Sailing is a great sport that's a lot of fun, but did you know it's great for your body and mind too? Find out why.
Strengthened muscles, improved fitness, better concentration... and last but not least, a sense of flow and joy. Not only is sailing great fun and relaxing, but it has many benefits for your body and mind. Let's break them down.
1. Strong muscles and improved balance
Sailing a smaller boat requires a wide range of physical skills just to get from point A to point B. Getting around the boat in bad weather means balancing like gymnasts. This improves your ability to balance and at the same time, you are strengthening your leg muscles, deep abdominal muscles and virtually the entire "core" of your body. Pulling the ropes and lifting the sails, which are essential for proper boat manoeuvring, in turn, strengthens your upper body. Plus, it trains your agility, endurance, fine motor skills, flexibility and hand-eye coordination.
2. Intense cardio
Sailing engages a variety of muscles, but it also gets your lungs in shape. Sailing is also a great cardio workout that increases your heart rate and improves blood flow. To ensure that your body gets enough oxygen, your lungs must work at maximum capacity... your fitness will improve, and your cardiovascular system will appreciate it. In fact, frequent cardio lowers the risk of hypertension, obesity, and other disorders. In the case of sailing, the benefits of this cardiac workout are further enhanced by the better quality of the air you breathe surrounded by the sea.
3. Better psyche
Simply being at the coast, away from your usual worries in itself is beneficial for the mind. But sailing combines moments of zen-like tranquillity with the need to concentrate fully. The mind becomes even more relaxed. The saltwater all around also supports this — the charged ions help the body absorb oxygen, which in turn balances serotonin levels (and the more balanced the serotonin levels in your body, the happier you will be).
4. Stronger bones
When exposed to sunlight, the body produces vitamin D, which is essential for our bones and helps calcium to be absorbed properly. The sun's influence is crucial, as up to 90 % of the vitamin D our bodies get comes from sunlight. On a boat, you can enjoy bathing in the sun almost all the time. But remember to apply a UV-factor cream to prevent skin damage, and wear a hat and sunglasses to minimise the risk of headaches and eye strain.
5. Improved concentration
To sail safely, you need to focus on the sailing. Be in the here and now. And that's something that our distracted souls, constantly battling multitasking and ubiquitous communication technologies, can do well. Sailing has an extremely positive effect on your mental state and your ability to concentrate. Plus, the fact that you have to operate apparatus, but at the same time read the wind, the waves... and possibly the tactics of competitors, develops quick decision-making skills.
6. Reduced stress levels
Unless you're prone to seasickness (and if you're not feeling under the weather), the rocking motion of the boat and the sound of waves lapping against the sides of the boat can create a real sense of calm. This can help reduce stress levels and calm your mind, which will also boost your body's defences.
7. Better spatial awareness and eyesight
Handling a boat requires a good understanding of the space you are in. You need to quickly estimate how much space the boat needs to manoeuvre without coming into contact with other vessels or objects. Especially when you are moored in a harbour. As a result, sailing helps improve spatial perception and depth perception, which is also useful for driving on land.