I have an unquenchable love for surfing. I don’t live by the beach, and suffer from deep, frequent longings to grab my board and paddle out for some waves. These longings seem disproportionate to me, why do I love surfing so much?First off, I’m not very good at it, and my enjoyment in surfing doesn’t seem to be weather or wave conditions related. I once spent a glorious 3 hours surfing jumbled 2ft lines in the pouring rain in Central FL. Just paddling out in those conditions is strange behavior, but enjoying yourself? That is just plain crazy.
I do however have a hypothesis, I believe some deep biological voice is beckoning me back to the ocean. There are tremendous health benefits from going surfing, health benefits that go far beyond just getting a “good workout.” Certainly, surfing will give you that; but the cardio from fighting the waves doesn’t even begin to explain my own biological magnetism to the sun and waves. So here is my hypothesis, there are around five incredible health benefits of surfing. These benefits make the very cells of my being jump for joy. This causes my body and cells to signal to my brain to go back for more!
I’ve outlined these health inducing components for you here. Bear in mind, this is list very one dimensional, it doesn’t address the social, mental, and spiritual aspects of surfing, only the benefits of your physical body.
1. Grounding: Grounding/earthing is the idea that physically absorbing the electical charges from the earth is beneficial to the body. By reconnecting to the earth, you are realigning your electrical energies. (Sounds “woo” and “hand wavy,” but there is some good research on this) Walking on the sand barefoot, and swimming in the ocean both accomplish this. Earthing has been shown to reduce inflammation, lower pain, reduce stress, promote healthy sleep, and lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
2. Cold Thermogenisis: Cold thermogenesis (in short) is your body burning fat in order to keep you warm. This has a host of benefits that even go beyond fat loss. Cold thermogenesis increases endorphins, improves metabolism, improves circulation, and has even been shown to improve immune response. The benefits of cold immersion are vast, making an excuse to get in cold water a major upside of surfing.
3. Mineral Uptake (Salt Water): Salt water is extremely mineral rich, magnesium, zinc, iron, and potassium all can be absorbed by a dip in the sea. This perfect profile of minerals matches the profile of our body’s unique mineral needs.
4. Body Mechanics: We spend so much time sitting down, and looking down. Sitting in an office chair, couch, and car seat; looking at a computer, smartphone, and tv. Laying on your stomach paddling in the surf is the inverse of those damaging body postures. Surfing is almost tailor made to undo the damages of office life on our posture and overall body mechanics.
5. Physical Exercise (duh): Surfing will increase VO2 max, improve flexibility, burn calories, build lean muscle, and accomplish what even the best gym workouts can not. All without fluorescent lights, EMF’s, greasy dumbbells, or instagram mirror selfies.
So there you have it, five great reasons to get in the water even if conditions aren’t perfect or the drive to the beach is long. Maybe it makes some sense out of your own surfing obsession, or maybe its time to get a surf lesson and try the sport for the first time. I hope this encourages you that time spent in the ocean is not misused or frivolous, and you may be stewarding your body better by making surfing a priority.