Can Surfing Help You Reduce Stress? Find out the Surf Benefits!

Can Surfing Help You Reduce Stress? Find out the Surf Benefits!

Paddling, balancing, popping up…surfing is a full-body workout. But it’s not just your body that benefits from surfing. Studies show that surfing could be as good for your mind as it is for your body. From stress reduction to better sleep, surf benefits the body, mind, and soul!

The physical health benefits of surfing are obvious. Paddling strengthens core muscles and is a great cardiovascular workout. Balancing on the board improves your coordination and flexes muscles that don’t normally get a lot of use. Finally, the act of popping up on the board strengthens the entire lower body. While the physical health surf benefits are clear, the mental and psychological benefits are less defined. Below are a few examples of the stress-relieving benefits of surfing.

surf benefits

Happy Hormones

Doing something you enjoy releases stress-fighting hormones such as dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins. Combine your fondness for being out on the waves in the sunshine with a strenuous activity such as surfing and you will be practically drowning in these feel-good hormones. Not only do these feel-good hormones make you, well, feel good…they also help to block the neurotransmitters that cause stress and anxiety, such as cortisol.

While all physical activity helps battle depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders, surfing may be considered one of the best. The part of our brain responsible for our moods responds even better to physical activity that involves risk and reward in a changing environment. This describes surfing to a tee!

Mindful Meditation

No phone, no computer, no tv, and no distractions. Being in the ocean alone with your surfboard induces a mindful meditation state. We are immersed in nature and the moment. Being in the ocean sharpens your senses so you notice every sight, smell, and sound. This is essentially what mindful meditation is all about. This state of presence allows us to connect to the here and now, something that is difficult to achieve in our modern world, which is full of distractions.

surf benefits

Practicing mindful meditation is said to not only lower stress, but to boost our cognitive abilities, and improve our emotional regulation. Research even shows that mindful meditation can change the functioning of our brain, allowing us to overcome stressful situations more easily.

Overcome Fear

One of the biggest fears for most beginner surfers to overcome is their fear of the ocean. With only 20 percent of the ocean explored, it is natural to fear this vast and mysterious force. 

Fear can keep us safe, but overcoming our fear has its benefits, too. We often think that things will be worse than they actually are. Stress is usually induced by our thoughts. We concentrate on our fears so much that we cause our body and mind to produce those stress neurotransmitters we discussed earlier. When we take action against our fear, like stepping out into the waves, we can shut down our fear-based thoughts. Having things turn out better than we thought they would help make it easier to face our fears next time and stops the fear-based thinking in its tracks.

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Confidence Boost

Overcoming your fear of the ocean and waves will help you build confidence, which will, in turn, improve your self-esteem. After all, how we feel about ourselves has a major impact on our mental health.

You may see surfers shredding major waves and think “I will never be able to do that”. But there was a time that they couldn’t do that either! Every surfer started as a beginner surfer and gradually got better with practice. And you will, too! So don’t beat yourself up. Hop on your board and give it a try. Eventually, you will be popping up on your surfboard and riding a wave. Surfing takes patience, perseverance, and determination. Discovering these qualities in yourself will give your confidence the boost it needs.

Nature Binge

Nothing fully immerses you in nature quite like surfing. In fact, our full immersion in the ocean stimulates something called the Mammalian Dive Reflex. When we are submerged in water, a physiological response takes place in our bodies that put us into a fish-like state. Our heart rate slows down, all of our blood flows to our vital organs, and a state of calmness kicks in. This response draws on millions of years of evolution and exists in all mammals, helping them survive and strive underwater. 

surf benefits

And as it turns out, being in nature just makes us feel good. Scientists claim these mood enhancements go even further when we are in the presence of water. Millions of years of evolution can’t be wrong!

Vitamin Sea 

Beyond the physical activity of surfing, there are other physical attributes to surfing that are beneficial to our mental health. A day out on the surf will expose us to a lot of sunlight. This is why it is important to wear the proper sunblock and cover up where you can. But a lack of Vitamin D can mimic the signs of depression, including mood changes, sadness, anxiety, and trouble sleeping.

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Another health benefit of being in the ocean is absorbing natural magnesium, which assists in the activation of Vitamin D in your body. Magnesium is a mineral that can help your muscles to relax, so you don’t have your shoulders tensed up by your ears during stressful moments. Magnesium also helps treat insomnia, which can have a major impact on your mental health. When you don’t get enough rest, it is hard to cope with difficult situations or life in general.

Tribe Vibe

In our ever-more segregated world, it is becoming harder and harder to connect with others. But as social creatures, we must feel connected to thrive. Finding an activity such as surfing that brings together like-minded people is very good for your mental health. 

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The need to belong to a community or “tribe” is deeply ingrained in our psyche. Not only does feeling as though we belong to a group help us to feel less lonely, but it can also give us a sense of purpose as we pursue common goals and support from people who “get” how we feel. Studies show feeling connected boosts not only our emotional well-being but our quality of life.

You can go anywhere in the world and connect with another surfer. Trust us! We’ve seen folks from all over the world connect over surfing at our Tamarindo Costa Rica surf camp.

Start Surfing

Now that you can see all of the surf benefits, it is time to hop on a board and get surfing! Commune with nature, overcome your fears, and get connected at the best Costa Rica surf camp. Iguana Surf is located right in front of the main surf break in Tamarindo Beach Costa Rica. It is one of the world’s best places to learn how to surf thanks to its warm water, mellow waves, and soft sand landing.

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With more than 25 years of helping beginner surfers gain confidence in the water and on a surfboard, we know Iguana Surf is the best surf camp in Costa Rica to help guide you toward a newfound sense of self-esteem and inner peace.

Take a deep breath. Hold it. Release with a sigh. And join us!


Written by Jennifer LaCharite


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