How Surfing Improves Your Mental Health

29th November 2021

Surfing has long been used as a mode of recreation. However, there is more to it than the fun part. Mental health experts deem it a crossover activity that blends meditative experiences with physical exercises.


Studies show that surfing greatly improves the mental health of people. Various organizations such as Surfers Healing, The Wave Project, One Wave, Waves of Wellness Foundation, Waves For Change have been working hard to put surfing on the mental health agenda. Find out more on

Now, let us quickly look at the mental health issues that surfing helps with.


A recent study by NHS U.K states that regular exercise can reduce the frequency and intensity of depression by 30 percent or more. By that logic, the intensive sport that surfing is, it can act as an excellent anti-depressant.


The best part about surfing as an anti-depressant is that it does not have any side effects as most other medicines. While surfing, the body employs various muscles as you paddle and balance yourself on the surfboard. This helps in the development of core muscles that are imperative to improving your cardiovascular health.

This cardio element of surfing helps the body release endorphins which mitigates the effect of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. The curbing down of stress hormones is the reason you feel so relaxed and happy while you surf.


According to a report by the independent.UK, surfing is a very effective exercise for curing insomnia and inducing an overall positive feeling in a person. When you surf, the body uses a lot of its strength, leaving you to feel tired and exhausted.

This helps your mind and body to retire to sleep easily. It is the same logic by which you get an easy sleep after an intensive exercise session. As your surf, your body increases its temperature and then it drops. This drop in temperature is similar to the temperature change that happens before you fall asleep and hence it signals to your brain that it’s time to sleep.

In addition to that, being outdoors on the water induces the body to release melatonin hormones that can improve your sleep pattern and promote restful sleep.



Surfing is a complex sport that needs a lot of focus and practice. The feeling of riding on the high waves of the ocean can be very overwhelming. Therefore, regular surfing gently conditions the mind to autoregulate the tendency to panic in “fight or flight” situations.

This improves the body’s response to anxiety. It learns to fight that feeling smoothly. Cutting down the waves in the middle of the vast sea induces fear and a trace of fear that sets the adrenaline flowing is considered good as per experts.


The surfing sport turns fear into a manageable habit. Its Zen effect soothes the mind and balances your emotions that goes a long way in fighting anxiety issues.


At present, one in 68 children in the U.S is suffering from autism. Autism patients are very prone to anxiety attacks when the senses get overloaded. Surfing helps to mitigate its chances by enabling the patients to manage their environment.

It does so by diverting their attention from troubling thoughts to the tranquillity of the ocean. Another reason for it is that autistic kids tend to respond exceptionally well to a high-energy sport like surfing. This healing effect of surfing was first put to use by Izzy Paskowitz- a surfing legend in helping his son deal with the symptoms of autism.

Healy- the founder of a nonprofit surf therapy program in California called Surfing the Spectrum says that, “First of all, just the process of being on the board is very rhythmical, and that can be very comforting for a child. A lot of these kids like predictability. They like routine. And I think surfing is a nice activity for them because it is more or less the same every time.”


The vastness of the sea does wonders in modifying our general perception of problems in life. Just gazing at it transports you to a metaphysical realm where your problems and pains seem to appear insignificant.

A study based on the surfers of Manhattan Beach, California, found that riding waves for just 30 minutes increased positive feelings and reduced stress in people. This formed the basis of he Surf Therapy, which applies “flow theory” or the positive effects of being in the zone, to various mental health issues.


The thrill involved in the sport combined with the sound of the waves crashing has a very calming effect on the brain and helps it to reset. The sense of accomplishment from catching the wave and riding it to the end boosts self-esteem and triggers a flood of positive emotions.

Start Surfing Today

So now that you are acquainted with the mental health benefits of surfing, get started already. The best part about this water sport is that you feel the benefits just with a single bout.

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