Studies show that natural environments like beaches, waves and birds offer more health benefits than gyms, entertainment venues, and busy city environments. If you were wondering how you could combine all these elements into a fun activity for the whole family, wonder no more: surfing combines swimming, a strong core-muscle workout, fresh air and a real sense of well-being and accomplishment.
Besides the workout you’re getting in the water, simply walking barefoot on the beach uses twice as much energy as when walking on a hard surface. So there’s another reason for the whole family to join you, even if they’re not as keen to get their toes wet.
How does surfing give me a full body workout?
Surfing demands a combination of upper-body strength and cardio conditioning, as well as the obvious core stability work to keep you riding the wave for as long as possible.
Just like walking or hiking, you can decide how hard you want to surf or how easy you want to take it. Of course, often the waves have their own agenda – but look on the bright side: the more waves you paddle into, the more exercise you get to do. In fact, the average person burns around 400 calories an hour surfing. And while you might not notice how much you’re sweating, there’s no doubt you’ll be aware of how much fun you’re having!
Surfing busts stress levels too!
By focussing on the water and the waves, surfers are able to shift their attention away from every-day worries and focus more on the pure enjoyment of being active and at one with nature. Given the popularity of the sport and the significant physical and mental health benefits, it’s not surprising that surfing is now prescribed by medical professionals to treat depression. And hey, you don’t have to be the next surfing champion, just get out there and enjoy yourself.
How do I get started?
If you’re a beginner, there are plenty of surf schools who give lessons by the hour to people of all ages – and it often takes just one or two sessions to get the basics. Always remember, safety first: make sure that you surf at a beach with lifeguards, and if possible get someone who knows the ropes and water conditions to join you out in the water.
So get out there, it’ll become a passion.
Catch Dr Michael Mol and his guest presenters each Sunday on the Hello Doctor show, SABC2 @ 14:30.