Wilderness Canoeing is Bad for your Health

by Richard Munn - from CCR Archives|Published 05-20-2008

Yes, I know ... you've always felt that wilderness canoeing is a healthy activity.  The outdoor types who paddle our wilderness areas are all robust, strong, hearty types who are the very picture of good health.  They spend long hours in the fresh air, getting above-average levels of exercise from paddling into headwinds and portaging heavy packs and canoes from lake to lake.

I hate to disillusion you.  I've been doing some research and have found out the the potential for dangerous and serious medical conditions far outweighs any benefits that may result from the fresh air and exercise.

Preposterous you say?  I'm sorry, but my research has been detailed and meticulous.  I have scoured back issues of the most prestigious medical journals and it is on the basis of this data that I have formed this thesis.

Still doubtful?  Read on and like me, you'll be discouraged to find out that we're killing ourselves by engaging in this activity.  This is just a small sample of the serious medical conditions I've found that are directly attributable to canoeing.

(Gawker's Neck Syndrome)
A potentially serious spinal problem caused by repetitive twisting of the neck.  It is the result of the continual turning of the head while driving to gawk at every creek, lake and river that sits adjacent to the highway to gauge their potential as a possible canoe route. It is also worth noting that canoeists have a statistically higher than average incidence of involvement in head-on collisions, since they are always looking at water levels in waterways along the road instead of watching for oncoming traffic.

(Terminal Flatulence)
Caused by over-consumption of packaged dehydrated meals with high levels of beans and grains.  There is also a theory (unproven) that this condition is exacerbated by the speed with which canoeists eat their meal, due in part to the fact that they are always hungry, and also because they have to wolf down their food before they are completely eaten by mosquitoes and blackflies.

(Chef Interference Induced Violence)
A psychological condition in which a normally peaceful person will suddenly snap and commit a violent act upon another.  The condition seems to occur when a person is designated chef or food-preparer for the evening, and cannot cope with the persistent interference of the other paddlers, who hover around like vultures, asking over and over when supper will be ready.  The worst cases seem to take place in situations where the paddlers are continually reaching over the shoulder of the chef and sneaking bites of the food during the preparation process.

(Fear Related Constipation)
A debilitating condition which affects those who are afraid to take the nighttime trek back in the bush to answer nature's call due to fear of being eaten by bears, wolves or other local wildlife.

(Spring Paddling Blood Loss Syndrome)
An affliction affecting those paddlers who simply cannot wait out the spring blackfly season before their first trip.  Clinical measurements have yielded absolute proof that those who paddle in peak fly season have blood volume levels up to 20% lower than the rest of the population.

(Blood Flow Induced Cranial Enlargement)
An serious condition manifested by gradual cranial (head) enlargement. The theorized cause of this problem is sleeping on sloping ground with the head at the low end of the Thermarest.  Not seen much in the prairie provinces or the barren lands, where all ground is flat, but a common and serious affliction in other parts of the country.

(Snoring-Induced Homicide)
Obviously not a disease or syndrome, but still a serious risk factor for paddlers.  Statistics compiled by life-insurance companies show a 30% higher risk of death by homicide among tent partners where one person snores and the other doesn't.  Watch for a question about this to appear soon on life insurance medical questionnaires.