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Stress relieving benefits of being on the water

There are numerous reasons boating is such a popular way to spend leisure time. It’s fun and relaxing, you learn new skills, and you become part of a welcoming community, to name a few. But did you know boating has some fantastic health benefits, too?


Research shows that spending time near water gives us a powerful mental boost. You’ve likely heard about the importance of green spaces and nature’s impact on wellbeing, but studies also now show that blue spaces – water – are just as beneficial and provide the perfect all-around de-stressor.


This blog considers how boating can support good mental health and why it offers the ultimate way to de-stress.


Some facts about stress


According to the Stress Management Society, the constant barrage of information in today’s fast-paced world leaves many of us stressed out. A significant portion of the population faces stress every month, with an alarming percentage feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope.


Research by Indeed reveals another concerning trend: 52 percent of all workers are now battling burnout, marking a nine percent increase since before the pandemic.

Stress is everywhere. So, what can we do about it?


Stress Awareness Month 2024


Knowledge is power. Since 1992, Stress Awareness Month has been held every April to increase public awareness about stress, its causes, and cures. Learning more about the causes of stress and how to manage it is a great starting point.

Finding ways to de-stress


There are hundreds of different ways to de-stress. As individuals, we will gravitate towards some more than others. It is important to remember that some of the things we think are good ways to de-stress actually do the opposite.


A well-deserved glass of wine at the end of the day might seem like the perfect way to de-stress, but it’s having the opposite effect – alcohol works as both a stimulant and a depressant.


To embrace ways to de-stress, you must turn to research.


For example, regular exercise builds resilience to acute stress in healthy adults. Swimming in nature leads to improvements in mood and wellbeing and reductions in mental distress.

Participating in a hobby like boating offers many benefits, from being outdoors to getting exercise and being part of a community. But being on the water itself has other surprising benefits.


The therapeutic nature of water


The great outdoors has long been credited with positive health benefits. Take the Japanese practice of ‘shinrin-yoku,’ known in the West as forest bathing. Forest bathers have been found to have lower blood pressure, slower heart rates, and reduced levels of anxiety. Nature is a powerful healer.


Now, science is showing that being near water can add as many, if not more, benefits than getting close to nature on land. Evidence suggests that waterscapes benefit psychological and mental wellbeing. Blue spaces involve mindful presence, community, and much more.*


Evidence of water’s benefits dates back to ancient times. The Greeks sought natural springs and baths to restore the mind and body.


More recent research examined 33 studies of blue space interventions. The study found that ‘blue care’ can benefit health, especially mental and psycho-social wellbeing. It also found evidence of greater social connectedness during and after interventions.


*Blue space is primarily defined in academic literature to include all visible outdoor surface waters.


The health benefits of boating


A growing body of evidence shows how the world’s waterways can help promote and restore health. Here are some of the wonderful health benefits of boating.


Boosting your Vitamin D—Being outside some of the time is critical for health. Most of the body’s Vitamin D is made by sunlight. Vitamin D is vital to human function—it helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, which keeps bones, teeth, and muscles healthy. There’s no better place to get ample sunlight than being on the water.


A setting for relaxation – Whether boating on a lake, river, or calm sea, being on the water is incredibly relaxing and tranquil and provides a perfect way to escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.


A sense of awe – It isn’t easy to describe, but something about water imparts a sense of awe in us. There’s a sense of freedom at being part of something bigger than ourselves.


Mindfulness—Being on the water is incredibly calming. Its strange dynamic seems to help us enter a dream-like state. Slowing down and being more mindful is hugely important in our busy lives.


A change of perspective—Doing the same things day in and day out can keep us stuck in a stressful rut. Getting out on the water in a boat is the perfect way to break the monotony and reduce tension and stress. A short boat journey can give you a new perspective on your challenges. Many light bulb moments have occurred while boating.


Improves confidence – Starting a new hobby and learning new skills is a great way to build confidence and boost self-esteem.


The social side of boating—The boating community is renowned for providing a strong social network. Socialising with family and friends and meeting new people is one of the many positive benefits of boating. Friendships and a sense of community enrich life. People are, by nature, social creatures. Social connections are important and majorly impact our health and wellbeing.


Working out – While boating can be highly relaxing, there’s a physical aspect too, such as mooring and going through locks. Boating is a great way to add physical exercise to your routine, especially if you enjoy a dip and swim. Furthermore, sailing enthusiasts taking to coastal waters will be aware that manning a boat provides an excellent cardiovascular workout, especially when racing, or during windy conditions. In fact, if you’re sailing in a race you can burn up to 400 calories an hour, whilst also boosting your heart rate and stamina.

A Boating Case Study


Charlie Crompton purchased a new Interboat 19 from Val Wyatt in October 2021.


Charlie and his family are out on the river daily during the summer. They even take the kids to school on it. They love using the boat on long summer evenings to visit a riverside restaurant or pub.


“It’s great when friends come to stay, and we go out on the boat with all the kids jumping in the river and swimming. They can climb back in the boat on the swim ladder. We take a big picnic, which we have on the bank, or drop an anchor in the middle of the river.”


If there is one quote from Charlie that sums up his boating experiences so far, it’s this one: “It’s transformed our lives. My advice is don’t wait for another summer to pass without getting a boat.”


Read more about Charlie and his family’s boating experience in our Interboat 19 case study here.


Why Val Wyatt?


Val Wyatt is an independently owned marina with over 175 years of experience. Val Wyatt is trusted by industry-leading brands and hundreds of happy clients, whether experienced skippers or those just starting their boating journey. We are here to help you, from buying a boat and providing it with a home, to looking after it during your ownership and facilitating a sale when you’re ready.


Are you ready to enjoy the mental and physical benefits of being out on the water? If so, you can explore the range of boats we currently have available here.