Why Surfing is One of the Best Ways to Stay in Shape

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Fitness Through Surfing

One of the best things about surfing is that it’s approachable for everybody—wherever you come from you can find success on your board out on the water. Surfing is also a life-changing activity that requires no prior experience to learn quickly. The best part about surfing is that it has lasting effects that carry over into nearly all aspects of life. Below, we present to you why surfing is the best way to stay in shape.

All in one

First, the obvious: it is a full body workout. Nearly every move you make while out on the water requires a combination of strength and cardio. But don’t worry: you don’t need to be ultra fit to get started. In fact, you don’t have to be in perfect shape to surf or even start surfing. All it requires is energy and motivation.

Surfing is adaptable for all skill and experience levels. Paddling out to catch waves will help build cardiovascular and upper body strength, and popping up into your stance will work your legs and core. As you move through these steps you are working your overall endurance while having the time of your life.

But beyond the impressive anaerobic effects of surfing, the sport also offers a handful of other physical benefits:

  • Improved sleep. It’s a well-known fact that exercise improves your sleep, and after a day of chasing waves, your body is ready for restorative slumber.
  • Stress relief. Surfing can reduce stress and anxiety. Regular exercise triggers the release of endorphins which gives you a similar feeling to morphine and can produce euphoric feels and a positive outlook on life.
  • Increased vitamin D. Exposure to the sun increases the production of vitamin D in your body, which improves bone structure, helps you absorb calcium, and regulates bodily functions.
  • Mindfulness. The“flow” of an activity, where your mind becomes focused, and everything else falls away, is another benefit of surfing. There’s a connection that comes from being present on the water, feeling the board beneath your feet, hearing your breath merge with the sound of the surf, linking turn after turn.

Building Balance

A strong core and sense of balance are crucial to your success—not only in surfing but also in your overall physical health. Maintaining good balance prevents injuries and improves your coordination, making it easier for you to navigate the world and adapt to new activities. Surfing requires a strong core and balance, and practicing the sport over time hones your abilities to do both.

The strength you build while surfing carries over into your everyday fitness and, over time, helps protect you against common age-related afflictions like tendonitis and arthritis. Many surfers also practice yoga and pilates to improve their balance, core strength, and flexibility, and to elevate their surfing abilities. The name itself, “core,” points to how vital these muscles are; a healthy core improves everything from posture to lower back strength and has benefits beyond just looking ripped in boardshorts. And having core strength makes doing everything easier and prevents injuries.

The Power of Passion

Perhaps the most impactful benefit of surfing is the connection you make to the sport. A passion for surfing can improve and maintain your overall physical health. Once an athlete finds “their thing,” training for the activity starts to feel less like work and becomes more enjoyable. Your enthusiasm and love for the sport drives you to workout, stay in shape, and train to become even better.

As professional surfer Yadin Nicol told Men’s Journal, finding a sport you love motivates you to train, “not for abs, or for arms, or for anything on the surface, but rather to become more capable at doing what you love. Because the better you are, the more fun you can have.”

Connecting to a flow-based activity like surfing also impacts the choices you make after you’ve left the water. A study published in Marketing Letters found that viewing an activity as fun verses exercise actually makes working out feel easier. Why does this happen? Because your attention has been redirected away from the effort required. Additionally, the tendency to overeat or choose high-calorie foods (as a reward for your hard work!) after training is reduced.

A Lifetime of Fitness

Getting and staying in shape isn’t a one-time event—physical fitness is an ongoing practice. Engaging in activities like surfing can help you maintain not just a healthy body but a more peaceful mind as well. Even if you don’t live close enough to hit the beach every day for a session, the time you do spending surfing works to improve your balance, strengthen your core, and relieves stress.

Ready to switch up your workout routine and try something different? Surfing might just become of your new favorite hobbies!

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