Whatever your reasons for surfing, it is obvious to anyone who spends time in the line-up that surfing is really good for your health. When you surf, you feel stronger, fitter and happier, and with a good training program you can make the most of these health benefits.
So how does surfing keep you healthy? Surfing is a particularly good way to keep fit because it is such a complete sport. When you surf, you work out all of your major muscle groups.
Your shoulders and upper body get their workout while you're paddling, while your legs get their turn while you are balancing and guiding your board; your core muscles are working hard throughout.
Surfing is also a vigorous cardiovascular workout, helping to improve your overall health condition and protect your heart. We should all be aiming for at least two hours and a half of aerobic activity every week, and surfing can contribute towards this goal.
In fact, many surfers will find it easy to exceed this minimum amount since it is so much easier to spend hours on the water than it is to make yourself work out at the gym. Surfing and other aerobic activities should be supplemented with muscle strengthening activities, which include any exercises that are performed in repetitions.
A well-designed surf training program will include workouts to strengthen all of the muscles you will need on your board, as well as those that you don't use as much when you're surfing.
It will also include some form of cross-training that will ensure you are keeping your muscles balanced. Surfing does not give you a symmetrical workout, so you need to make sure that all of your muscles are getting stretched and strengthened evenly to avoid ending up with shorter muscles on one side. Exercises such as Yoga and Pilates are particularly good for cross-training.
In addition to improving your overall health, surfing can also provide you with some more specific benefits. Surfing can help to improve your balance, flexibility and stamina, while the mental health benefits of surfing include feeling happier, more energetic, and more mindful and relaxed.
Words by Helen Barber.