Is surfing good for fitness? If you’ve ever been to a beach and observed the surfers there, then the answer should be clear. Otherwise, the vast number of surfer movies and documentaries showing lots of athletic “dudes and dudettes” will confirm your suspicions.
Now, it’s pretty obvious they didn’t get that way just because of surfing. That would mean they have to surf year-round (winter included). Though some are dedicated enough to try, the average surfer probably won’t risk freezing for a six-pack. But, on the right occasions, the sport is a magnificent opportunity for fun and adrenaline. Not only that, but it is an excellent chance to boost your fitness and overall quality of life. Here is why.
Cardio and Strength in One Go
What makes surfing good for fitness is the complexity of movements you’re performing to stay above the waves. Every part of your body has their share of work to do before you can master the art:
- First off, take the running towards the waves and paddling sections. They are excellent cardio to increase your lung capacity and your body’s resistance to fatigue. Not to mention the back and shoulder strength you’re building up with all that paddling.
- Second, consider the core workout you’re going through. The mere act of holding your balance on the board puts your abdominal support muscles under pressure.
- Finally, your legs will feel the burn as you struggle to conquer the wave under your board and zoom away all the way back to the beach.
Of course, having a healthy heart, a strong core and well-defined leg muscle is an advantage in and of itself. But your balancing acts have an even more beneficial effect, one that will carry over into old age.
Yes, not the biggest of reveals. It’s not a grand secret –if your job involves a healthy sense of balance, surfing is all the more recommended. Instead, what we’ve noticed is that many people seem to take their current steady footing for granted. We forget that our stability worsens as we age due to various factors such as bad eyesight, illness, difficulty concentrating, and others.
What makes surfing good for fitness is how you can turn that sense of balance into a second nature. Your mind may not be as sharp when you get older, so before you can register that you’ve slipped and are falling, it’s probably too late. On the other hand, if you practice surfing, you can instinctually hold your balance even though your body is at less than peak condition.
Excellent for Flexibility
Staying flexible isn’t just to impress your friends with your ability to do splits. A high degree of flexibility can help you prevent pulling a muscle and other such incidents, even when you’re not surfing. It happens to professional sportspeople from time to time. They don’t exactly have a fitness problem, as much as some forget the flexibility factor in their workouts. And, of course, we can’t forget the obvious benefit for later in life, exactly as discussed in the previous section.
Catch Some Better Zs…
Exercise helps you sleep better, and there are plenty of studies out there to prove it. The energy expenditure is the prime factor that makes your sleep all the more restful. With the intense workout that surfing provides, your snoring will be waking up the neighbours in no time. While mentally it’s a huge benefit, sleep is also magnificent at repairing damaged muscle tissue from your training regimens.
Surfing has also been shown to lessen the effects of PTSD, as well as being generally helpful at reducing stress and its negative effects. If your work life is taking its toll on you, surfing should be the perfect exercise to take your mind off of things and feel the release of the ocean. And, let’s be honest, nothing can compare to the refreshing feeling of waking up after a good night’s rest, stress-free.
… And Some Sun As Well
There’s nothing wrong with having a gym membership and working out on their treadmills, bikes, and other machinery. We actually recommend it to anyone living a relatively sedentary lifestyle. While there are undeniable benefits to going to the gym, exercising in nature is undoubtedly the way to go. For one, you are no longer in a controlled environment with “safety nets” all around you. You need to push yourself harder to avoid injury, which makes for a more intense overall workout. At least in our opinion.
But most of all, you are not stuck between four walls with only artificial lights around you (and twenty or so sweaty people, but that’s beside the point). Part of what makes surfing good for fitness is that you’re spending more time in the sun. As you probably know, the sun’s rays help your body produce more Vitamin D, which is excellent for:
- Adjust your calcium and phosphorus levels;
- Strengthen your bone structure and preventing bone-related illnesses;
- Helps skin regenerate efficiently.
Everything in moderation, though. Remember to put on some sun lotion, as too much of anything can be bad – especially UV rays.
Surfing Good for Fitness? Can’t Argue with That!
We’ve established many factors that make surfing good for fitness. Strength, flexibility, balance, vitamins(!), less stress, peaceful sleep, and so on. We’re starting to sound like the gimmicky martial arts masters from the movies. Though we have to agree, there is a nice feeling of self-accomplishment after you learn to master the waves, especially the most fearsome ones. Maybe just as satisfying as Daniel winning the tournament in Karate Kid.
Still, don’t forget what we said at the beginning of the article. Surfers didn’t get their six-packs just by doing what they do best. Naturally, you would include swimming as part of a summer training plan, but don’t limit yourself. Go jogging, play volleyball, learn capoeira, the possibilities are endless on a sunny, sandy beach. Keep surfing as a healthy “dessert” after the main course of exercises.