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Just how Healthy is Angling?

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It is not the most energetic of pastimes now, is it? It is not the most energetic of pastimes now, is it?

Let’s face it, an hour’s fishing is not as healthy for you as an hour’s jogging or an hour in the gym...or is it? New research by Graham Cobden sheds light on the physical demands of our sport.

 

 

 

 

 


We are delighted to be able to produce Graham’s research here in full:

 

Over the course of the last decade, there has been growing public sector concern about the levels of physical and mental health of individuals living in the UK (Stolk, 2010). Both anecdotal evidence and data collected from numerous projects indicates that angling is well positioned to contribute to personal health and well-being in a number of ways including; recovery from ill health, a means of reducing stress and being an outlet for physical activity (Stolk, 2010).


However there are conflicting views regarding how much physical activity is involved in angling. Whilst policymakers and the wider public generally perceive angling as an inactive, non-strenuous activity, angling participants speak of the considerable effort involved in, for example, carrying heavy fishing tackle across uneven ground, the muscular endurance required to cast continuously or hold a pole, or the physical fatigue caused by long periods of concentrations (Stolk, 2012).


If meaningful claims are to be made about the relationship between angling participation and physical activity, empirical studies are needed to provide data on the physical demands during different forms of angling. Consequently, the aim of this study was analyse the heart rate demands, hydration status and temperature of five elite English shore anglers in training prior to the 2013 shore angling World Championships.


These training sessions took place on the beaches of Domburg, Holland two weeks prior to the World Championships. The length of each angling session ranged from between 5 and 7 hours in duration, and for each session, each angler was fitted with a heart rate monitor that recorded heart rate data for the duration of each angling session. To measure hydration levels, a urine sample was collected from each angler on three separate occasions each day; in the morning, prior to the angling session and after the angling session had finished. Each urine sample was tested with a portable osmometer as soon as possible after the sample had been collected. Body temperature was measured using a tympanic thermometer which was placed in the ear at hourly intervals during the angling session.


Key Observations

The average time spent angling was 391 ± 8 minutes per day, comprising 30 ± 2 minutes walking to the angling venue, 28 ± 6 minutes walking from the angling venue and 343 ± 15 minutes angling.  Overall the average heart rate was 106 ± 11 beats per minute that equated to 60 ± 11% of predicted maximum heart rate (figure 1).

Figure 1: Average heart rate values (% max) for angling sessions.
The largest proportion of angling time, on average, was spent in the 0-59% heart rate range. However approximately 64% of angling time was spent above 60% heart rate max (figure 2). There are large variations in standard deviation which indicate that there are differences in physical activity levels between individual anglers taking part in the same angling discipline.

 

 

Figure 2: Percentage of time spent in heart rate zones 1-5 for the angling group. Zone 1 = 0-59% HRmax, Zone 2 – 60-69% HRmax etc.


Time period analysis (figures 3 and 4) revealed that the ‘end’ period of the angling session was significantly more intense than hours 1 to 5 during the angling session. The main peaks in % heart rate max were found in the period travelling to and, in particular, from the angling location (signified by the blue lines in figure 4). The periods of time travelling to and from the angling location made up a small percentage of angling time but produced notably higher intensity levels than any other time periods. Stolk (2010) previously stated that carrying heavy fishing equipment across uneven ground was one of the main arguments against the perception of angling being an inactive, non-strenuous activity.


Figure 3: Average heart rate values (% maximum) per hour of angling session.

 

Figure 4: Five minute average % heart rate maximum trace for angling group

 

The average hydration values for the angling group were measured at three periods during the day; morning, pre angling session and post angling session. The average values for the angling group in these periods were 841 ± 174, 838 ± 172 and 706 ± 280 mOsm/kg respectively (figure 5). A good level of hydration occurs between 0 - 600 mOsm/kg and dehydration occurs over 1000 mOsm/kg.


What this result shows is that at no point were the anglers optimally hydrated (below 600 mOsm/kg). Research has shown that significant decreases in mental and physical performance occurred at dehydration levels of 2% of body weight or more. Mental performance can be reduced by dehydration at rest and during exercise and dehydration has also been shown to negatively affect visual motor skills and mood. Because angling can last over a number of hours and for consecutive days in competitive environments, it is important that anglers are optimally hydrated before commencing angling and that plenty of fluid is consumed during an angling session.

 

 

Figure 5: Average hydration status values for the angling group


Body temperature was measured by using a tympanic thermometer which was placed in the ear on hourly intervals to record temperature changes. Mean environmental temperature was 17 ± 2.3°c with a mean humidity of 74.3 ± 9.3%. Tympanic temperature peaked, on average, 3 hours into the angling session at 35.4°c.


The mean tympanic temperature over the angling sessions was 35.0 ± 1.3°c. The normal core body temperature of a healthy, resting adult human being is stated to be 37.0°c. As angling can last for a number of hours in variable weather conditions, the results show that it is important to wear the correct clothing to ensure that body temperature does not significantly decrease.

 

Figure 6: Average group tympanic temperature values per hour of angling session

 


Key points

• Overall the mean heart rate was 106 ± 11 beats per minute that equated to 60 ± 11% of predicted maximum heart rate.

• Approximately 64% of angling time was spent above 60% predicted maximum heart rate. Using the heart rate classification based upon the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines, this suggests that the majority of shore angling time can be classified as ‘moderate’ intensity and higher (American College of Sports Medicine, 2000).

• Further inspection revealed that 28.9% of angling time on average was spent above 70% HRmax, which is classified as ‘hard’ intensity.

• The mean time spent angling was 391 ± 8 minutes which relates to the conclusion by Pretty et al (2007) that due to anglings often lengthy duration, the total energy use per session would be greater than in the majority of other activities.

• The average hydration values for the angling group were 841 ± 174 in the morning, 838 ± 172 pre session and 706 ± 280 post session. Optimal hydration is between 0 – 600 mOsm/kg. Because angling is a sport where concentration levels have to be maintained for a number of hours, potentially over a number of consecutive days, the importance of hydration levels should not be overlooked.

• Tympanic temperature peaked, on average, 3 hours into the angling session at 35.4°c. The mean tympanic temperature over the angling sessions was 35.0 ± 1.3°c. The normal core body temperature of a healthy, resting adult human being is stated to be 37.0°c.


Stolk, P. (2010). Angling and personal health & well being, angling participation research theme paper 2.

Stolk, P. (2012). Angling and physical activity research theme paper 3


All rights reserved

Copyright © 2012. Graham Cobden

 







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Comments (8 posted):

Chris Hammond ( RSPB ACA PAC} on 08/03/2013 12:24:30
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Speaking as someone who in a past life often spent the hours employed in angling (between fish) chain smoking fags and interspersing that with the consumption of just about the junkiest food available at the garage shop whilst sat firmly on my backside -not very. For every angler that treks a distance with all the kit or stays on his feet casting lures throughout the day there are probably ten who sit on their bums all day smoking or eating. A quick scan through the major angling publications and a look at their major contributors tells you all you need to know. :) Is angling healthy? Not often I wouldn't imagine. Even the stiffest physical tasks involved in the sport amount to little more than sedate excercise.
pcpaulh on 08/03/2013 12:50:22
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When it comes to mental health I'm sure benefits are much harder to measure although fishing must have a significant impact on many peoples well being. If I'm ever feeling slightly un easy or stressed being in the outdoors has helped no end. There's a study somewhere to do with mental health and time spent in forested areas, those who spend 1hr a week in a forest as opposed to those who don't. It has positive results that I'm sure would be very similar for angling. If I was intent on doing some 'proper' excercise I would definately think to look elsewhere than fishing, although do sometimes do a reasonable amount of walking with as much as can be carried.
gsc265 on 08/03/2013 14:31:42
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This research is a very first look into the physical activity levels seen in angling participation. From this research, nobody is suggesting that angling is as physically demanding as football or rugby, however what this research is suggesting is that shore angling has the potential to provide physical health benefits by increasing heart rate to a moderate to high level for a lengthy period of time. The only previous research into this area found that by analysing the heart rate of a game angler, the average heart rate in terms of his % maximum was 54.5% so there is a need for research into individual angling disciplines so that angling is not generalised as one form which would be incorrect. There are numerous different characteristics between game, coarse and sea disciplines which would differ the intensity levels found within each discipline which is another research project in itself! This research will hopefully serve as an education to both people involved and people who aren't involved in angling into the POTENTIAL intensity levels that can be achieved and the related health benefits from angling. Also the importance of remaining optimally hydrated when angling to maintain optimal performance and to negate any negative dehydration related issues.
Mr Cholmondeley-Corker (PaSC) on 08/03/2013 14:50:14
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The evidence is there to see. Survey a number of anglers on how much they weighed before the took up fishing and how much they weigh now. I bet most of them weigh a lot more.
barbelboi on 08/03/2013 16:30:44
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The evidence is there to see. Survey a number of anglers on how much they weighed before the took up fishing and how much they weigh now. I bet most of them weigh a lot more. Your not wrong there Corkey...............I took up fishing at four;) Jerry
tesco value on 09/03/2013 11:01:32
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When it comes to mental health I'm sure benefits are much harder to measure although fishing must have a significant impact on many peoples well being. If I'm ever feeling slightly un easy or stressed being in the outdoors has helped no end. There's a study somewhere to do with mental health and time spent in forested areas, those who spend 1hr a week in a forest as opposed to those who don't. It has positive results that I'm sure would be very similar for angling. If I was intent on doing some 'proper' excercise I would definately think to look elsewhere than fishing, although do sometimes do a reasonable amount of walking with as much as can be carried. Great post. It would be very interesting to see a study looking at the psychological benefits associated with going fishing. I'd love to read more about how fishing can improve well being and I think this angle would be a good one to explore.
chub_on_the_block on 09/03/2013 12:15:39
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I am sure that many a potential axe-murdering psycho kind of bloke has taken up fishing and been transformed into a gentler more spiritual nature loving kind of fella. Well most of the blokes down my local pit do still look like axe murderers perhaps theyve just not been caught yet..
MarkTheSpark on 09/03/2013 18:06:24
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The health of anglers probably equates to the health of truck drivers - a bit ****. The problem with fishing is that we carry 40lb of luggage immediately after sitting on our arses for hours on end - getting to the venue, then again when we pack up to go home. Speaking from personal experience, carting around camera bags after four hours driving, day in, day out, knackered my back. I travel much lighter these days, but too late for me. In fairness, I know some really fit anglers and some really fat anglers - just a cross-section of the populous I expect. Interesting study but, for me, not much use because it doesn't reach any conclusions, so I'm none the wiser.


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