. Our bodies were designed to go into physical activity after a stressor. The physical activity then reduces the stress related chemicals that were built up in our body. Without physical activity the stress chemicals remain much longer in our system. Prolonged high levels of those stress chemicals have been related to a wide range of illnesses.
The body also can reduce stress chemicals by changing the activity of the brain. Meditation can reduce stress chemicals to the point that our immune function improves. In our analogy with cars we can compare this to the driver being stressed and driving too fast (increased throttle/stress chemicals), or vise versa, the driver being relaxed (reduced throttle/stress chemicals).
So it is not surprising that in our increasingly stressful society we see an increase in health targeted practices that try to reduce stress; jogging, gym fitness, Yoga, meditation, Chi-Gong,Pilates, Tai-Chi, Zumba, water aerobics, etc.
Ever since I was a child I have been fascinated with fishing. As I grew older I realized that fishing has many key aspects that are helpful in stress reduction. Maybe this is why fishing is the biggest outdoor recreation activity in North America. There is something very relaxing about being in nature and rivers and lakes in particular. Fishing also tends to make the angler focus on an activity that is “in the moment” and allows for a meditation like introspectiveness. We can stand in the river and enjoy with all our senses the nature around us.
Many people think that fishing does not require much physical exercise. For some types of fishing that may be true, but for the fishing that I do it means going on hikes along the river,standing in the fast water and casting all day. After a day of fishing I always feel tired in a very healthy way.
So next time you are looking for an activity that is really good for your physical and mental health give fishing a go. It will allow you to escape your stressful daily routines and immerse yourself in a contemplative activity that restores you. Just ask your doctor for a prescription to“Go Fishing!”
Jacob (Jaap) Kalkman, DO(MP), BSc. PT, CAFCI, MCPA
Expert Fly Fisherman & Owner of Skeena River Fly Supply