6 Reasons Why Surfing is a Good Cardio Workout

Posted on December 15th, 2017 at 3:00 am by

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Surfing is on many people’s list of favorite hobbies, because it’s a wonderful way to let off some steam, de-stress, have some fun, meet people, and exercise. It requires a lot of preparation, motivation, and exercise to become good at it, but once you learn how to ride the waves properly – the benefits are countless.

One of the major benefits of surfing is that it’s really good for your health, making you feel happier, fitter, and stronger. Surfers mostly use their upper body muscles (paddling) and leg muscles (controlling the board when riding the waves).  A great cardiovascular exercise, surfing provides an intense core and upper body workout, which means it’s much more than just paddling.

1. Lower impact on the back, hips, and knees

Surfing, unlike running, leaves out the impact on your back, hips, and knees. It also allows you to keep your heart rate up in the 50%-80% target HR zone for a longer period of time, eventually having you end with a huge smile on your face.  Many people find that they can’t swim, bike, or run for this long and with the same effect.

2. Improved balance and flexibility

Surfing improves your balance, as it requires you to remain on your board while surfing those wild waves.  It requires a lot of effort and exercise, but once you acquire this skill, it also carries over into your daily life. Also, you increase your flexibility which aids in injury prevention (both on and off the board), which helps you become a better surfer.  Of course, you need to get yourself the right board and a quality leash that will prevent you from diving under the waves, which is a terrible and dangerous habit to get into.  Instead of spending your time running around town to find good equipment, you can get your surfboard at a well-equipped surf shop online, and spend all your free time riding the waves.

3. Muscle strengthening

When paddling, you strengthen your shoulder and back muscles, and while surfing, you can build a strong core and get toned legs due to the balance you need when you’re on the surfboard. Surfing develops your body because of the constantly changing height and movement of the waves, (a 180-pound person can burn up to 260 calories in 60 minutes).  Water sports tend to be great full-body exercises, and surfing is not an exception.

4. Mental health benefits

Physical exercise in general has a positive effect on our mental health. A fun sport like surfing definitely helps to offset the bad effects of stress that gets built up on a daily basis.  Surfing is done on water, nature, which alone has various health benefits. Next, extended physical exercise causes the body to release endorphins (one of the four happy chemicals”), which create a natural feeling of euphoria and promote a good mood.  Also, surfers say that they experience a feeling of power when they’re in touch with the ocean, and this teaches them patience. You must focus on your movements, the water, and the wave sets, which is a great opportunity to find release from the thoughts that always occupy your mind.

5. Improved sleep


Regular exercise is proven to improve the quality of sleep, reduce daytime sleepiness, improve alertness, and alleviate stress.  Without sleep, our bodies wouldn’t have the chance to replenish their energy and repair themselves. Paddling and surfing is a low-resistance exercise that can really drain you of energy, and have you sleep like a baby. Also, there’s nothing that has us feeling more refreshed than that great feeling of waking up after a night of quality sleep.

6. Self-gratification

Learning to surf requires time, patience, motivation, and constant effort. If you want to see yourself progress with your surfboard skills, you need to commit and persevere, and once you overcome these barriers, you’ll see huge rewards. You’ll enjoy all the physical and mental benefits of surfing, but you will also prove to yourself that you’re capable of achieving goals that may have seemed unattainable at certain points.

The take-home message is that surfing is a fantastic cardio exercise that brings many other health benefits along.  If you’re stressed, have bad sleeping cycles, want to strengthen your body, and improve flexibility and balance – surfing is the answer.  It’s both an aerobic and anaerobic exercise that can help keep your body fit and toned, and help you ease the stress and maintain a positive attitude in life.

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