surfing is good for you

10 reasons why surfing is good for you

Why is surfing good for you? We know that physical activity, including sports, can have physical as well as psychological health benefits. But what are those particular to surfing? Is surfing better for you than, for example, cycling, karate or softball?

Let’s go over a few of the most beneficial aspects of surfing whether they be physical, mental or more spiritual in nature.

Here are 10 reasons why surfing is good for you.

1. Surfing engages all your major muscle groups

Surfing can be considered a “complete sport” because it requires the use of all of the body’s major muscle groups. Simply paddling out to catch a wave engages your triceps, delts and biceps, traps, lats, obliques and stomach muscles — and that’s before you’ve even gotten to your feet. Getting to a standing position or “popping up” requires the use of your pecs, delts, triceps and biceps; followed by the muscles of your legs (mainly quads and gluts) and lower back once you’re standing. Staying upright and riding waves also brings your core muscles — stomach and mid and lower back — even more into play.

2. It’s a great cardio workout

In order to maintain a healthy heart as well as overall fitness, at least 2.5 hours of aerobic activity are recommended per week. As an energetic and intensive sport, surfing can contribute to maintaining good cardiovascular health. Since surfing is so much fun, for most surfers, 2.5 hours is a piece of cake. If you live near any good surf breaks, you may find yourself spending a lot more of your free time surfing than 2.5 hours a week!

surfing is good for you

Pic: Kevin Cole (Flickr CC)

3. Surfing might boost your immune system

Sustained or chronic stress is associated with many negative health issues, including physical ailments such as heart problems and brain tumors as well as depression and other mental illnesses. Short bursts of stress, on the other hand, can bring health benefits. Research from the University of Stanford suggests that acute stress, such as what you experience during thrilling adventure sports like surfing, may actually strengthen your immune system, improving recovery time and even helping your body protect itself from ailments including skin cancer.

4. Surfing makes you smarter??

Further research from Stanford shows that short bursts of stress can enhance memory and learning. Think of how being more alert can heighten cognitive ability. This is at least in part because cortisol, a stress hormone, can sometimes increase brain plasticity, a process in which the brain’s neurons form new synapses and prune old ones. So the thrills you experience catching a wave can help create more neural pathways in your brain, effectively making you smarter.

5. It improves balance and flexibility

The practice of surfing not only strengthens your muscles, but also makes you more dexterous and flexible. Many surfers practice yoga or Pilates to further improve both balance and flexibility, thereby making them better surfers. Stretching is also an important post-warm-up and post-surfing activity to prevent injury and improve performance.

surfing is good for you

Pic: Michael Coghlan (Flickr CC)

6. You can lose weight while you surf

Intense physical activity, strength training and cardio vascular exercise all help you keep fit and trim. While “losing weight” may be a misnomer since muscle is heavier than fat, surfing will definitely help you burn fat and excess calories. The average surfer burns 400 calories an hour while surfing. Since surfing is so fun, you’re likely to spend more time doing it opposed to other grueling or boring forms of exercise.

7. Experience better mental health

Exercise, spending time outside, having active interests, being social, relaxing… all these aspects of surfing help improve one’s general mental health in a variety of ways:

  • Simply being outdoors and appreciating the beauty of the natural world can encourage a sense of wellbeing.
  • Being engaged in a hobby can improve your focus in life and provide a sense of purpose.
  • Surfing is also a social activity in which you can meet interesting new friends from many different walks of life.
  • Just being out in the ocean is both a relaxing and simultaneously invigorating experience.

8. Surfing broadens your horizons

The search for newer, different and better breaks can lead you to all corners of the world. Surfing encourages you to experience new cultures and natural environments in places like Bali, California, South Africa, Portugal, Brazil, Australia, Hawaii, Morocco and Costa Rica. Meet fellow travellers and friendly locals the world over. Nothing broadens the mind like travel and getting to know new people. You may even meet a new work colleague or future spouse among your fellow members of the global surfing community!

9. Need perspective? Hit the waves!

Nothing grounds you like being knocked over and pushed underwater by a big wave. There’s no point in being angry, you saw how big it was and decided to surf it anyway. When surfing you can feel powerful in that you can ride something so awesome and vast, or you can realize how small you are and how incredible the Earth is. The surf isn’t something you fight — it’s something you try to harmonize with. Shouldn’t we be like that with other aspects of the world?

surfing is good for you

Pic: Bengt Nyman (Flickr CC)

10. Surfing will probably make you look better

OK, this is a shallow reason to surf, but let’s not pretend that any of us don’t care at all about what we look like. And I’m not talking about getting a tan — overexposure to the sun’s rays can age, burn and poison so make sure you wear sunblock no matter what your skin color is. Surfing will help your body become more toned and well muscled. It’s one way of visibly experiencing how surfing is good for you. Plus, the mental wellbeing and fun you experiences make you smile more and everyone looks better when they smile, right?

Know of any other reasons why surfing is good for you? Let us know in the comments section!

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