A typical New Year’s resolution is exercising and being fit, and one physical activity that can help you experience better health is sailing.
While sailing will give people an exhilarating and enjoyable experience, it also has multiple health benefits. Sailing is also a lifetime sport and, at Sea Star Base Galveston, it does not have any physical barriers because adaptive sports coordinator Capt. David Gaston’s adaptive program has the boats adapted to meet special needs.
Gaston said sailing requires many different physical activities and motions — “pulling on lines, climbing on and off the boat, all types of things like that,” he said.
Sailing requires people to pull and hoist sails to properly maneuver a boat. Sailing specifically adds muscle strength in the shoulders and back while also building endurance.
“You’re pulling and hoisting, so whenever you are pulling or hoisting line, like David said, maneuvering about the boat, you’re using your core, and you’re using your upper body strength and, of course, that helps with your endurance,” director of community sailing Capt. Mike Janota said.
Another important aspect sailing helps improve is cardiovascular fitness. Sailing can help reduce hypertension, obesity and other heart illnesses. It can also boost hand and eye coordination, flexibility and agility.
“It’s just because of the large amount of oxygen that you take in when engaging in these intense activities like sailboat racing,” Janota said.
Sailing has also shown to improve mental health. Janota said they call it water therapy because the rhythmic movement and the sound of wind in the sails affects brainwave patterns and relaxes and soothes the mind. Janota said the difference in people’s attitudes and moods from being in the parking lot and after being out on the water is outstanding.
“I think it has a lot to do with the salty air; it’s composed of ions, and those charged ions change the body’s oxygen absorption and balances out their serotonin levels,” Janota said. “The more balanced serotonin levels in your body the happier you’re going to be; that’s water therapy to me.”
When people are sailing together, everyone has a role, so communication is key. Teamwork and cooperation is critical when using verbal and nonverbal communication signals. Gaston said for the boat to work efficiently, everyone has to coordinate and time it just right.
“Sailing is a team sport,” Gaston said. “So, everybody on the boat has a job to do when you’re sailing. So, the person who is driving the boat and wants to make a maneuver, so he’s going to say to other person what the maneuver is going to be and because what that maneuver is going to be each of the other person has a particular job that they need to do with trimming the sails.”
Sea Star Base has many sailing programs. People can learn the sport while also appreciating the health benefits of sailing through Class Sailboat Races, which are from noon to 2 p.m. every Saturday at the Sea Star Base.
“There is nothing about sailing that is not fun,” Janota said. “But the thing I enjoy most and the thing that bring back the memories are the relationships and the friendships that are formed from the people that you go sailing with.”
Gaston also agreed with Janota about meeting people when sailing.
“People have such diverse backgrounds, and sailing is kind of the great equalizer.” Gaston said. “People come out, and you don’t realize that some of the people we end up sailing with find out later, some amazing individuals, many of the people we sail with have done these world-renowned things, and you’re out there sailing, and everybody just seems to be the guy next door.”