Surfing is a thrilling water sport, but to some it’s more than just a sport – it’s a lifestyle.
Whether you’re riding of waves off the shores of the bright sandy beaches in California or the Island of Tarkwa Bay in Lagos, finding your balance and keeping upright or in prone position while battling the waters sent by Mami Wata is the exciting fitness hobby bubbling up in Lagos, and we are totally up for it!
The basic gear for a wave rider or surfer is a surfboard and well fitting wetsuit. Waves suitable or surfing areprimarily found in the ocean, but can also be found in lakes or rivers, or even man-made waves, with the aid of recent technology.
Modern surfboards are made of polyurethane or polystyrene foam covered with layers of fiber glass cloth,and polyester or epoxy resin.The result is a light and strong surfboard that is buoyant and maneuverable.
A little background on Surfing.
Surfing originated in pre-modern Hawaii and Polynesia, and has evolved over the years to a popular sport with its own culture. The highest governing body for surfing is the International Surfing Association (ISA), and according to this association, there are between 20 and 25 million surfers worldwide, and the surf industry is worth around $15 billion. In recent times, surfing has been approved as an Olympic sport, to be played at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Surfing is a sport with many interpretations. For many, it’s a recreational activity and a competitive sport. For others, it is a lifestyle. It's considered dynamic and accessible, easy to learn, for both children and adults.
There are numerous health benefits associated with the sport. Surfing is associated with cardiovascular and heart health. Blood circulation is greatly improved as the heart works harder in pumping blood to supply the body with oxygen. This strengthens the cardiovascular system, improving shortness of breath and fatigue. Let’s not forget the Vitamin D effect, as this vitamin is produced from being out in the sun, and is essential for the development of strong bones. Swimming and paddling involved with surfing adds another aspect of physical activity, leading to increased muscular development and strength, particularly in the arms, shoulders and chest.
The health benefits just don’t stop at the physical level! There are mental health benefits too!
The world we live in today is characterized by its high-stress-low-reward attributes. Surfing involves extended physical exertion, causing the release of chemicals in the body, known as endorphins. These endorphins produce a sense of euphoria, giving surfers a more laid back attitude towards life, and reducing mental stress, which is immensely beneficial. This sense of euphoria in surf-speak is called stoke. Surfers are generally happy people! A study by the California State University in 2010 focused on the relationship between surfing and the prevention of stress and depression concluded that surfers feel a deeper sense of tranquility, which is a great psychological benefit.
Surfing increases flexibility and improves balance, thus preventing injuries both on and off the surfboard. It also helps increase mental alertness and sharpness. A surfer has to be mentally aware of his surroundings, as conditions when riding a wave can change in a blink of an eye, and he must be able to adapt to these constantly changing situations.
So what are you waiting for? There are immense physical and mental benefits that can be derived from surfing. Grab aboard, catch some waves, and figure out the rewards or yourself. You’ll be stoked!
Oluchi Agba is a final year student of Pharmacology, at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos. She is concerned about emerging health issues and is passionate about helping people reach their health goals. She enjoys reading mystery novels, taking long, quiet walks, and keeping up with the latest news in medicine and health.