Surfing is more than just a California lifestyle of beach bumming and hanging ten, says Cory R. Cole. The sport originated in Hawaii but quickly swept the globe after Hawaiian princes David Kawananakoa, Edward Keliʻiahonui, and Jonah Kūhiō Kalaniana’ole, surfed the San Lorenzo River in California in 1885. But the water sport didn’t reach the height of popularity until the 50s and 60s with the emergence of Elvis’s Blue Hawaii and the Beach Boys.
And this sometimes peaceful, sometimes grueling sport is popular for a reason says amateur surfer Cory R. Cole. It’s good for your body and your mind to get out on the water.
Surfing Strengthens Your Muscles and Your Balance, Says Cory R. Cole
Surfing is a full-body workout that exercises every major muscle group in your body. And because you’re using pure bodyweight–isometric exercise–your muscles become much more toned than if you were just lifting weights at the gym, says Cory R. Cole.
Surfing also requires major core strength to stay balanced and planted on the surfboard at so many angles and over the movement of the water. Engaging your core is how you’re able to stay in the loose squat position that gives you momentum while you ride the waves.
If Cory Cole were to suggest one off-board exercise to improve your surfing, he says it would be yoga because it improves your balance and focuses on moving your body as a whole instead of targeting specific muscles.
You have to be able to really feel the water’s movement and go with that flow when you’re surfing, says Cory R. Cole.
Surfing Improves Your Mental Health
Surfing isn’t just about performing amazing physical stunts. It’s also about a spiritual connection with the water. “Sometimes, in between waves, you just sit there on your board and look out at the water,” says Cory R. Cole. “It’s the most powerful de-stressor I’ve experienced in my life.”
Surfing is a combination of working out, swimming, playing, and being outside–all things that provide dopamine and serotonin, which are the feel-good chemicals. The more dopamine you have in your body, the less cortisol (stress hormone) can settle in your system and wreak havoc on your sleep cycle and general mental well-being.
As your surfing skills improve and your body adjusts, it’s likely you’ll get a surge of self-confidence and pride that are excellent for combatting stress and negative self-talk. You’ll also inevitably make new friends on the water or in the surf shops, and building a community around you is an amazing way to practice self-care.