Can surfing help you lose weight?

Yes, surfing regularly can help burn excess fat and calories when combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle. It’s generally considered much more enjoyable than going to the gym so you’re much more likely to maintain it than a traditional exercise program.

We’ve all dreamed of gliding along crystal clear waves with a setting sun in the background but did you know surfing actually a fantastic way to keep fit and healthy?

We’ve compiled a helpful guide that finally answers the question ‘can surfing help you lose weight?’. We’ll take a look at how surfing helps you lose weight, the muscles you’ll build over time and everything else in between.

How does surfing help you lose weight?

Surfing is a high-intensity exercise that requires your body to burn calories, if you consume fewer calories than you burn you will be in a calorie deficit causing you to lose weight.

Surfing helps you burn calories

To put it bluntly, surfing is a great way to burn calories and lose weight. Depending on your wave height and wind direction, you can expect to burn anywhere from 200-700 calories in a single hour of surfing!

Just getting your wetsuit on and walking down to the shore can be a challenge if you’re new to surfing or just starting to improve your fitness.

Head over to our guide on how many calories you burn surfing to understand the effect different conditions have on your calorie consumption while surfing.

It’s important to note that your goal should always be to maintain a healthy body and mind and the old-time idea of ‘losing weight’ should be replaced with getting healthy. We all have very different body types and shapes and that means our goals for achieving a healthy lifestyle will vary.

Surfing builds muscle

Surfing is a full-body workout that builds lean muscle across your whole body. If you surf regularly you can expect to see muscle growth and additional strength all across your body including:

  • Legs
  • Arms
  • Back
  • Core

The paddling motion is one of the most effective ways you can improve muscle tone, especially in the arms and shoulders. It’s a repetitive exercise that combines cardio and strength training into one continuous (if you’ve got the fitness and strength for it) motion.

Indirect ways surfing helps you lose weight

Even though losing weight and getting healthy is mainly down to how many calories you burn, the mindset required to build a consistent routine is the key to achieving your goals.

Getting out into the ocean and surfing can change how you think and how you behave in ways you don’t even realise. From getting up at 5 am for a dawn surf to avoid the crowds, to peeling back on a sandy, cold wetsuit just to make the most of a pumping swell, a passion for surfing can transform your fitness.

Exploring the coast is great for your mental health and your mindset when trying to lose weight

Part of the spirit of surfing is exploring the coast on an endless journey of discovery. Having goals like surfing new waves and finding new surf spots are all very healthy goals both physically and mentally.

By pursuing and achieving you’ll quickly build up a healthy pattern of behaviours that’ll help you with your weight loss and likely your entire life.

A hard day of surfing is normally followed by a good night’s sleep

Sleeping well is more than a luxury, it’s a necessity for staying healthy. Your body uses sleep to repair and rebuild itself, don’t get enough, your body won’t be able to function properly.

When you’re sleep deprived (which most of us are), your body releases cortisol—a hormone that can cause weight gain. Cortisol also increases appetite and hunger, so if you’re feeling tired and hungry all the time, it’s probably because you’re not getting enough sleep.

Sleep also affects hormones that are important for weight control. For example, people who don’t get enough sleep have higher levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates hunger. On the other hand, people who get sufficient sleep have lower levels of leptin, a hormone that tells your brain when you’ve had enough food and should stop eating.

A day spent on the beach, in and out of the waves is one of the best ways to assure a great night’s sleep. Make sure to have a healthy meal rich in protein and you’ll be set for a night of sweet dreams and muscle recovery after a day of hard surfing.

Our tips to help you lose weight by surfing

If we’ve convinced you to take up surfing to try and make some healthy changes in your life then well done you!

But you’re not quite done yet.

Here are some sure-fire tips to keep your surfing on track.

Head out on small, offshore days

Unless you’re an absolute shredder then the conditions you surf in play a direct factor in how much fun you’re having. Try to paddle out when it’s 10ft and onshore and you’ll probably have a bad time and end up back on the beach in no time.

How can surfing help you lose weight if you get out after 5 minutes? Well, it can’t.

Aim for small fun conditions that will let you stay out in the surf for a good session, ideally 2+ hours. That’ll make for a long enough surf to get your fitness fix and leave you itching to get back in the waves as soon as possible.

Join a surf club or go with friends

Joining your local surf club or heading surfing with a group of friends is a get way to stay motivated when you’re tyring to lose weight and get healthier.

You can hold each other accountable and build a great social circle that revolves around surfing and a healthy lifestyle.

Embrace a healthy diet

Exercise is one factor when it comes to losing weight but diet is equally as important. How can surfing help you lose weight if you’re diet is calorific at every turn?

I’m not going to start recommending diets for a second but eating a healthy, natural range of foods including lots of fruit and veg is always a winner.

Train to improve your surfing (frame it as improving surfing not losing weight)

Try to focus your efforts on improving your surfing rather than losing weight. The goal of performing a better cut back or snap is infinitely more attractive than losing a few kg and you’re much more likely to stick with it if the end result is surfing better.

Consider a surf-specific fitness programme

Why not get fit by following carefully planned workouts designed to improve your paddle power, balance and surfing skills?

Well now you can, organisations like OMBE Surf and Surf Strength Coach have made it their mission to help surfers of all abilities improve their surfing with carefully planned virtual coaching.

Both offer free introductory courses so you can always try them before you buy.

Live the beach life

If you really want to get healthy fast then embracing the beach lifestyle is a great start. Instead of disappearing in a trail of exhaust fumes after your next surf, take some time to enjoy the beach, go for a quick coastal walk and appreciate your surroundings.

Not only will this burn more post-surf calories but it’ll put you in a great headspace to tackle your next challenges, physical or mental.

Conclusion

So to answer the question can surfing help you lose weight?

Yes, surfing is one of the best ways to lose weight, stay healthy and most importantly stick with it. Create a change in your life that resets your goals and aligns having fun with staying healthy and you’ll be losing weight before you know it!