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).
YACHTING.COM TIP: Just as you wouldn't get behind the wheel in a car without a licence, you shouldn't pilot a sailboat without one. Not only are you endangering the crew and the boat, but you are also breaking the law, which might cost you dearly in the event of an accident. But don’t worry because getting a captain's licence is simple and a lot of fun. Check out our articles to find out how and which to choose — 5 reasons to take a skipper's course and International skipper's licences: which one is the best?.
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.
YACHTING.COM TIP: Has someone invited you to spend a sailing holiday with them? Congratulations! You are guaranteed an unforgettable experience. But what exactly should you expect from your first ever sailing trip? How should you prepare for it and conduct yourself on board so that you won't be the "rookie". Check out our tips and advice from experienced sailors — First time on a sailboat: 10 things you need to know before you depart.
But first, of course, you'll need a boat. So, how to book your first charter yacht and all it entails — from necessary documents, choosing a boat, to booking. Find out in our article, A step-by-step guide to renting your first boat.
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.
YACHTING.COM TIP: Getting seasick is not only a major worry for novice sailors, but also for holidaymakers on a boat trip and even experienced sailors. Those with darker humour say it has two phases — in the first phase you become so sick you're afraid you're dying, and in the second, you're afraid you're not going to. The important thing, though, is to understand why it happens and try to prevent it. Check out our article to find out — How to cope with seasickness.
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.
In addition, it trains your eyes to notice things at a distance. And even today, despite all the modern gadgets, the eye is crucial for sailors, find out more in On the lookout: how to judge distance at sea.
YACHTING.COM TIP: Spending the night in the safety of a marina is not always possible. So, what do you need to know about anchoring safely so you and your crew can get a sound night's sleep? — Complete guide to anchoring and moorings.