Thu. Dec 7th, 2023
Health benefits of fishing - Parks Blog

Fishing is an iconic Canadian pastime. There’s nothing like spending the day by the water with your friends and family, casting a line, and enjoying the outdoors.

But did you know that you can get more than just a great catch in a day of fishing? Fishing really has physical and mental health benefits.

Below are some ways fishing can improve your overall well-being.

Benefits for your mental health

Fishing requires a lot of concentration and awareness. This takes your mind away from internal conflicts and stress, similar to meditation. As a result, it helps reduce anxiety, combat depression, and promote relaxation.

Man and boy thrown into lake while submerged in water

Studies have shown that fishing reduces levels of cortisol (also known as the stress hormone).

This positive effect can last up to three weeks after a fishing trip. Fishing has even been used to help people who have suffered trauma or suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

fishing at sunset

Fishing is never an exact science.

The bait that caught you the day before may be completely ineffective the next. Changing bait, finding new places to fish, and troubleshooting fishing rod problems may seem like simple problems.

However, all these challenges are helping you develop analytical and problem-solving skills, improving your cognitive function and creative thinking.

Benefits for your physical health

Fishing is a more intense exercise than you think!

By the time you cast your line, walk through streams, walk to a new fishing spot and catch fish, you’ve gotten plenty of cardio!

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This low-impact exercise engages the shoulders, back, trunk, arms and legs, improving balance and working muscles.

Man and daughter smile at camera with fishing rods on pier

While fishing, you will have the opportunity to sunbathe. Vitamin D from the sun improves your immune system and promotes cell growth, helping to fight illnesses and diseases. It’s also a great mood booster!

Fancy a lunch on the coast? Eating your catch is good for you too! Fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which reduces the risk of stroke and lowers blood pressure. There has also been evidence that eating fish can help your eyesight and decrease the risk of asthma.

Lunch ashore in front of the cabin.

Review the Ontario Fish Eating Guide to identify the types and amounts of fish that are safe to eat.

Benefits for children

Fishing is also good for your little ones.

Instructor shows fish to two children by the lake

Chances are, the first cast you send into the water won’t catch any fish. Fishing teaches patience, as children learn to wait for a bite and stay calm when they lose a fish. Even just being outdoors has been shown to reduce ADHD symptoms.

Boy fishing in Darlington

Fishing requires a lot of skill. The fishing line is thin and tangles easily. Placing worms on hooks requires special care, and a successful cast depends on fairly precise timing. These small tasks help develop children’s fine motor skills. Learning something new is also great for developing cognitive function!

In a digital world, both children and adults are constantly exposed to screens and technology. Going fishing gets everyone away from their digital devices and promotes appreciation of the natural environment. Being near water has even been shown to make people feel calmer and more creative.

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Clearly fishing is a great activity to improve your health.

New to fishing?

Consider planning a trip during one of the four license-free family free fishing periods in Ontario.

You can also take the free two-hour Learn to Fish program at various locations (including several provincial parks!) in southern Ontario. To find program locations and times, visit: