Just how Healthy is Angling?
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.
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
• 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
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Copyright © 2012. Graham Cobden
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