It's no mystery that you feel a million bucks after surfing.
But why is that?
Is is all just placebo, or are there actually any real health benefits of surfing?
Turns out there's quite a few...
...roughly sixteen last time I counted.
And here they are, 16 little known surfing health benefits
16 SURFING HEALTH BENEFITS
In today's society with depression, anxiety, and PTS on the rise, surfing is proving to be a valid therapy as a combative measure against them.
1. ANXIETY BUSTER
Does surfing reduce anxiety?
Well, if recent studies are anything to go by then yup, damn right it does.
Immersed in nature - no phone, no advertising exposure, no 'things to do' - pre-frontal cortex stimulation is non existent and the body's fight and flight system is able to be at rest.
Calming the body, bringing you back to a place of peace.
2. STRESS, WHAT STRESS...
Stress and anxiety kind of go hand in hand, so it's no wonder that surfing has been shown to reduce stress too.
It's no secret that physical activity and it's stimulation of the amygdala and the hippocampus in the brain have a positive impact on stress levels, which probably explains why most surfers are pretty chill (not all, but most..).
In fact studies have shown that physical activity alone can increase the size of the hippocampus by some 14% in just 8 weeks!
I'm not really sure why that's a good thing, but if a big hippocampus is a byproduct of surfing everyday and it's meant to be good for you I'll take it
3. MAMMALIAN DIVE REFLEX (THE MASTER SWITCH)
This blows my mind...
The Mammalian Dive Reflex (often referred to as the Master Switch) is a physiologic reaction that occurs in mammals (humans included, we are animals remember!) when submerged in water.
Check this out:
When you immerse yourself in water something incredible happens, your body calls upon millions of years of evolution reigniting a fish-like response completely altering the body's physiology.
The heart rate slows, blood is redistributed to the vital organs only, stress levels drop instantly, and a state of calmness ensues.
This is why you feel so good after surfing, and this is why surfing as a therapy can be so valuable.
Surfing is the ultimate full body workout with tonnes of benefits to your health.
4. STRENGTHENS YOUR HEART
Do you ever feel totally, utterly, 100% GASSED after surfing?
Yup, me too, but that's a good thing.
All of that physical exertion is like a workout for the heart, and the more you do it, the stronger the heart will become.
The perfect excuse to spend more time in the water!
5. IMPROVES CIRCULATION
All that blood pumping around your body when you're surfing has the knock-on effect of improving circulation.
Effective circulation ensures that blood and oxygen flow freely throughout the body, giving your organs what they need to function properly.
Not only that but it's been shown to heal wounds faster, contribute to a healthy heart, reduce brain fog, and it even gives your complexion a natural flush too.
It's official, surfing makes you better looking!
6. FAT BURNER - SURF YOURSELF SKINNY...
Surfing is a great way to burn fat.
Surfing is a high intensity anaerobic sport with short explosions of effort, followed by short periods of rest.
Much like interval training.
And this type of exercise has been proven to be epic at burning fat.
So if you've got a few extra pounds knocking around that you want to get rid of, give the diet the flick and just go surfing instead - it's way more fun
7. FULL BODY WORKOUT
Unlike going to the gym where you work out specific muscles, surfing is a frickin whole body workout like no other.
Literally every muscle gets a workout.
And what's even better is it's free, so you can give your gym membership the flick whilst you're at it too.
8. KEEPS YOU ACTIVE
You don't need me to tell you that surfing keeps you active, but I'm going to do it anyway
But think about it, on those miserable rainy days whilst everyone is stuck inside all glum and depressed - you're out surfing.
When it's 6am and everybody is still in bed - you're out surfing.
When everybody else in your office is working - you're out surfing...
Oops, I probably should keep that last one on the d-low
9. GLOWING SURFER SKIN
The circulation health benefits of surfing already contribute to naturally glowing skin, but so does the salt water and natural elements exposure too.
That's why surfers always look so hot!
Radiant, natural, glowing skin - perfect for doing away with those pimples!
10. VITAMIN D TOP-UP
Your body needs vitamin D for a healthy immune system, and the best source of vitamin D comes from exposure to the sun.
During the summer months this sun exposure is easy to come by, but in the winter months where you're locked up for months on end this isn't so easy.
Surfing consistently however changes that, keeping your vitamin D levels topped up, happy and healthy all year round.
11. COLD WATER IMMUNE BOOSTER
Exposure to cold water has been proven to boost the immune system (just ask Wim Hoff he loves this stuff).
Exposure to these cold elements helps to trigger our natural immune system - one that's been lost in our constant quest for comfort and warmth - helping the body to fend off illness and disease.
12. SURFER HAIR
Ok, this isn't really a health benefit of surfing, but it's good nonetheless.
But it's a fact, surfing makes your hear look cool, right?
In fact, city-folk the world over pay good money for the surfer hair look and you get it for free!
There's a money saving reason to surf right there
Surfing helps us to connect to ourselves, nature, and those around us.
13. GET CONNECTED TO NATURE
As a society we NEED to connect to the nature around us a whole lot more that we currently do.
We're not apart from nature, we are a part of nature, and this is something we must constantly be reminded of.
And what better way to connect with the nature around you than to literally immerse yourself in it, distraction free, total immersion.
Just you, and it, together.
14. ACCIDENTAL MEDITATION
Surfing inadvertently transmutes as the perfect accidental meditation.
The ebbing and the flowing of the waves, the lack of artificial stimulation, the alone time and the connection with nature culminating in a meditative state.
A state of presence where the mind shuts off, and focus is purely on the here and now.
An accidental meditation maybe, but a powerful one nonetheless.
15. IMPROVES SLEEP
Surfing and all the many health benefits outlined in this post culminate in improved sleep.
Tired, content muscles, a clear mind plus ample vitamin D, all compounding to help you rest at night and sleep like a baby.
16. CONNECTS YOU TO YOUR TRIBE
As a social species we need to connect with other like minded people and in our ever more segregated world this is getting harder and harder.
Surfing however brings together likeminded people, people with similar values and world views, and connects them around a shared love of the sport.
Go anywhere in the world and meet a surfer and there's an instant connection right there.
This is something we all need in our lives right now
WRAPPING IT UP
Surfing's health benefits are slowly starting to be more widely researched with scientific studies proving time and again just how good surfing is for your health.
But you don't need to be a doctor or scientist to work this stuff out, just go in the water and see for yourself.
Does it make you feel good? Does it make you happy?
If yes, DO IT MORE OFTEN!
According to this article you'll live longer, be thinner, have better skin, nicer hair, be better looking, more calm, happier, fitter, stronger, more connected to nature...
...the list goes on.
So do yourself a favour, if you're Umming and Arring about whether or not to go surfing, quit being a slug and just get in there, your body will thank you for later I promise.
Ex WQS warrior, and all-round frother - Loz is the technical coaching queen at the House of Surf.
She is also a mindset and life coach and has a habit of living in her van way too much.