8 Health Benefits of Surfing
Surfing isn’t just fun and visually stimulating. It’s also healthy for your body, mind, and emotions. Here are eight specific health benefits of surfing presented in random order. All of these benefits enhance the allure of surfing for new and experienced surfers. Here’s more good news. It’s never too late to learn how to surf.
Surfing is a full-body workout that exercises your legs, arms, and core. That results in stronger muscles and better flexibility. About 80 percent of surfing involves paddling on your board to catch a wave, and that’s a fun way to strengthen your triceps, biceps, deltoids, trapezius, rectus abdominis, lumbar spine, shoulder, back, and abdominal muscles. The abdominal muscles get an additional workout from the effort to remain stable on your board as your ride a wave. Popping up into the surfing position also uses muscles in your chest, glutes, obliques, and thighs.
Better Heart Health
Looking good with lean muscles is motivating for surfers of any age, but let’s not overlook the most important muscle in the human body – our heart. Paddling and using muscles to maintain balance stimulates your cardiovascular system with many benefits including healthier cholesterol levels and blood sugar regulation.
Releases Happy Hormones
Hormones are natural chemicals that control the function of many organs, regulate growth, regulate sexual development, and influence how our body stores and uses energy. Every system in our body depends on hormones. That includes our digestive, immune, nervous, cardiovascular, respiratory, and skeletal systems. Surfing releases some of the most important hormones including adrenaline, endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine.
Adrenaline produced by the adrenal gland helps humans respond to sudden challenges and stressful situations. This is where the “fight or flight response” comes from. A surge of adrenaline makes you feel very alive. Endorphins also have a positive impact on our mood. Surfers routinely report a sense of euphoria when describing their surfing experience. Serotonin is another mood-enhancing hormone that helps surfers feel more present and self-confident. Dopamine fosters happiness, pleasure, satisfaction, and motivation.
Bathing in Natural Beauty
Surfing provides an opportunity to experience the natural beauty of the waves, water, and beach along with sunshine and beautiful vistas. Research has documented how outdoor activities like surfing can decrease blood pressure while fostering a sense of happiness and serenity.
Surfing requires learning new skills and continuous practice. Falling will test your patience as you gain more knowledge and experience. Even the best surfers in the world continue to develop their patience as they deal with larger waves, more challenging conditions, and competition with other surfers. Learning to become more patient has a positive impact in every area of life including work, parenting, and other relationships.
Saltwater is good for your skin because it absorbs impurities. It can also help a surfer soak up sebum to balance out oil levels and enhance skin hydration. Sebum is an oily substance produced in the sebaceous glands to form a protective coating on the skin’s surface. And while sunshine is a healthy source of vitamin D, active surfers protect their skin with quality sunblock products.
You won’t encounter too many surfers that are overweight. Surfing burns fat and excess calories. An average surfer burns about 400-500 calories an hour. The range can climb to 500-800 for more experienced surfers catching more waves and riding them longer.
Everyone can relate to the importance of managing stress more effectively. Because surfing requires complete attention, it allows the surfer to let go of thoughts and emotions that can lead to stress. We already noted how surfing releases a cocktail of feel-good chemical hormones into your brain. Surf Therapy or Ocean Therapy has become a new development in psychotherapy treatment to help adults dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and other conditions.