While many of us consider sailing more of a hobby than a sport (that is, unless, you’re an America’s Cup contender!), its health benefits warrant a second look at this activity as an ideal way to supplement your fitness regimen while maintaining a sense of adventure this summer.
Being out on the water has a profound effect on both mind and body, and below are just a few of the potential positive side effects should you venture on your own voyage this season.
Muscle Strength & Endurance
Many sailing movements require great arm strength (constantly pulling and hoisting the sails in order to direct the boat or yacht), which helps to strengthen muscles of the back, shoulders and thighs.
Did you know that oxygen uptake during sailing can be even greater than when you play tennis or baseball? The more intense the activity, the better, which also reduces your risk of obesity, hypertension and heart disease.
Sense of Well-Being
Salty sea air is supposedly charged with ions that aid in oxygen absorption, which can help balance your levels of serotonin, a chemical produced by the body that is associated with mood.
The rhythmic movement of the boat combined with the sounds of lapping water and wind in the sails can influence brainwave patterns, providing a soothing environment that promotes a sense of relaxation.
Balance & Agility
Maneuver quickly around a rocking boat, and you’ll soon discover that a solid set of reflexes, center of balance and hand-eye coordination are a necessity, especially when tacking and gibing.
Focus & Concentration
With a singular goal of staying safe (i.e. not sinking) the crew’s ability to focus increases exponentially, which is an especially important skill for today’s chronic multi-taskers to maintain.
Both verbal and non-verbal communication is critical to the captain and crew being able to act as a cohesive unit to navigate, tack, or otherwise manipulate the boat through various scenarios.
Finally, sailing fosters great cooperation and teamwork because each person on board has the potential to make an important contribution toward keeping the vessel afloat and running smoothly in the correct direction.
“Learning to sail is just the beginning,” according to the American Sailing Association, the leading authority on sailing instruction and sailing schools in the U.S. (check out their list of sailing schools, by state, for a location near you).
The organization’s certified professionals are capable of teaching all levels of abilities, so there’s no excuse not to set sail – safely and with confidence – this summer!