Body and Mind: Health Benefits of Surfing
I am extremely excited to announce that today I am taking the plunge and committing to mastering a sport that I have long admired…surfing! And I couldn’t think of a better day for my board to be delivered as the sun is shining, there isn’t a cloud in the sky and the waves here are finally starting to take shape. My dad, who has been a dedicated surfer for several decades now, was kind enough to send me one of his collection of boards and I have been counting down to this day when it will finally arrive on my doorstep!
Having grown up in sunny Southern California, I was part of a community where surfing was more like a religion than a sport. I remember salt water pouring out of the noses of my classmates during high school and digging urchin spines out of many feet during my days working at the school nurses office. I always admired those passionate followers that braved the frigid water and foggy mornings in the middle of winter in the hopes of catching that perfect wave. And now I am proud to claim my place among them.
There are many reasons why I am excited to dive in to the waves, most notably the fact that it will get me into great shape for summer. It is no surprise that all of the paddling and swimming involved builds great upper body muscle tone and core strength. I will also burn roughly 200 calories per hour according to the Glamour health calculator.
But there are many other benefits gained from surfing that extend beyond just the physical realm. In fact, some of the most powerful positive results are the psychological impacts of surfing. All of the surfers I have known throughout my life have always shared the same sunny disposition, positive outlook on life and quiet calm confidence. And after doing a little research, I found out why.
A study presented at the American Psychological Association in 2010 by doctoral student Ryan Pittsinger showed that 30 minutes of surfing showed a dramatic increase in positive feelings and reduction in negative emotions and fatigue.
In the same study, Pittsinger documented overwhelming responses of tranquility and calmness. Much like yoga, surfing keeps the mind focused completely in the present moment which helps surfers achieve a zen-like meditative state.
Surfing is used as “ocean therapy” through a program offered by the Jimmy Miller Foundation for at-risk children as a way to increase their self-confidence and build self-efficacy. The Foundation also works with the Wounded Warrior Program to help veterans presented with physical and emotional challenges use ocean therapy to help with their recovery.
Anyone have any tips for this new surfer girl?! I would be so grateful for you to share them with me in the comments box!!!