The stereotypical surfer is a bronzed god or goddess with chiseled abs, toned arms, and a healthy smile.
They’re often depicted as being happy, laid-back, and completely at peace, and that begs the question, are they getting healthy because of surfing, or is surfing the reason they are healthy?
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Is Surfing Healthy?
Before we talk about the many health benefits of surfing, let’s make one thing clear:
Surfing is very good for you, but it might not give you chiseled abs and complete inner peace.
Many fit, healthy, and happy people are drawn to surfing because of the laid-back lifestyle mixed with speed and exhilaration.
It can also make you feel great, and it’s the sort of life-changing physical exercise that can take you to a happier and less stressful place in your life.
So, whether you’re already fit and healthy or are looking for a new form of entertaining exercise, give surfing a go!
Contrary to what the stereotype might suggest, not all surfers are young, bronzed, and ripped.
It’s an activity that people of all ages, sizes, and fitness levels can enjoy and benefit from.
The Main Health Benefits of Surfing
There are numerous health benefits of surfing, including:
Great Cardiovascular Exercise
Regular cardiovascular exercise can improve your heart health and reduce your risk of heart attacks and strokes.
It will also burn calories.
Not only is surfing a great form of cardio, but it’s also fun, so exercising won’t feel like a chore and you’ll be more inclined to do it often.
Great For Stress Relief
Surfing is relaxing.
You’re not sweating on a treadmill in a stuffy gym.
You’re not stressing at home as you try to rush through a set of push-ups.
It’s just you, your board, and the surf—bliss!
Humans are naturally drawn to the water and there are few things more relaxing than the sound of the crashing waves and the warmth of the sun.
Improved Muscle Tone
Surfing works mostly upper body muscles, including your shoulders and back muscles, which are forced to work when you paddle.
It also works your legs and butt.
Generally speaking, it’s a full-body workout, and while it won’t necessarily give you bulging biceps and thighs that won’t make a sprinter envious, it may help you to appear more toned.
Sure, there are quicker ways to do it.
After all, what people perceive as “getting toned” is actually just building muscle, and weight lifting is a faster way of doing that.
But surfing is way more entertaining and it also blends cardio, making those muscles appear more defined.
Numerous Mental Health Benefits
In addition to stress relief, surfing can also help to combat anxiety, insomnia, and depression.
It makes you feel good about yourself, it stimulates your body and mind, and it’s also a good way to meet new people.
As any doctor and scientist will tell you, a busy social life and plenty of exercise are essential for good mental health.
Greater Core Strength
Surfing is all about balance and staying balanced forces your core muscles to work hard.
The more you surf, the stronger those muscles will get.
If you reduce your body weight at the same time, you could even get that six-pack you’ve always wanted!
If you don’t have great balance, surfing will expose you and you’ll spend the first few sessions paddling through the waves or wiping out.
But over time, your balance will improve.
FAQs About the Health Benefits of Surfing
Do you still have a few questions about how surfing can benefit your mental and physical health?
Take a look at the following FAQs.
Is Surfing Good For Your Mental Health?
For the most part, yes. But as with everything else, the mental benefits will depend on your current state and what you’re hoping to achieve.
If you live in a cold region, hate the water, don’t like being outside, and get angry every time you’re cold, surfing will probably tip you over the edge!
But for the vast majority of people, surfing can provide a huge boost to their mental health.
After all, what can be better than cruising over the waves on a warm and peaceful summer’s day?
Is Surfing A Good Exercise?
As noted above, surfing is a very good form of physical exercise.
It blends cardio with resistance exercise, similar to exercise machines like the rowing machine.
Why Is Surfing So Addictive?
Exercise triggers a release of feel-good chemicals known as endorphins.
They are the reason that you feel so elated during and after a workout.
Surfing also releases serotonin and dopamine.
It stimulates the reward center in your brain due to the anticipation and challenge of a big wave followed by the exhilaration of surfing it.
Being outside also plays a role.
The sun warms your skin and triggers a release of vitamin D; the fresh air fills your lungs with oxygen.
Surfing is addictive because it makes you feel good, and so you want to do it again and again.
Is It Bad To Surf Every Day?
As long as you’re not suffering any physical issues and fighting through the pain, there should be no problems with the physical side of daily surfing.
However, there are a couple of things to look out for.
Surfing involves spending hours on the beach and in the surf.
You may be wearing a wetsuit, you might be wearing nothing but a bikini, base layer, or a pair of boardshorts.
In any case, you will be exposed to harmful UV rays and these will increase your cancer risk.
It’s also important to protect yourself against cold water and wind during the winter months, as there is a risk of hyperthermia.
Other risks include drowning, collisions with boards, waves and rocks, and rip currents.
The rates of serious injury and death are actually very low, but it’s important to protect against them, nonetheless.
When surfing, make sure there is always someone there with you and that you check the water and wind temperature in advance.
Why Do You Feel So Good After A Surf?
As noted above, endorphins play a big role here, but the rush of dopamine and alterations in serotonin are also key.
As far as your brain chemistry is concerned, it’s like going to the gym, sunbathing on the beach, and playing a video game all in one, as it stimulates many areas of your brain.
Why Do People Like Surfing So Much?
Surfing is one of those things that hooks you from the very first moment.
Many people are reluctant to try it, either because they think it’s too hard, too expensive, or not suitable for their location, but once they make the effort, they fall in love with it.
As for why those obsessions take hold, you can refer to the physical and mental benefits mentioned above, as well as the rush of feel-good chemicals that it triggers.