Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Dragon Boats Are Good for Your Health

Right. Or so says an article on Science Daily, adapted from a press release from McGill University. Dr. Catherine Sabiston of McGill's Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education conducted research on health and survival rates among female cancer survivors who are also dragon boat racers, and found a positive correlation compared to competitive canoe polers, canoe freestylists, and backcountry trippers.

No, really, according to the SD article, the study didn't compare the health outcomes of dragon boat racing to any other paddlesport (or to any other sport or lack thereof, for that matter), but interviewed the women about the psychological benefits they perceived from participating with other female cancer patients. Not surprisingly, the women were very positive about the experience, agreeing that it helped their attitude toward life and illness.

Wonderful. Sounds approximately as useful as my thesis for my Marine Affairs degree at the University of RI, in which I "analyzed" hundreds of photos in dozens of powerboating magazines to determine if they were placing extreme emphasis on the qualities of high speed (and implied, a disregard for high fuel consumption) over other qualities of the boating experience like comfort and quality. (My surprising conclusion? They weren't!)

At least the SD article gave a useful description of dragon boat racing:
Dragon boat racing is an ancient Chinese sport dating back to the 4th century BCE. The boats are long, narrow, canoe-like craft, crewed by teams of anywhere from 10 to 20 paddlers, plus a drummer at the bow and a tiller (or steerer) at the stern. Once restricted to China and to Chinese expatriate communities, over the last quarter-century the sport has become increasingly popular worldwide, particularly on Canada's west coast.

(Photo Credit: Dr. Catherine Sabiston)

1 comment:

  1. The original idea for breast cancer survivors benefiting from dragonboat racing participation was by Dr. Don Mackenzie of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver BC, back in 1996 as I recall. Up until then, conventional wisdom in the medical community was that survivors of breast cancer should not engage in strenuous upper body activities. Dr. Don changed this thinking. Besides the physiological benefits, there was another perhaps more significant positive side effect from dragonboating, and that is the mutual commaradary (sp?) amoung all the women survivors of the disease, a kind of floating (and onshore too) self-help group.