Mention the word surfing to many people, and they’ll assume you’re talking about vegging out with a TV remote control or on the web. While being a couch potato can be fun, grabbing a surf board and learning to ride the waves will do far more for both your physical and mental well-being.
Surfing provides a great full-body workout as it requires intense upper body engagement when paddling and strong lower body work to guide the board once you’re upright. At the same time, core muscles are engaged throughout, making surfing a fun way not only to improve cardiovascular fitness and build strength in the upper and lower back, arms and legs, but it also improves balance, coordination, stability and power. While muscles are being strengthened, surfing doesn’t bulk up the body, but instead builds long, lean muscles less prone to injury.
Because surfing is not really a symmetrical form of exercise (surfers tend to favor one side), it should be balanced with stretching and cross-training in order to maintain muscular equilibrium. Also, as with any form of exercise, easing into surfing under the tutelage of an experienced surfer is a kind choice to your body. Otherwise, you can end up with some pretty wicked back spasms.
If you take up surfing, you won’t necessarily become the laid-back surfer dude. But hours in the sun, in saltwater, moving your body, while syncing up with nature is a recipe for increasing your sense of well-being and overall health.
A number of surfing camps offer lessons for newbies, both children and adult classes. One camp featuring classes taught by world-class surfers is Surf Diva, which conducts two- to five-day workshops for women at beginner and intermediate levels at several southern California locations, as well as Costa Rica.
If you’re not on the southwestern coast of the U.S., don’t consider yourself out of the surfing loop. Surfing is happening worldwide, from the shores of New Jersey to Australia’s “Gold Coast.” To learn more about surfing in your area, you can check out one of the following amateur surfing associations: