Casting a line could reel in a lot more than the catch of the day. A recent study has shown that men who enjoy fishing as a hobby may have better mental health.
The study, conducted by researchers at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, Ulster University, and Queen’s University, Belfast, found that fishing on a regular basis contributed to a lower risk of depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and other mental health conditions.
Researchers polled 1,752 males about their fishing activities, as well as other factors including previous mental illness, exercise and overall well-being.
The participants who said they fished on a regular basis were nearly 17% less likely to have experienced mental health conditions compared to men who did not fish frequently.
The more often the men fished, the better their mental health, according to the study, which was published in the journal epidemiologia this summer.
"Encouraging frequent participation in recreational angling could be a dual method strategy for promoting relaxation and positive mental health, as well as encouraging increased levels of physical activity in those with mental health issues," the study authors wrote. (iStock)
"In general, the findings suggest that encouraging frequent participation in recreational angling could be a dual method strategy for promoting relaxation and positive mental health, as well as encouraging increased levels of physical activity in those with mental health issues," the study's authors wrote in the journal summary.
While it’s been well-established that fishing has positive benefits for mental health, the new research also highlights that people who engage in the hobby more often yield greater cognitive benefits, noted Dr. Mike Trott, one of the study researchers from the Centre for Mental Health Research at the University of Queensland.
The team was somewhat surprised by the findings, Trott told Fox News Digital.
The new research highlights that people who engage in the hobby more often enjoy greater cognitive benefits. (iStock)
"We were expecting to find that angling in general has positive effects on mental health — however, we did not expect that the more often you fish, the better the benefits are."
The study did have some limitations, Trott said.
"One key limitation is that our sample included only men, so it is hard to make our findings generalizable across genders, despite our very large sample size," he noted.
In light of the research, Trott said fishing can be considered a "mindfulness activity," and he recommends taking up the sport as often as possible to reap the potential mental health benefits.
"If fishing just isn’t your thing, you can try other activities that promote mindfulness, like yoga, thai chi or even coloring."
"We also suggest recommended recreational angling to friends or family as a means of improving mental health," he added.
"But if fishing just isn’t your thing, you can try other activities that promote mindfulness, like yoga, thai chi or even coloring," he said.
A nonprofit organization called Fishing for the Mission 22 uses fishing programs in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, as a mode of therapy for military vets, as Fox News Digital previously reported. (Fishing with the Mission 22)
Drew Ramsey, M.D., a psychiatrist and an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, was not involved in the study but was encouraged by the findings.
"It is great to see male mental health getting more attention, with the recognition that some traditional male activities, like hunting, fishing and time in the outdoors, are wonderful for mental health," Ramsey told Fox News Digital.
Fishing demands certain important attributes, he noted — including organization, specialized knowledge, coordination with others and a tolerance of frustration.
"It is also important to note that fishing is correlated with one of the major contributors to the male mental health epidemic: excessive alcohol consumption," Ramsey added.
"You probably need to fish fairly sober to get these benefits."
Melissa Rudy is health editor and a member of the lifestyle team at Fox News Digital.