Kayaking for your Health
“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats,” (Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows).
Five years ago, my husband James and I found ourselves sitting on the bank of the beautiful Caney Fork River in Silver Point, Tennessee watching an older gentleman in a bright yellow kayak sit calmly and cast his fly rod perfectly across the placid water. We watched the man in silence for several minutes before I turned to my husband and exclaimed, “Let’s get kayaks!” James looked at me with a half smile, seemingly surprised by my sudden, child-like enthusiasm to take up kayaking. We both smiled and laughed a bit, but neither of us brushed the idea off entirely. James’ wry smile was enough to let me know that I had a chance to carry through with my sudden inspiration to become a kayaker.
Both my husband and I are career educators, with James having served as a teacher, coach, and high school principal before retiring and being elected as a school commissioner. I had spent 17 years in the classroom prior to serving as a school administrator, so James and I are both all too familiar with demanding and stressful careers. When I had loudly proclaimed my excitement about the need for us to get kayaks, James and I both knew that we needed a form of stress relief and a way to get more exercise. Kayaking wasn’t too far fetched.
Fast forward a couple weeks later, and James and I found ourselves at a nearby kayak dealer. We looked at every model that was available. I was fascinated by the color options, the application specific kayaks, the fishing kayaks, and I even toyed with the idea of getting a white water kayak. We decided since we had zero experience kayaking, we would stick with kayaks that were relatively stable and easy to paddle. After we selected the two kayaks that we wanted, we tied our new kayaks down in my husbands’ truck like the total novices that we were and drove home as excited as two kids on Christmas morning.
Not only did kayaking prove to have stress relieving benefits for James and me, it also provided us with exercise that neither of us had been getting. But as fate would have it, shortly after our kayaking adventure began, James was hospitalized and had to have a stent placed in his heart to help open an artery that was blocked. I was scared for James’, and I was worried he and I might not be able to continue to enjoy our new hobby together even after he recovered. This hurdle could have stopped James and I from kayaking altogether, but thankfully, that was not the case. James’ cardiologist encouraged him to continue kayaking and getting out and exploring. Within a month after James’ stent placement, we were back on the water with James paddling his kayak like a champ. Since then, we have never stopped kayaking together.
Kayaking opened up a lifestyle of adventure and exploration that James and I had not previously enjoyed. We were both tremendously focused on our careers for so long, neither of us really took the needed time to get away and just enjoy being outside. We had forgotten what it was like to have a hobby that we both could look forward to doing together.
Over the years, kayaking has taken us on so many amazing adventures. We have kayak fished along the Forgotten Coast of Florida, Coastal Georgia, through the mountains of east Tennessee, and we have spent so many hours on the beautiful waters of Rock Island State Park near our home in McMinnville, Tennessee. James and I have caught Bass, Sea Trout, as well as Muskellunge on our kayak fishing adventures. This incredible sport has kept us healthy, and it has provided us both with a hobby that has allowed us to take a break from the day to day stress that we have encountered in our professional lives. The peace that paddling our kayaks has given us is truly priceless. The memories that James and I have made on the water together are absolutely irreplaceable.
Pick up a Bending Branches paddle, and start your adventure to better health today!