In a study from Anglia Ruskin University, scientists found that recreational fishing could help people suffering from serious mental health problems.
They surveyed approximately 1,900 UK adults online.
The team found people who participated in recreational fishing much fewer stated that they suffered from anxiety disorder (16.5% versus 26.4%), had attempted suicide (7.5% versus 13.2%), and engaged in deliberate self-harm (10.4% versus 20.6%) compared to those who do not fish.
The main motivators for fishing were the challenge of fishing and to relax, with no difference in motivators for fishing being shown among anglers with disabilities compared to anglers without disabilities.
Results from a separate study also found that fishing participation is similar between anglers with disabilities and anglers without disabilities.
This suggests the pastime is relatively accessible. However, barriers such as costs, lack of transport, or lack of companions to fish with were more commonly reported by people with disabilities.
Recreational fishing is very popular in the UK, with about 2 million people taking part in the pastime in 2019.
Previous studies showed that exposure to aquatic environments, known as blue spaces, is associated with improved mental health and well-being.
The work highlighted that individuals who fish have lower levels of diagnosed anxiety disorder, suicide attempts, and instances of deliberate self-harm compared to those who did not fish.
This would suggest that encouraging participation in fishing could be a good dual-method strategy for both promoting relaxation and good mental health as well as encouraging increased levels of physical activity among those with mental health issues such as anxiety disorder.
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The study was conducted by Rosie K. Lindsay et al and published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
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