Freedom on water through Stand-Up Paddle - A qualitative study on physical bodily experiences on water and their influence on mental health



Background: In Denmark mental disorders have become the most prevalent disease and account for 25 % of the total burden of disease. This increases the need of initiatives for prevention and treatment in which the role of physical activity and bodily experiences catches people’s attention.
Objective: The aim of this study was to explore the experiences from people with mental disorders doing Stand-Up Paddling, and to explore if and how the experiences had an impact/influence on mental health for them.
Methods: We conducted anthropological fieldwork for three months in Denmark among eight people living with mental disorders, participating in project called ‘Freedom on water’. We used participant observation and qualitative interviews and we participated on the ground as well as by the sea. We made a thematic analysis according to Malterud’s thematic analysis and our analytical perspective was based on theories of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Edward L. Deci and Richard M. Ryan as well as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
Results: We identified themes concerning social interaction, nature, mind-body connection, and experiences of success.
Conclusions: The participants’ mental health was affected positively by their bodily experiences on the SUP-board. When fully concentrated on the board their racing thoughts disappeared and they felt present in the moment, their ability was displayed, their coping mechanisms was strengthened as well as their self-confidence along with being integrated in social interactions. This study proves the value of including the physical body in initiatives when treating people for mental disorders.
Effektiv start/slut dato01/10/2101/03/22


  • fysisk aktiv
  • mental sundhed