Americans seeking to escape the daily grind are finding the escape route closer to home and more affordable than originally thought. Boating ranks among the top three stress-relieving activities, according to a 2005 survey conducted by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA).
“We know that 90 percent of Americans live less than an hour from a navigable body of water, making the boating lifestyle accessible to most people across the country,” says Amy Murray, director of Discover Boating programs for the NMMA. “More people are finding being out on the water aboard a boat is ideal for stress-relief and relaxation while building long-lasting memories with loved ones.”
In fact, the NMMA survey of more than 1,000 American households found that the most popular boating-related activity is relaxing with family and friends (40 percent), followed by fishing (33 percent), cruising (14 percent) and waterskiing (8 percent).
Half of respondents that have been boating enjoy the time boating lets them spend in nature and the outdoors, while 25 percent said it offers an escape from daily life. In addition to boating, the survey found other top stress relievers include weekend road trips and exercise.
“When you step onto a boat, you leave the world of deadlines and obligations behind and enter a world of personal time for relaxation,” notes Murray. “There are ways to escape daily stressors on land, but there’s something about the boating lifestyle that more people are discovering as the ultimate escape.”
The NMMA reports that nearly 70 million Americans participated in boating in 2004, an estimated increase of 300,000 from 2003. The number of boats, ranging from canoes and kayaks to cruisers and large yachts, on U.S. waterways grew to nearly 18 million in 2004.