Dragonboating is so much more than just getting fit. The benefits of joining a team and participate in this activity could:
feelings of camaraderie
a sense of renewed fitness and health
opportunities to promote awareness of a full and enjoyable life after breast cancer
enhanced self-confidence and control of one’s life.
Quotes from paddlers themselves:
“The feeling of racing, giving it your all using every ounce of muscle that you possibly have. That feeling of strength, the camaraderie. Getting us all together. You can do it if there are 22 people in the boat, you can go anywhere. It’s everybody, all working paddling the same...”
Within the predominant theme of physical and emotional well-being, one paddler describes her renewed feelings of self-confidence, fitness, and taking back control of her life:
"...That’s why I think dragon boating is so important to women because it starts to build their confidence back that they can do something, taking control of their lives and puts them in fantastic physical shape...through all of the accomplishments you have a feeling of control back and of confidence back. Then you start feeling great from a physical aspect...comes the confidence and from the confidence comes the control, it’s all weaved together"
In another study, a participant described how the experience of dragon boat racing gave her a sense of renewed health:
"I found [dragon boat racing] actually improved my physical condition. I used to have very severe osteoporosis, and I had lower back pain, and when I started paddling, because you use your whole body and you use your lower back, I was worried that it would cause too much strain on my back and it would be difficult, but it had the opposite effect. After a while, my back pain actually went away, so it was really beneficial"
Although dragon boat racing has not been included in lists of more standard complementary therapies for cancer, it clearly fits within definitions provided by leading experts in that area in that it serves as an “adjunct to mainstream cancer care” and is aimed at enhancing wellbeing (and controlling symptoms) of its participants.
As can be seen from the quotes above, involvement in this sport has enhanced the well-being of its participants and assisted in controlling their symptoms.
Not only has physical exercise been shown to contribute to increasing muscle strength and enhancing overall fitness and well-being, it has been shown also to improve overall quality of life and to prolong survival in women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.