Is Surfing a Good Workout for Achieving Better Health and Fitness?

Is surfing a good workout? Well, let me tell you, I think it is. I mean, have you ever seen a surfer’s body? Those guys and gals are absolutely ripped. And it’s not just their arms and shoulders that are toned, their entire body is in tip-top shape. But is it only the physical aspect that makes surfing a good workout? I don’t think so. There’s something about being out on the water, feeling the power of the waves beneath you, that makes surfing an incredibly energizing and invigorating experience.

When you’re surfing, you’re not just using your muscles to paddle out into the waves or to pop up onto your board. You’re engaging your core, your legs, and even your mind as you navigate the constantly changing conditions of the ocean. And let’s not forget the cardiovascular benefits – surfing is a full-body workout that gets your heart pumping and your blood flowing. It’s no wonder that professional surfers are some of the fittest athletes around, and why surfing has gained a reputation as an excellent way to stay in shape.

So, is surfing a good workout? Absolutely. But it’s more than just a physical exercise – it’s a mental and emotional one too. I’ve never felt more alive than when I’m out in the water, catching waves and feeling the rush of adrenaline. And I think that’s what sets surfing apart from other forms of exercise – it’s not just about getting fit, it’s about connecting with nature and experiencing the thrill of the ride.

Health Benefits of Surfing

Surfing is definitely a fun activity, but it also provides a variety of health benefits to both the body and mind. Here are some of the key health benefits of surfing to keep in mind:

  • Full-Body Workout: Surfing can provide a full-body workout due to the multitude of muscle groups that are used while paddling and riding waves. The core, arms, shoulders, back, and legs are all engaged during a typical surfing session.
  • Cardiovascular Exercise: Paddling against the current and swimming out to catch a wave provides a great cardiovascular workout for the heart and lungs. Consistent surfing can significantly improve overall cardiovascular health.
  • Low-Impact Exercise: Unlike high-impact activities like running or jumping, surfing is a relatively low-impact exercise due to the buoyancy of the water. This makes it a great option for those with joint pain or injuries.

In addition to physical health benefits, surfing also has positive effects on mental health:

  • Stress Relief: The calming nature of the ocean, combined with the adrenaline rush of surfing, can be a great way to relieve stress and improve mental health. Being in the water has been shown to promote feelings of relaxation and well-being.
  • Mental Focus: Surfing requires a great deal of focus and concentration, which can help improve mental clarity and focus in daily life as well.
  • Connection to Nature: Spending time in nature has been shown to have significant mental health benefits, and surfing is a great way to connect with the natural world.

Surfing vs. Other Forms of Exercise

When it comes to exercising, most people immediately think of running or hitting the gym. But have you considered surfing as a workout? Not only is it a fun activity, but it can also be a great form of exercise. Here’s how it stacks up against other forms of exercise:

  • Cardiovascular Endurance: Surfing is a great way to improve your cardiovascular endurance. Paddling out to the waves and catching them requires a lot of energy and stamina. This is similar to running, which is also great for cardiovascular endurance.
  • Upper Body Strength: Surfing requires a lot of upper body strength as you will be using your arms to paddle and push up off the board. This is similar to weight lifting and can help tone your arms, chest, and back muscles.
  • Balance and Coordination: Surfing requires a lot of balance and coordination, which can be a great way to improve these skills. This is similar to yoga and Pilates, which focus on balance and control.

Overall, surfing can be a great addition to your workout routine. It offers a unique combination of cardio, strength training, and balance and coordination that you won’t find in many other activities.

However, it’s important to note that surfing may not be suitable for everyone. If you have any medical conditions or injuries that affect your ability to swim or be in the water, it’s best to consult with a doctor first. Additionally, it’s important to practice safety measures such as wearing a wetsuit, using a leash, and surfing only in designated areas.

If you’re looking for a fun and challenging workout that has numerous physical and mental benefits, consider giving surfing a try.

Muscles Worked During Surfing

Surfing is a full-body workout that engages many different muscle groups. Maintaining balance and stability on the board requires core strength, while paddling and catching waves challenge the upper body and lower body muscles. Here are the main muscles worked during surfing:

  • Core Muscles: The muscles of the abdomen, lower back, and hips are essential for stabilizing the body on the board. They help to maintain balance while riding waves, and support the body during paddling and waiting for waves.
  • Arm and Shoulder Muscles: Paddling involves the use of the arms and shoulders, primarily the deltoids, triceps, and biceps. These muscles are responsible for propelling the body forward and keeping the board on track.
  • Back Muscles: The muscles in the upper and lower back are heavily engaged during paddling and riding waves. These muscles, including the lats and rhomboids, help to maintain posture and stability on the board.
  • Leg Muscles: Standing up on the board requires significant lower body strength, especially in the quads, glutes, and calves. These muscles help to support the body weight and maintain balance while riding waves.

The Benefits of Surfing as a Workout

Beyond the specific muscles worked during surfing, this sport offers a range of benefits as a full-body workout. Here are some of the advantages:

  • Cardiovascular Health: Surfing can get your heart pumping and help to improve overall cardiovascular health.
  • Strength and Endurance: Regular surfing can improve muscular strength and endurance, as well as bone density and joint health.
  • Mental Health: The mental focus required for surfing, along with the calming effects of nature, can help to reduce stress and boost mental wellbeing.

Sample Muscles Worked During Surfing Table

Muscle Group Primary Muscles Secondary Muscles
Core Muscles Rectus Abdominis, Transverse Abdominis, Erector Spinae, Gluteus Maximus Obliques, Quadratus Lumborum, Tensor Fasciae Latae
Arm and Shoulder Muscles Deltoids, Triceps, Biceps Brachii Trapezius, Rhomboids, Serratus Anterior
Back Muscles Lats, Rhomboids, Erector Spinae, Trapezius Obliques, Quadratus Lumborum
Leg Muscles Quadriceps, Glutes, Calves Hamstrings, Adductors, Abductors

This table provides a snapshot of some of the primary and secondary muscles worked during surfing, but keep in mind that surfing engages the whole body in a dynamic and constantly changing way.

Surfing for Weight Loss

Surfing is not only a fun outdoor activity, but it can also be an effective workout for weight loss. Here’s why:

  • Surfing requires constant paddling, which works out your shoulder, back, and arm muscles.
  • Standing up on the board engages your glutes, quadriceps, and core muscles.
  • Constantly balancing on the board strengthens your lower body muscles and enhances stability.

According to a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, just one hour of surfing can burn between 300-500 calories, depending on the person’s weight and surfing intensity.

Not only does surfing provide a full-body workout, but it also has mental health benefits. Being in the ocean and riding the waves can reduce stress, improve mood, and boost cognitive function.

Benefits of Surfing for Weight Loss
Burns calories and fat Strengthens muscles
Improves cardiovascular health Enhances balance and stability
Reduces stress and improves mood Boosts cognitive function

Overall, surfing is an excellent option for those looking to lose weight while also enjoying the outdoors and improving their mental health.

Responsible Surfing Practices for Fitness

Surfing can be a great workout that combines cardiovascular exercise and strength training. It is an excellent way to improve your overall fitness and stay in shape. However, it is important to practice responsible surfing practices for your safety and the safety of others. Here are some tips for responsible surfing practices for fitness:

  • Always wear a leash attached to your ankle to keep your board close to you. This will prevent your board from hitting someone else and injuring them, and it will also prevent you from having to swim long distances to retrieve your board.
  • Be mindful of other surfers in the water. Give them space and respect their right of way. Avoid any sudden movements, and always communicate with other surfers if you are going to paddle for a wave.
  • Learn how to read the waves and surf conditions. This will help you avoid dangerous situations and stay safe in the water. Always check the weather and surf forecasts before heading out.

Additionally, it is essential to be physically prepared before surfing. It is a physically demanding sport that requires strength, balance, and agility. Here are some tips for preparing your fitness for surfing:

  • Incorporate strength and endurance training into your workout routine. Focus on exercises like lunges, squats, and push-ups to build strength and stability in your legs and upper body.
  • Work on your balance and flexibility through exercises like yoga or Pilates. This will help you maintain stability on your board and prevent injuries.
  • Don’t forget to warm-up and stretch before hitting the waves. This will help prevent muscle strains and injuries. Focus on stretching your hamstrings, quads, and hip flexors.

Lastly, it’s important to fuel your body properly for a surfing workout. Surfing is a high-energy activity that requires a lot of calories to burn. Make sure you eat enough nutritious foods before and after your session. It’s also essential to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water before, during, and after your workout.

Food for Surf Fitness Reason for inclusion in diet
Quinoa Rich in protein and complex carbohydrates which provide sustained energy
Sweet potatoes Good source of carbohydrates and vitamin A which is important for eye health in the water
Salmon A good source of omega-3 fatty acids that provide anti-inflammatory benefits to help reduce soreness and joint pain
Avocado Contains healthy fats essential for proper brain function and hormone production

By practicing responsible surfing practices and incorporating a proper fitness routine and diet, surfing can be an extremely effective workout for improving your overall fitness levels.

Surfing injuries and prevention

Surfing is a thrilling sport that not only offers a great experience but also an excellent workout. However, like any sport, surfing involves some risks, and one of the most common risks associated with this sport is injuries. Here are some of the common injuries that surfers face, and how to prevent them:

  • Cuts and Lacerations: While surfing, you are more likely to experience cuts and lacerations caused by sharp rocks, coral, or even the fins on your surfboard. To prevent this, always wear a wetsuit, and consider wearing protective gear like booties and gloves.
  • Sunburn and Skin Damage: Surfing is done under the sun, so skin damage is a common occurrence. To avoid sunburn or skin damage, always wear sunscreen and reapply frequently. Also, consider wearing a rash guard to protect your skin from the sun and from rubbing against the wax on your surfboard.
  • Shoulder Injuries: Surfing involves a lot of paddling, which puts a lot of strain on your shoulders. This can cause injuries like rotator cuff strains or impingement. To prevent this, make sure you have good posture while paddling and avoid overexerting your shoulders.

Stretches to prevent surfing injuries

Aside from taking preventive measures, it is also essential to keep your body in good shape to prevent injuries. Here are some stretches specifically designed for surfers:

  • Child’s Pose: Start on your hands and knees, then lower your hips back towards your heels. Stretch your arms forward and relax your forehead on the mat. This pose stretches the hips, thighs, and ankles, which can help relieve lower back pain.
  • Side Bend: Stand with your feet hip-distance apart and your arms by your side. Take your right arm up overhead, then bend to the left, keeping both feet grounded. Repeat on the other side. This stretch lengthens the sides of your body and helps improve flexibility.
  • Thread The Needle: Start on your hands and knees and reach your left arm under your body to the right. Rotate your left shoulder to the ground, then relax your forehead on your right hand. This stretch targets the shoulders, upper back, and neck, which can help prevent injuries while paddling.

Importance of Warming Up

Before hitting the waves, it is essential to warm up your muscles to prevent injuries. A proper warm-up routine should include dynamic stretches that mimic the movements of surfing. Here are some warm-up exercises that you can do before surfing:

  • Arm Circles: Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, and your arms stretched out to the sides. Begin circling your arms in small circles, gradually making them bigger and bigger. Do this for ten reps in each direction.
  • Leg Swings: Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, holding onto a wall or a chair for balance. Swing one leg forward and back, then sideways. Repeat on the other leg.
  • Jumping Jacks: Stand with your feet together, arms at your sides. Jump up, spread your arms and legs apart, then land back in the starting position. Do this for ten reps.


Injury Prevention
Cuts and Lacerations Wear a wetsuit and protective gear.
Sunburn and Skin Damage Wear sunscreen and rash guard.
Shoulder Injuries Maintain proper posture and avoid overexertion.

Surfing is an excellent way to stay fit, but it is crucial to take the necessary precautions to prevent injuries. By following the preventive measures mentioned above, you can enjoy surfing without worrying about injuries.

The Mental Benefits of Surfing

Surfing is not just a physical workout. It offers a myriad of mental benefits that often go unnoticed. Here are some of the mental perks of surfing:

  • Reducing stress levels: Surfing requires full concentration, which can help to clear your mind and eliminate stress. Research has shown that spending time in the water also helps to reduce the stress hormone cortisol, making surfing an effective stress-reliever.
  • Bolstering self-confidence: Surfing is a challenging sport that requires guts, determination, and patience. When you catch your first wave or improve your technique, you will feel a sense of accomplishment that can boost your self-esteem and confidence.
  • Promoting mindfulness: Surfing requires you to tune into your senses and focus on the present moment. This mindfulness practice can have positive effects on your mental and physical health and is an essential skill for managing stress and anxiety.

Moreover, surfing can have a positive impact on mental health and well-being. A study conducted in the UK found that surfing is connected with higher levels of self-esteem, life satisfaction, and happiness. Additionally, surf therapy programs that use surfing as a therapeutic tool have shown promising results in treating mental health issues such as depression, PTSD, and anxiety.

Surfing is more than just a physical activity; it is a holistic experience that can improve your mental fortitude and well-being. So next time you hit the waves, pay attention to the mental benefits you are reaping along with the physical ones.

Is Surfing a Good Workout FAQs

  • Is Surfing a good way to lose weight?
    Yes, it is. Surfing can create a high-intensity workout that helps to burn calories, especially when you paddle and ride the waves. Besides, surfing can make your core muscles stronger and your posture better, which leads to a fitter and healthier body.
  • What muscles do you use when surfing?
    Surfing engages your core, arms, shoulders, and almost every muscle group in your body. It requires you to paddle, balance, and move your body, which helps to tone your muscles and increase your endurance.
  • How many calories does surfing burn?
    The number of calories burned when surfing depends on various factors such as your body weight, water temperature, wave height, and intensity of activities. In general, surfing can burn up to 400 to 500 calories an hour.
  • Can surfing help to reduce stress?
    Surfing involves being in the ocean and enjoying the natural environment, which can have a calming effect and reduce stress levels. Moreover, physical exercise releases endorphins, which are the body’s natural feel-good chemicals, and can enhance the mood.
  • Is surfing safe for everyone?
    Surfing can be a dangerous sport if you’re not experienced or don’t have the proper equipment. It’s essential to take lessons from a qualified instructor, wear a wetsuit and a leash, and surf in a safe area with lifeguards around if possible. Moreover, consult with your physician first if you have any underlying health conditions before trying any new physical activity.
  • What are the benefits of surfing?
    Surfing provides endless opportunities to improve your physical and mental health, including cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, balance, coordination, agility, and sense of wellbeing. Besides, surfing can give you a sense of achievement and connectedness to nature, which can enhance your quality of life.


Thank you for reading about the FAQs related towhether surfing is a good workout. Surfing is a fantastic way to challenge your body and mind and achieve your fitness goals. However, it’s essential to take safety precautions and consult with your physician before starting a new physical activity. We hope you enjoyed this article and visit us again soon for more exciting insights. Surf’s up!