Sailing is fantastic exercise and being out in the open air and taking in deep lungfulls of fresh air is such great therapy, not only for our physical selves but our mental wellbeing as well.
Learning to sail doesn’t have to be expensive with the RYA offering classes and boat hire at affordable rates all across Great Britain and their clubs offer something for everyone regardless of age or ability. So if you are looking to get fitter and find and activity that helps you shed the pounds even more quickly then sailing might be right for you.
The positive effects of being out on the open water have long been known and the father of modern medicine Hippocrates was one to extol its virtues. In more recent times, the Victorians made bathing in the sea popular as it was seen as a vital tonic for health and wellbeing. At the same time, salt water spas were opening all over Austria and Germany as people began to reap the benefits of boosting the immune system and fighting off diseases with help of natural sea salt, fresh air and often very cold water! Indeed for many years bathing in cold water has been seen as an effective way to lose weight as research demonstrates that being immersed in cold water reduces cholesterol and helps to regulate fat stores.
So all this comes in handy when sailing around the coast of GB which can often be a windy, choppy experience at the best of times. In many respects sailing offers a great form of exercise as you never really know what to expect next and can spend a great number of hours hauling up sails, taking them down again, tacking and dropping and pulling up the fenders. Although many of these activities are mechanised now on modern boats there are still a great deal of activities that need sheer brute force and elbow grease, all of which help to melt away the pounds effortlessly!
Mentally sailing offers the ideal getaway from any problems or concerns that may be dogging you in ‘real’ life, albeit for a few hours at least… Its impossible to worry about much when you are totally focused on your charts and safe passage. In many respects this can represent being in the flow state, a place that we go to when we are almost fully absorbed with the activity at hand. Flow is a great place to be, its when we look at the clock and think ‘where did all the time go?’ because we were fully absorbed in what we were doing. With sailing, this happens easily and can offer a complete respite from day to day chores and the mundane aspects of daily life. So not only are you benefitting from a super workout but your overactive mind is also having a break, even if its just distraction, the lasting benefits can be wonderfully restorative. Its not easy to text in choppy water or to stay glued to your iPad. Even if its a calm day, sailing demands your total concentration, whether that be on the boat itself, or the often stunning nature that surrounds you when on the water.
Whether you decide to take on a 70ft sailing boat or just muck about in a rowing boat, have a look into sailing as its no longer the elitist sport than many still think of. You also don’t have to live by the coast, in-land waterways abound in Britain and there are lots of ways to get onto the water from learning to windsurf to kayaking and upright paddle boarding Give it a go, you might just wonder why you didn’t try it years ago…