Being Outdoors Builds Better Health
According to an article in Psychology Today, our brains need the outdoors. It’s in our makeup to want to be outdoors, immersed in the calming effect it brings to us. In today’s societal makeup, the ability to “unplug” is a rare gift – so rare there are entire vacation clubs dedicated to finding ways to unplug and get away. Nature is calming and gives us a chance to simply be.
When Heroes on the Water (HOW) first began kayak fishing experiences, we could see and feel first-hand the impact on our heroes. But we really didn’t know why or what was happening. Was it just the ability to unplug? Was there something to being in a kayak? Was it the fishing? Maybe it was just the camaraderie of the group setting. Perhaps, it was a little of all of them, and fortunately, we were able to find out.
Proof Kayak Fishing Helps
In 2022, Heroes on the Water utilized our Therapeutic Program participants to conduct our own study. This was an important step for the organization to understand the true impact of our modality. While there is plenty of research on how the outdoors is healing, and how various types of physical engagements help, the HOW team wanted to truly understand the level of impact our programs have on our participants.
We dubbed the study Operational Early Impact and used a peer-reviewed tool developed by the program’s Research Coordinator, Shelby Jackson, PhD. The initial results are positive, and we will continue the research in 2023 by implementing the study in our volunteer programs.
The primary objective of the study was to explore the impact of HOW therapeutic kayak fishing programs on service members regarding stress-management, relationships, and self-efficacy.
The overall findings were positive, providing that kayak fishing and the outdoors improves wellness and community for our heroes.
As you can see, it’s more than fishing – it’s a simple way to build healthier habits that have long-term positive impacts.
Let’s Go Kayak Fishing
It’s difficult for many to ask for assistance. Let’s be real – it’s difficult for anyone to think about going for therapy. There’s a stigma attached, whether we like it or not. Furthermore, many of our active-duty military members, veterans and first responders don’t feel comfortable asking for help. And if they do, often they are ostracized or criticized, sometimes even to the point of being asked to leave their jobs.
How much simpler, and less stressful, is it to reach out to someone and simply say, “Hey, let’s go kayak fishing.”? Providing the opportunity to improve mental and physical health while building a supportive community is important to the overall wellbeing of our heroes and their families.
The results speak for themselves – kayak fishing is proven to provide a healing experience while also creating a community of like-minded folks who understand the challenges faced – whether that is from military or first responder service.