Fish Your Way to Complete Wellness

By Mark Maule, MS, SPN, CFT, YFT
Adjunct Professor, Kaplan University School of Health Sciences

Fishing is one of the most popular sports in the world today. People recreationally fish (or sport fish) a wide variety of fresh- and saltwater-species. Walleyes, northern, muskies, bass, wahoo, sailfish, redfish, and shark are just a few of the species that anglers of all levels pursue for the sake of sport and enjoyment. However, fishing should also be considered beneficial to achieving personal wellness. Fishing provides a means to exercise, a means to improve nutritional practices, and an opportunity to improve psychological being.

As we know, exercise is one of the key facets to improving our overall integral health and wellness. The movements involved in fishing allow for a complete body workout, especially when capturing, or attempting to capture, any of the previously mentioned sport fishes. For instance, standing in a boat and casting for muskies for more than an hour at a time can improve posture, as the abdominals and erector spinae are heavily recruited for functioning. The quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves are equally important when maintaining a vertical position for any lengthy period.

Perhaps one of the most underrated components to sport fishing is the use of the biceps, triceps, and deltoids.  With each cast comes a simultaneous collaborative effort between the three muscle groups to heave the lures out to the water and the fish. The cast, however, is only the beginning of muscle recruitment. Once a large fish catches the lure, the true endurance of arm and core muscles begins.  Saltwater fishermen, in particular, know this to be the case; if you have ever seen a fishing show on television, you most likely have seen the fishermen strapped to the boat so that they are not pulled overboard.  After a 15 minute struggle with a salt- or fresh-water fish, the biceps feel as though they are burning to exhaustion. Thus, this type of casting and catching promotes increased muscular endurance and strength.


The positive nutritional aspect of fishing (and eating what you catch) is probably one of the most overlooked areas when engaging in the sport. Fattier fish, such as catfish and salmon, provide healthy doses of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, both of which are integral fat choices for proper diet. Not only do these and many other fish species contain the fatty acids necessary for proper nutritional balance, but they also are low in calories compared to beef products and are comparable to poultry. Furthermore, if you are able to get out and fish for your meals, you will know exactly what goes into each meal. There won’t be preservatives or other negative additives that can decrease nutritional value, unless you add them yourself.

The last piece to wellness that will be covered in this article is the psychological well-being that sport fishing promotes. Fishing with others can help develop high quality interpersonal skills on several different levels. In fact, there are several states that incorporate “take a kid fishing” events because of the wonderful interpersonal aspects the activity provides. Additionally, being out in the environment with the fresh air on your face, listening to birds sing, and smelling the wild flowers on the banks can bring about a controlled relaxation and ease that few other activities can match. The sense of being an active part of nature makes a complete positive psychological experience.
Fishing is not merely a sport or method of gathering food but a means to achieve integral wellness by focusing on the physiological and psychological aspects of our own individuality. Get out and fish for your wellness!

Mark Maule, MS, SPN, CFT, YFT

Mark Maule is a professor with Kaplan University’s School of Health Sciences where he teaches Creating Wellness: Psychological and Spiritual Aspects of Healing.  Mr. Maule received his Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse and his Master of Science in Psychology/Sport Psychology at Capella University.  He has spent many years working in treatment centers, both residential and day, and as a fitness/wellness director for children ages 6 to 17. 

Mr. Maule is a Specialist in Performance Nutrition (SPN), a Certified Fitness Trainer (CFT), and a certified Youth Fitness Trainer (YFT).  In addition to teaching, he is writing a children’s book and working on opening a wood burning business with his wife.

Kaplan Higher Education Corporation is a division of Kaplan, Inc., a subsidiary of The Washington Post Company.

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