Why Dragon boat racing is making us much stronger
The sport is of real benefit to breast cancer survivors, says specialist and NI team member Dr Gwyneth Hinds
The Lagan Dragons, Northern Ireland's only breast cancer survivors' dragon boat team, is gearing up to host its first ever regatta on Saturday at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast.
The River Lagan will be teeming with boats as 420 rival paddlers take part and there will be lots of family entertainment for spectators too. The all-female crew was founded by breast cancer survivor Joanne Rock and the group first set sail in 2015. Since then the team has grown to more than 40 members who attend weekly training sessions, with most new members being referred by surgeons or nurses in local hospitals.
Dr Gwyneth Hinds, associate specialist in the Breast Unit at Belfast City Hospital and a Lagan Dragons team member, says taking part helps survivors feel emotionally and physically stronger.
"Medical research shows that those who participate in dragon boat paddling following breast cancer treatment have more energy and feel physically stronger due to the strenuous upper body activity," says Dr Hinds.
"The sport also gives survivors the opportunity to gain emotional support and enhance their social well-being by providing a safe social outlet in a unique environment."
Dr Hinds has also recommended a 14-day kick-start healthy eating plan to reduce weight and the risk of diseases, including cancer.
While many foods have been called superfoods, there is no one magic food to prevent cancer, but a mainly plant-based diet which includes a wide range of vegetables, grains, nuts and fruit will have definite health benefits.
The Lagan Dragons Regatta is on Saturday at Belfast's Waterfront Hall from 10am-3pm. All races will be over 200 metres and teams must be made up of between 12-17 paddlers and one drummer. To find out more or receive further information on joining the Lagan Dragons, visit lagandragons.com or @Lagandragons on Facebook or Twitter