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The initial benefits of surfing are obvious—old fashioned fun, time spent in nature, physical fitness quickly come to mind no matter if you’re just learning to surf or have been at it for years already. We’ve taken a deep dive into the pros of surfing and the science behind the exciting sport.
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Surfing Helps Alleviate Stress
The United States Navy has begun investing money into research on the therapeutic results of surfing. They found that it leads to decreased anxiety, stress, and an overall negative view of life. Physical exercise combined with being in the ocean and working on learning something new all contribute to increasing mental health. Nonprofit organizations, like OneWave, are also using surfing as a way to raise awareness of mental health issues.
Surfing requires mindfulness, allowing you to disconnect from any land-based problems and the constant buzz of technology. With few distractions and a focus on your surroundings, surfers often find themselves returning to everyday life with more clarity and less stress following a surf session.
Surfing Increases Your Heart Health
Since surfing is a cardiovascular sport, it affects the overall health of your heart. According to studies published in the Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine Journal (2018), cardiovascular exercise decreases your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, lowers your blood pressure, increases your insulin sensitivity, and decreases your risk of dying from a cardiovascular issue. As long as you don’t overdo it, surfing will help your heart and increase your longevity.
Surfing Strengthens Your Muscles
Researchers from the National Strength and Conditioning Association studied competitive surfers and found that surfers spent 54% of their surf sessions paddling, 28% waiting for waves, and 8% actually riding the wave (the rest of the time was spent wiping out, we presume). Like any surfer knows, paddling is what you spend the majority of any surf session doing, and it requires strength. During any given session, you may paddle a mile or more. This requires arm, back, abdomen, and shoulder strength. Each session you complete, the stronger you are getting.
Other than surfing, one single exercise can rarely work your triceps, biceps, deltoids, and your entire core. As you pop up on a wave, you then work the entirety of your arms, your pectoralis major, your quadriceps, gluteus, and gastrocnemius. Surfing truly is a full-body workout, even if the majority is spent on the upper body.
Surfing is a Way to Meet New Friends
Surfers are some of the best people on the planet, and getting into the sport of surfing can introduce you to a whole world of fun-loving, like-minded individuals. The ocean is huge, and there are likely hundreds of surfers around you in the water at any given spot.
Sparking up conversations in the water as you are waiting for a wave is a great way to meet new people and find new buddies to surf with. It is a great sport in the sense that you can do it solo or with a whole group of friends, and it is fun either way! You can easily make surf friends by going on a surf camp, joining a beach clean-up, or a meet-up group.
Surfing Offers Opportunities to Travel The World
If you get into surfing, you are going to want to branch out from your local beach. Surfing is a sport that can take you all across the world to some of the most amazing waves. When you travel to surf, you’ll experience the landscape in a unique way and be able to surf waves of varying types. Head to the Mentawi Islands for warm water barrels, Mexico for good food and good waves, or get a campervan and head off on an Australian road trip. Surfing is an excellent excuse to take a tropical vacation or to travel up the coast with friends and hit new surf spots. However you chose to do it, surfing will open up travel opportunities that you likely would not have had otherwise.
Surfing Connects You With The Natural World
In a study of over 20,000 people led by the European Centre for Environment and Human Health, researchers found that two hours per week spent outdoors brings a massive benefit to mental health and psychological wellbeing. Surfing or doing any type of workout near the ocean has a special effect on the brain, promoting inner calm simply be being out in nature.
Surfing Boosts Your Immune System
Some people complain that they do not want to take up surfing because they do not like entering the cold water. This, however, is one of the most beneficial parts of surfing. Harvard Business Review reports that regularly entering cold water invigorates your body and releases your stress hormones. It has anti-inflammatory effects and strengthens your overall immune system.
Additional benefits of cold water include the release of tension, muscle aches, headaches, and overall pain. It also raises your metabolic rate, kicking your body into overdrive to warm itself up and burning a higher amount of calories, just by being in the water.
Surfing Increases Your Vitamin D Intake
Spending time out in the sun allows you to get your daily dose of vitamin D. There are so many benefits of vitamin D, and many people do not get enough of it. Vitamin D helps the body absorb and utilize calcium and phosphorus, which are used to strengthen your bones. Additionally, it has been reported that vitamin D can reduce the growth of cancer cells in the body and reduce inflammation.
Surfing Helps You Manage Weight
Surfing is a quick way to burn off a lot of calories at once. A typical surf session can burn between 500 and 800 calories per hour. Of course, this calorie count is an estimate, and it varies based on the person, the surf conditions, and much more. Some online calculators allow you to enter your weight and surf time to determine how many calories you have burned.
Surfing Increases Sleep
If you are struggling to sleep at night, consider incorporating a surf session into your daily routine and watch how it transforms your sleepless nights. Surfing physically exhausts every part of your body, wearing your body down and helping it get into a deeper sleep at night and stay asleep longer.
If you want to sleep even better, head out for dawn patrol sessions. Studies show that regular morning exercise outdoors helps your body to release more melatonin in the evenings, which is the hormone that helps your body drift to sleep. Increased melatonin secretion in the early evening will help you sleep better throughout the night and get your body into a sleep rhythm.