For centuries humans have raved on and on about how important physical activity is, even then most of us live the lives of couch potatoes. But does all physical activity have the same effects on your body? Maybe not. Going to the gym might help strengthen muscles and help you look good, but it does not have as much of an impact on mental health as playing a sport does. While playing sports, not only is your body engaged in the activity but so is your mind. From what I’ve personally noticed while going to the gym, the only thing going on in my head is counting which rep I’m on.
Surfing, stand up paddling and kayaking are such immersive sports, they require the complete attention of your mind and full usage of your body in order to effectively master them. Having lived mostly a sedentary lifestyle (other than the occasional trip to the gym), I noticed the changes in my body once I started surfing almost immediately. These sports, I’ve realised not only have a positive impact on your physical health but your mental health as well.
Physical Benefits Of Surfing –
1. Full body workout:
It never struck me as odd before that I’d never seen a “fat” or unfit surfer. These sports cause intense muscle toning and building.
a. Cardiovascular fitness – the constant movement required of the body during these sports keeps your heart and lungs in top condition.
b. Shoulder and back strength – paddling is an essential part of surfing, if you can’t paddle you can’t catch your own waves. So this not only uses your arm strength, but involves the muscles in your back and shoulders as well.
c. Leg and core strength – once you paddle and have caught your wave, you stand up on your board and then try controlling the board. This requires core and leg strength so you can keep your balance on the board once you catch your wave.
2. Improved balance:
Most water sports involve some form of balancing or the other. It does not matter that you have two left feet and cannot walk a straight line, if you start trying to learn these sports your balance automatically improves.
3. Increased endurance
5. Low impact sport
SUP and kayaking are low impact sports that still require the use of your whole body. Runners that are experiencing shin splints or knee and hip pain, yet still need a good exercise while healing, learn and practice this sport.
6. Better sleep
7. More energy
Everyone knows how the mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cells. Ever wondered what this “power” is used for? Turns out we use this energy for our daily activities. So the more mitochondria produced, the more amount of energy we have. But our body only produces just enough mitochondria, but the more active our lifestyle the more mitochondria production. This is why people with more active lifestyles seem to have more energy than people who follow a sedentary lifestyle.
Mental Benefits Of Surfing
Not including the endorphins released by our brains during physical activity, surfing, kayaking and SUPing have many more mental health benefits as well.
1. It’s a great way of releasing stress. While surfing, we are forced to be in the moment and experience what is happening now. This makes us momentarily forget the pressures of life and just enjoy the moment.
2. The day and age we live in, we never have the time to go out and just connect with the nature that surrounds us. These sports give us an opportunity to connect with nature.
3. Seawater has healing and restorative properties, which is proven with the usage of thalassotherapy.
4. Constant exposure to sunlight causes the production of vitamin D in your body, which in turn causes the secretion of serotonin and melatonin.
5. SUPing and kayaking are peaceful and can have a meditative effect, while surfing gives an adrenaline rush and this feeling of exhilaration.
6. The time, commitment and perseverance required to perform and master these sports make a person feel self-gratified. It is not easy to learn them, but the sense of accomplishment after makes the person feel like they are capable of achieving almost anything if they set their mind to it. In a way, it builds confidence as well.
So if this hasn’t convinced you to try surfing yet, I don’t know what will!