Gord Nuttall

Fishing and heart health

How fishing helps one avid outdoorsman manage a heart condition.

My doctors at Edmonton’s Mazankowski Heart Institute advise me that my healthy and low-stress lifestyle plays an important role in helping me manage hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a common cause of sudden cardiac arrest in young people.

Part of that lifestyle is a passion for the outdoors and enjoying Canada’s wilderness, especially fishing. Fishing is a healthy activity combining exercise and stress relief, with the added bonus of bringing home table fare that many Canadians do not eat enough of.

This past summer my wife and I flew to Painter’s Lodge in Campbell River, BC, commonly known as the salmon capital of the world, to relax and stock up on wild salmon meals for the winter.

Salmon fishing is not physically demanding but it does require a bit more effort than shopping at your local grocery store. For starters, carrying the gear and packing the boat will have you stopping for a break before you hit the water. Once afloat, bracing yourself in a rough boat ride will activate dormant muscles you forgot existed. Finally once at the fishing location, dexterity will take over as you bait hooks, tie knots and set lines waiting for that first bite.

For me, the best part of fishing is being outdoors. As you settle in and unwind, stress melts away; everyday technologies like emails, text and phone calls vanish instantly. Your brain is now focused on one thing, catching fish. 

You just have to wait patiently for a bite and just when you think it won’t happen, you are springing up to keep the line tight and not lose the fish. Retrieval is not a quick or easy task, especially if they take a few runs and pull out line from your reel. 

Then come the eating. There are so many ways to cook salmon, but we love to barbecue it on a cedar plank, with fresh lemon slices and sprinkled with brown sugar and garden fresh herbs.

Salmon is full of heart-healthy omega-3 fats, specifically EPA and DHA. Consuming at least two servings of fish a week promotes a diet rich in healthy fats and oils essential to good health.

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