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Health Benefits Of Surfing

Some of the best bodies in the world of sports belong to surfers…


Pro surfer Laird Hamilton is on the cover of Men’s Health and Outside every other month

The health benefits of surfing are numerous. Surfing is a great cardiovascular exercise, using mostly upper body muscles to do the paddling work, and leg muscles to guide the board once you’re up and riding. Since surfing involves more time paddling, it provides an intense upper body and core workout.

Health Benefits of Surfing:

  • Cardiovascular and heart health
  • Muscle Tone
  • Endurance
  • Increased Energy
  • Back
  • Core
  • Shoulders
  • Legs

Surfing For Exercise

The best part about surfing for exercise is that it’s so darn fun that by the time you check your watch you’ve already been surfing for two hours, and you don’t want to quit! Usually when I go running for exercise I want to be done before I’ve even been going for two minutes! Any exercise instructor will tell you that it’s not so much about the intensity of your workout, but rather the time spent exercising. When you’re surfing, you’re constantly moving for your entire session, resulting in an excellent extended workout.

Surfing can also make athletes out of the most rooted couch potatoes. Those who catch the surfing bug will be eager to wake up at dawn every morning for the early glass, often continuing to their regular job afterwords.

The Fountain of Youth?

There’s an old saying that Ponce De Leon totally missed the point when he was looking for the fountain of youth…all he really had to do was jump over the side of the boat to find it. The ocean is a source of revitalizing energy. Surfers thrive on riding the energy of the ocean — waves of pure energy that have travelled miles upon miles to reach them. People who surf regularly can surf well into their 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and even beyond. In fact, you may notice that older surfers don’t tend to look their age.

The health benefits of surfing don’t only apply to your physical health. There are also the mental benefits. Surf stoke reduces stress, and often gives surfers a more laid back attitude about life which is actually beneficial to their psyche. The high stress of today’s world is detrimental to our mental health. Physical exercise, especially something as fun as surfing, helps to offset the negative effects of stress. Think about it: surfers are always playing in the ocean! It helps you stay young.

Surfers are also a group of people being targeted for lower insurance premiums for things like life insurance and health insurance.  Sproutt is one company looking to reward surfers for living healthier – check out our review of Sproutt and their new technology here.

Proper Nutrition

Of course, surfing IS a workout, and you’ve gotta treat your body right by eating well and taking some days off here and there to allow your body to regenerate and repair itself. Diets high in protein and low in fats are beneficial, as well as making sure you’re eating plenty of whole grains and fruits and veggies. If you’re going for a dawn patrol, make sure you eat something for breakfast and try to drink plenty of water. A high protein meal after a surf will help your muscles repair themselves after all that paddling.


Surfing isn’t the perfect form of exercise, however, since it’s not completely symmetrical. It helps to supplement your surfing with stretching, Yoga, Pilates, or some other form of cross-training so that your muscles don’t become unbalanced. For example, you can’t just work out your quads without working out your hamstrings, otherwise you run the risk of injury. At the very least, try to implement a stretching regiment so that your muscles don’t become too short.

You are also vulnerable to lots of sun exposure that can cause aging, wrinkles, and skin cancer in surfers.

Further Reading

For more information on Surfing Fitness, including exercise and nutrition information, check out the excellent Surfing Fitness page over at!

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Luke Smith
1 year ago

It’s great that you talked about how surfing is a great cardiovascular exercise since it mostly uses the upper body muscles for paddling and the leg muscles to guide the board once you’re up and riding. My friends and I are planning to go on the beach next month and we are thinking of doing a lot of activities there. I am really looking forward on learning how to surf and thankfully we could always ask for surfboard rentals.

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