Surfing is actually one of the oldest sports practiced in the world, as experts theorize it began with ancient Polynesian fishermen figuring out that riding a wave to shore was a much quicker way to get their catch home as opposed to paddling or rowing. Since then, surfing has obviously evolved into much more of a pastime with a huge following and has become a cultural staple in places like California, Hawaii and the Australian Coastline. Surfing is a great way to get outdoors and tune into nature, which provides numerous stress-relieving benefits; instead of focusing on the daily grind and everyday stresses, your mind focuses on winds, waves and precise movements. In addition, many of us are lacking in Vitamin D, so the added sun exposure helps jump-start your body’s natural production of this key element.

Now for those chiseled abs, right? While we can’t guarantee that you’ll immediately look like a model after just a few hours in the ocean, surfing does provide an incredible and unique workout. First and foremost, water itself sets the scene for a pretty intense workout, as it gives you great resistance when you move through it. Running through the shallows and paddling out to sea can scorch some serious calories and provide you with a super effective cardio workout. Once you reach the wave’s breaking point, it requires a great amount of core, leg and back strength to get up on the board, and especially to keep yourself balanced once you’re up. If you are a new surfer or haven’t been out in a while, you’ll definitely be surprised by how much these muscles really do work during surfing by how sore they are the next day! On top of that, lugging around a heavy longboard and all of that ocean swimming means your arms, shoulders and chest will also be pretty beat by the end of the day. Surfing will help strengthen your muscles and build your endurance, and after you’ve successfully mastered it, your mind, body and soul will definitely be transformed.

Much better than being yelled at in some boot-camp class, right? There’s nothing better than having fun while you’re working out, so grab your suit, slather on some sunscreen and hit the beach running!