Learning to surf isn’t about relaxing on a beach, driving a VW campervan and listening to the beach boys- it’s actually an incredibly tough physical challenge that offers huge benefits for your all-round health and fitness.
If you’re looking to stay fit and active in your 50s, surfing will do just that.
It takes practice to perfect, but once you’ve got the hang of it, surfing often becomes a lifestyle hobby. Weekends and holidays become the platform for finding the next perfect wave to surf.
For over 50s, activities like surfing, skiing, kayaking and other outdoor hobbies are a fantastic way to keep fit, learn a new skill, meet new people and have a great time in the process.
With plenty of beaches and spots around the world offering amazing surfing, its an activity that is likely to spark travel and adventure.
For those looking to make the most out of every moment, surfing is not to be ignored!
Health and Fitness Benefits of Surfing
Surfing is a great activity for anyone looking to improve their overall health and fitness. 50 is certainly not too old to get started, so there are no excuses for not giving it a go. Some clear benefits include:
Spending time outside in the great outdoors is proven to have a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing. The social aspect of the sport also means it is a great way to meet new people and share experiences with people who have similar values and interests.
Being outside will also mean you get your daily dose of vitamin D.
The sense of thrill and accomplishment when you do catch your first wave will provide such a high. Surfers never get tired of it and seek the thrill whenever they can.
It’s without doubt a great hobby for anyone wanting to add some excitement to their lives.
The activity of surfing offers a complete body workout. Cardio-vascular health and fitness will improve a lot due to the intensity of paddling out and trying to catch a wave. This also means it’s a fantastic way to lose weight and for those searching for an effective weight loss workout.
Strength and Power
Shoulders, back and arms will get really strong due to the requirements of paddling out. Similarly, surfers have incredibly strong abs and an overall core. This is required for balance and the constant standing up from a laying down position.
Your legs will also receive quite the workout. Leg muscles with grow and develop to help support you on the board.
Balance and Flexibility
Balance and flexibility are also fantastic benefits of surfing for over 50s. Balancing on a surfboard will make everyday balance requirements seem like a walk in the park. Similarly, having better flexibility will help with functional fitness and movements.
Tips for Learning to Surf Over 50
Surfing isn’t easy – it will take time before you’re catching the waves with perfect timing.
Getting lessons from a qualified instructor means you’ll learn the best techniques for surfing and skip a lot of trial and error. This will help avoid getting injured.
Surf instructor can help with everything from understanding surf boards and which ones to use for beginners, to what to look for in waves and the ocean conditions.
Most beaches and locations that are good for surfing will have surf schools. Group lessons can be a great way to meet people and will be cheaper than one-on-one lessons.
Similarly, once you’ve had a few beginner lessons, if you’re keen to pursue surfing further, joining a local club will keep you motivated and inspired to keep it up.
If you don’t live close to the ocean or want extra practice, there are some indoor surf schools than use artificial waves to practice surfing on.
Being a confident swimmer is vital for succeeding at surfing.
If you panic or struggle to swim in currents then you’re likely going to find surfing quite stressful.
Swimming is a great activity for over 50s anyway, so is something worth trying to pursue anyway. Even for the most experienced swimmer, getting used to wild swimming and ocean swimming is really beneficial for coping with currents, the temperature and the subtle nuances associated with open water swimming.
Surfing requires good balance so getting all the practice in you can with balance training exercises is well worth it.
Our recent review of the best balance equipment helps illustrate the different types of balance boards available and the advantages and disadvantages for each one.
We also have a blog on balance pad exercises, which again, helps improve balance.
For surfing, roller balance boards are going to offer the best type of training and replicate the unstable nature of surfing.
Upper Body Strength
Surfing requires you to stand up on a surfboard in perfect unison with a wave. Even on calm days and gentle waves, your upper body will go through a pretty intense workout.
From paddling to catch the wave to popping up as quick as possible, training your upper body will help you get better at surfing.
Surf boards vary in size so picking one suitable for your abilities will help you get more out of surfing.
Longer boards offer more stability and make it easier to balance. This means longer boards are generally better for beginners.
Shorter boards offer more versatility but require better balance and experience to actually stay up on them.
Surf schools will have boards suitable for beginners. These are often soft-top too, which means they are easier to paddle and more comfortable for laying on.
Surfing usually attracts a very welcoming and relaxed crowd. People of all abilities share the ocean and respect each other.
The main etiquette to remember is simply to give other surfers space and distance, particularly if they are chasing or riding a wave.
If someone is already riding a wave, paddling near them is not only annoying for that person, but also quite dangerous – having a high speed surfboard crash into you won’t be very fun.
Surf Gear for Beginners
There’s a little bit of gear that you’ll need for surfing. If you’re new to surfing and getting started by visiting a surf school, they usually provide the equipment.
Nevertheless, once you’re hooked on the sport, you may find yourself wanting to buy your own gear so you can venture out on the waves wherever you like.
Surfboards are unsurprisingly a requirement for the sport. Surfboards come in many shapes and sizes with beginner boards being softer and longer.
Surf schools will usually let you rent them but if you’re planning on surfing more than once, you can pick up your own board and benefit from being able to use it whenever you go.
Depending on the temperature, you’ll either need a rash vest or wetsuit. In the UK, even in summer, you’re probably going to want a wetsuit.
Rash vests are good even in hot conditions, to help protect against sun burn.
You’ll want to wear a swimsuit under your wetsuit (particularly if you’re hiring the wetsuit).
You’re best option is comfort over style. You want a swimsuit that won’t get in the way.
Reef shoes and surf boots are a good choice, particularly for rocky beaches.
Reef shoes can also limit the possibility of standing on anything that could cause harm, including sea creatures!
Caps and Gloves
In colder conditions, caps and gloves are worth wearing and will help keep you warmer so you can last in the water that little bit longer.
Surf Inspiration for Over 50s
For anyone wondering whether they are too old to surf, there are plenty of people all around the world surfing well into their 50s, 60s and 70s.
For anyone wanting to use age as an excuse for not surfing, you’ll have to find a different excuse instead.