Is Surfing Good Exercise?

is surfing good exercise

If you’re looking for a workout that’ll provide a number of physical and mental benefits, then surfing is a great choice. It’s also up there as one of the more fun ways to keep fit.

You won’t need to drag yourself into a dark and busy gym, instead, you can immerse yourself in the water and achieve one of the most effective all-round workouts.

Whether it’s aerobic exercise you’re after, strength training, or maybe even just a stress-relieving mental health workout, surfing covers a wide range of bases.

Ultimately, it’s a great way to stay in shape for both men and women, and it’s so much fun that it won’t even feel like a workout most of the time!


How many calories do you burn surfing?

Despite the laid back nature of surfing and a lot of its athletes, the sport is officially classed as ‘vigorous exercise’ by most health experts. Therefore, by definition, it’s a great way to burn calories.

In fact, a good surfing workout can burn roughly the same amount of calories as playing football, mountain biking or a session in the gym.

To provide some kind of idea, a 130-lbs (59kg) surfer will typically burn around 180 calories in an hour out on the water. This extends to roughly 240 calories for surfers weighing around 175-lbs (79kg).

It’s worth noting that more experienced surfers will also burn a lot more calories while performing some of their neat tricks and charging big waves. Competitive surfers typically burn in excess of 300 calories per hour.

What are the benefits of surfing?

There are a wide range of impressive benefits of the sport, all of which contribute to its unique and valuable ability to exercise both the mind and body at the same time. Below, we’ll take a look at five of the main benefits in greater detail.

1). Strengthens muscles

Perhaps the overriding benefit of surfing is how efficiently it can strengthen numerous muscles in the body. As well as building strength in your upper body and legs, the cross-training nature of the sport is an equally good workout for your core muscles, making it an extremely efficient full-body exercise.

For example, when paddling out on your board to the wave, your shoulder and upper back muscles are in action. Then, as you approach the oncoming wave, your triceps, biceps and deltoids are all activated.

Later, when you’re preparing to ride the wave, your pectoralis major along with the aforementioned arm muscles will lift your upper body to ensure you’re ready and upright on your board. This coordinated muscle work will earn you a fit and well-proportioned body figure.

2). Good for the heart

As research shows, the best cardiovascular exercise is one that allows your heart rate to speed up just enough to an optimal point – a point where you can achieve the best results from your workout.

If your heart rate is too low, your cardiovascular and respiratory fitness isn’t likely to improve, whereas if it’s too high, you’ll tire easily and won’t be able to sustain workouts long enough to reap the rewards.

With surfing, the heart is sufficiently worked through a mixture of paddling, standing up on the board, and continuously working out the core muscles.

The nature of the workout allows you to control how you sustain and pace your heart rate throughout the exercise, even when you’re quickly paddling out to your next wave.

3). Therapeutic benefits

Surfing is widely renowned for its therapeutic benefits. Whether it’s the adrenaline of perfectly riding a wave or the simple feeling of being immersed in the water, surfing is ideal for clearing and relaxing the mind.

Added to this, the warmth of the sun on your skin and the salty scent of sea spray filling your nostrils, and it’s easy to understand why many surfers say the sport provides them with a real sense of communing with nature.

Surfing also requires a considerable amount of focus and concentration. In this sense, it’s a great escape from the stresses of day-to-day life and a good method of resetting the mind after a busy day.

4). Improves coordination and balance

While surfing can be challenging at times with lots of falling over and numerous mouthfuls of swallowed seawater, standing up on the board is what makes it all worth it. It provides a sense of improved balance and coordination which is incredibly useful in all aspects of life.

Most importantly, it can lead to a better, all-round quality of life as you get older. Falling is a big risk for people as they progress into the latter years of their life, but with a solid foundation of well-trained balance and coordination, this risk is significantly reduced.

5). Camaraderie

Surfing is a sport that brings people from all walks of life together. Regardless of age, gender, personality or experience, surfers are almost always welcoming and friendly.

Obviously, there’ll be exceptions to the rule like in any sport, but in general, there’s a real sense of fellowship whenever surfers are out in the ocean together.

Moreover, you’re not there to compete against one another, unless of course, you’re actively looking for competition. Instead, it’s all about competing against yourself and testing the limits of your body. Your fellow surfers are just there to provide encouragement and hype you up.

This natural camaraderie has further benefits with research showing that it’s better to work out with some form of company rather than exercising alone. So, when you’re with a warm and friendly group of surfers you’ll be sure to enjoy your workout even more!

Related Post: Is Surfing A Sport?

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