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Hit the Surf!

After months spent mostly homebound, you may have a particularly strong itch to immerse yourself in nature this summer and/or to break out of your regular routine. If so, consider surfing: a full-body exercise that feels more like playtime than a workout, and that delivers a host of mental perks along with muscle toning.

The Benefits

  • Paddling through the water will raise your heart rate (hello, cardio) and tone your upper back, shoulder muscles and triceps. Popping up and surfing work your pectorals, core and leg muscles.
  • Surfing tests and strengthens your patience—both while you’re learning how (chances are you won’t get up on your first, or even fifth, try) and when you’re out there waiting for a wave.
  • Depending on how many waves you catch, you could burn between 250 and 600 calories per hour of surfing.
  • There’s a lot to think about, so daily worries or thoughts from the office won’t have space in your mind. Hitting the water before or after work often affords the chance to see the sunrise or sunset—upping the Zen factor even more.

Know Before You Go:

  • Swimming competency is a must. If you’re not completely confident in the ocean (where depth and tides change often), start with swimming lessons.
  • Enlist a pro if you’re new to the sport. Surfing classes not only teach technique; they give tips for navigating the local surf safely.
  • Gear up with water-resistant sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher), a rash guard (waxing your board will help you balance but can also irritate skin) and a properly fitted board and surf leash.

Where to surf: Most locals will say that The Washout on Folly Beach (a house-less strip of East Ashley Avenue past 13th Street East) offers the best surf. Elsewhere on Folly and Isle of Palms, steady, smaller waves can be expected.

How to learn: Many surf shops on Folly Beach, Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island offer classes. Or try Isla Surf School, Carolina Salt Surf Lessons or Shaka Surf School.


Photograph courtesy of Isla Surf School, by Clay Austin

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