The health benefits of surfing are numerous. Surfing is a great cardiovascular exercise, using mostly upper body muscles to do the paddling work, and leg muscles to guide the board once you’re up and riding. Since surfing involves more time paddling, it provides an intense upper body and core workout.
The best part about surfing for exercise is that it’s so darn fun that by the time you check your watch you’ve already been surfing for two hours, and you don’t want to quit! Usually when I go running for exercise I want to be done before I’ve even been going for two minutes! Any exercise instructor will tell you that it’s not so much about the intensity of your workout, but rather the time spent exercising. When you’re surfing, you’re constantly moving for your entire session, resulting in an excellent extended workout.
There’s an old saying that Ponce De Leon totally missed the point when he was looking for the fountain of youth…all he really had to do was jump over the side of the boat to find it. The ocean is a source of revitalizing energy. Surfers thrive on riding the energy of the ocean — waves of pure energy that have travelled miles upon miles to reach them. People who surf regularly can surf well into their 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and even beyond. In fact, you may notice that older surfers don’t tend to look their age.
The health benefits of surfing don’t only apply to your physical health. There are also the mental benefits. Surf stoke reduces stress, and often gives surfers a more laid back attitude about life which is actually beneficial to their psyche. The high stress of today’s world is detrimental to our mental health. Physical exercise, especially something as fun as surfing, helps to offset the negative effects of stress. Think about it: surfers are always playing in the ocean! It helps you stay young.
Of course, surfing IS a workout, and you’ve gotta treat your body right by eating well and taking some days off here and there to allow your body to regenerate and repair itself. Diets high in protein and low in fats are beneficial, as well as making sure you’re eating plenty of whole grains and fruits and veggies. If you’re going for a dawn patrol, make sure you eat something for breakfast and try to drink plenty of water. A high protein meal after a surf will help your muscles repair themselves after all that paddling.