Surfing: The Health Benefits

Did you know that as well as being an enjoyable activity, surfing has many physical and mental health benefits?

women surfer

© oneinchpunch /

From working your muscles and breathing in the fresh air, to completing a cardio workout and improving your sleep quality, surfing is the solution to your wellbeing in multiple ways. Read on to find out more about the health benefits of surfing...


Healthy heart

Paddling out on a surfboard works out your arms, legs and plenty of other body parts, so you feel like you're doing a complete workout. This gets your muscles pumping and your heart pounding, creating an effective cardio workout.

A healthy heart can help lower your blood pressure and reduce your resting heart rate, which in turn can lower your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. A study by the American Heart Association concluded 69% of all adults were overweight, increasing their risk of having a heart attack.

The National Centre for Health Statistics revealed one-third of all adults who had visited a GP in the past year were advised to start an exercise programme because they were obese, putting a greater strain on their heart. Surfing can help you to keep fit, lose weight and strengthen your heart, so it's a win-win pastime.


Muscle toning

Surfing is an incredible sport when it comes to doing a full-body workout, as it strengthens many muscles, including your core or abs, biceps, triceps, pectoral, the obliques at either side of your "six pack", the lumbar muscles in your back, your legs and buttocks.

Surfing tones your muscles more than working out in the gym, since you're making use of your body weight to surf. Paddling is a muscle-toner unique to surfing and isn't something you can replicate at home or at the gym.


Burn calories

If you're looking to burn calories and lose some weight, surfing is a fun way to do so. Rather than sweating in a gym for an hour or so, jumping on your surfboard is more exhilarating and will burn calories in a fun way.

Surfing can burn off between 130 and 160 calories in 30 to 60 minutes, depending on your body type and how active you are in the water.


Immune system boost

Studies have revealed that immersing your body in cold water can activate your natural healing powers, helping to relieve the symptoms of various medical conditions. This is why sportsmen and women are often told to bathe in ice-water when they have physical injuries.

Going in the ocean to surf counts as cold therapy, which can help improve your circulation and your immune and lymphatic systems. The pressure in cold water is also known to be anti-inflammatory, easing headaches and pain.

Many famous sportspeople practice cold therapy, including British tennis player Andy Murray and heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill, who reportedly used to stand in a wheelie bin filled with iced water. We're sure you'll agree, surfing is much more fun than standing in a bin of cold water!

However, a word of advice: beware of cold shock, the feeling you can get when suddenly plunging into cold water. According to health experts, anything below 25°C (77°F) is too cold to surf, so don't spend prolonged amounts of time in cold water.


Absorb vitamin D

Grab a dose of healthy vitamin D from spending time in the sun, as it helps your bones grow stronger by regulating the amount of calcium in your blood. Surfing on a hot, sunny day must surely be one of the most fun ways you can soak up some vitamin D, which helps keep your teeth, bones and muscles healthy.

The recommended daily dose is 10 micrograms of vitamin D per day, so surfing will help provide your necessary intake, rather than having to digest vitamin supplements if you're spending a lot of time indoors. Of course, always wear sunscreen when surfing and keep putting more on throughout the day. It won't stop you from absorbing vitamin D, but it will help to prevent skin cancer.


Sleep better

Surfing can help improve your sleep quality because it wipes you out physically, often leaving you exhausted from all the exercise. This means you’ll fall asleep quicker and will usually stay asleep for longer.

The sheer exhaustion will help lull you into a deeper sleep, as your brain ensures your muscles repair themselves and recover properly from all the physical activity.


Improved flexibility and balance

When you stand up on your surfboard and stay there, this requires a good sense of balance. Surfing can improve your balance significantly, while also enhancing your flexibility.

Considering you do almost yoga-like positions to stand on top of your board, surfing means you need to be extremely flexible, as it helps prevent muscular and other injuries, both on and off your board.


Healthier skin and hair

The ocean is full of saltwater, a natural exfoliant that makes your skin smooth and your hair shiny. It's like having a free full-body detox when you spend a lot of time in the sea. The saltwater helps detox harmful chemicals and pollution out of your system.

Plenty of skincare products use salt water and seaweed, while some doctors prescribe saltwater as a means of treating skin conditions, such as eczema. Why spend your hard-earned cash on buying expensive products when you can reap benefits from the sea and enjoy surfing at the same time?


Training your brain

Learning to read the ocean and its waves when surfing is a lot for your brain to take in. You're constantly adapting to currents, rips and tides, possibly spotting different fish and marine life, while striving to stay on the board and take on new challenges.

You're using your brain, even if you don't realise it and it seems like second nature. It's a great way to keep sharp mentally, as well as physically.

Studies have shown that surfing improves your mental health, helping you to deal with stress and get rid of tension. With the incredible effects it has on the mind and the body, there's nothing like surfing to benefit your all-round wellbeing.


Live the dream

Ocean Magic's experts provide specialist services to create hand-crafted, top-quality surfboards at our Cornwall factory. Contact us today for more details.