If you have a passion for surfing, then you probably already associate surfing as your go-to soul medicine.
Surfers might inherently know that surfing is good for them, both in terms of the mind and body, but what exactly is it that makes us feel so damn euphoric, happy, and strong after a long session? Not that we needed any more reasons to surf, but understanding the health benefits of surfing will make you appreciate your love for this special sport even more, and will inspire you to continue surfing as much, and as often, as you can.
The act of surfing itself requires a high level of fitness, an incredible whole body workout, and the pure simplicity of riding a wave does nothing but push aside the tribulations that come with mental illness, making it a powerful asset in fighting hardships such as depression, anxiety, and overall stress.
Understanding the health benefits of surfing starts first with the physical benefits, as these benefits not only promote your mental well-being, but they are the driving force of why surfing is so good for you and your physical health.
Surfing, at its core, is a cardiovascular workout.
To send the necessary oxygen required to fuel working muscles, the second you jump in the water your heart rate and breathing will increase.
Between the kilometres of paddling that quickly add up and the constant need to use our lungs, surfing makes for healthy hearts.
High levels of cardiovascular health help to prevent heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and more, as well as lowering cholesterol and blood pressure for long-term benefits to your entire health and immunity, so go ahead and check off the cardio box after a long surf.
Being strong isn't just about having a nice physique with toned muscles, but high levels of strength is also a keystone element to a long, wave-filled life. And good news for you, surfing builds serious muscle, as paddling and our explosive turning movements, on top of fitness routines outside of surfing, are all strength-based workouts.
Strong muscles benefit you by helping to prevent major injuries to your tendons or ligaments, improving your flexibility, boosting metabolism, and making regular life activities simply easier to carry out; so surfing can, and does, quite literally protect the longevity of your body through this muscle growth.
Reading the waves and being able to translate your movements accordingly is an integrated aspect of surfing. Things move fast, and this requires a high level of coordination to respond with your body according to what mother nature asks for.
By practising surfing, you are also practising coordination, and as all things go, practice makes perfect.
Yet your coordination would be nothing if you weren't apt to balance on your surfboard. By mastering surfing, you are also mastering your balance, and this will showcase many effects that span into other aspects of your life.
So why is surfing good for you if it promotes coordination and balance?
I hate to say it, but we all get old, and to offset the ailments of aging you must keep your mind sharp through coordination practices like surfing. That, and by keeping your balance on point you will age like fine wine, less prone for the falls that solidify the fact that we are getting old.
If you're looking to shed a few kilos then surfing can help you out.
The calories burned surfing for one hour can range anywhere from 180-220 or more depending on your body weight, so surf a few times a week and you'll really work at negating any fat storage, as these calories are your driving force for energy.
Top that off with the right surfer diet and you enjoy the simultaneous stoke of surfing while also losing weight.
If you surf, then there's a good chance your vitamin D intake is totally taken care of. When we surf, we get more than enough sunshine, and this is a great way to soak up some healthy rays that provide much-needed vitamin D, as long as your skincare is on point of course.
Vitamin D regulates the amount of calcium in your body, so surfing is an extremely effective way to build strong bones and help regulate calcium levels in those with hyper or hypocalcemia.
A ton of chemical-based face washes and shampoos feature saltwater and seaweed as part of their ingredients. But why use those when you can receive the same skin and hair care all-natural via mother nature?
Saltwater is an excellent exfoliant, and will naturally clear your skin (as well as helping to clear out other toxins from your body) while promoting healthy and strong hair to add to the reasons of answering why is surfing so good for you.
Healthy mind, healthy body, right?
Surfing is good for your body, and that makes it good for your mental health, but the benefits as to why surfing is so good for your mental health are also far more spiritual and deep.
Oh yeah, the stoke is real. All surfers would agree, but ask a scientist and they would have to agree as well, because the stoke can quite literally be proven and visualised on our brains.
Like a dose of positive energy for your mind, the natural high you get from catching a wave is a mixed release of the feel-good chemicals found in the brain also known as Neurotransmitters.
These neurotransmitters are what you make euphoric, and aside from the momentary benefits they provide our general happiness, they are excellent at combating mental illness long-term.
Depression is often described as drowning whilst everyone around you is breathing. This dejected statement somewhat depicts the reality that over 18% of Americans live with in their day-to-day lives.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, only 46% of those diagnosed with depression are seeking treatment.
But in a world where treatment can often mean symptom suppressing pills and numbing medication, people are beginning to understand that the value lies more in the treatment that addresses your overall health and well-being, and that this treatment does not have to be prescribed by a doctor.
Studies backed by Therapists around the world are suggesting that this figurative expression of sinking below the waves when suffering from depression, can in fact be healed by riding them.
We all need ways that we can unwind. From simple to serious daily stressors, surfing will help to shed them away.
A pause from the realities of work, a way to face east or west as you watch the waves so that the buildings and cars of today's world can no longer be seen. Time spent completely submerged in nature.
Stress is like health's worst enemy, as it can lead to and cause a plethora of other ailments, and surfing is such a simple yet spiritual means to deal with negating the hand of stress.
A good night's sleep is the key to proper muscle recovery, a strong immunity, low-stress levels, and overall just feeling good and productive during your day!
Surfing promotes sleep by increasing levels of melatonin, the sleep hormone, as well as simply wearing you the heck out, making this one of the most powerful health benefits of surfing.
Surfing is more than just a way to receive an adrenaline rush, as the health benefits of surfing are so far and wide that it is medicine for the soul.
The symbiotic relationship it forms with both your mind and your body is potent and powerful, a means to instill happiness and combat mental illness whilst becoming a stronger and more fit individual.
So instead of hitting the gym for some air conditioning and machine oriented workouts, why not change it up a bit, especially if you have never tried surfing before, and hit the water!
You won't miss a beat when it comes to building muscle, and your mind will feel free as it has ever been, as the health benefits of surfing will only showcase to you their true power when you finally jump into the salty water and place your feet on a freshly waxed surfboard.