Learn to surf after 40
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Age in surfing. Learning to surf after 40

Learning to surf as an adult can be daunting and you can feel like progress is slower. We've broken down how learning to surf as an adult will help you.

It’s not that people think you shouldn’t try new things after you pass your 40’s, but rather that you don't have the ability to actually get good at them. The phrase “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” comes to mind as a perfect example of this mentality.

We strongly believe that those are baseless beliefs and that it’s never too late to pick up surfing or any other sport, regardless of your age. But since that alone won’t be enough to persuade you, we hope that our article can shed some light on why surfing is a perfect option for everyone that wants to try it, regardless of how many years you have under your belt.

Can you learn surfing past your 40s?

Absolutely. The notion that you shouldn’t be able to take on any new interests after a certain age is comical and has no basis in reality whatsoever.

While it is true that some more violent contact sports like rugby aren’t recommended to someone of advanced age or to those with joint pains, activities like that are the rare exception, rather than the norm.

Aside from the false physical requirements that people arbitrarily associate with learning how to surf, there also seems to be a stigma when it comes to the appropriate or inappropriate age for someone to pick up a surfboard.

It should be said that none of these beliefs are held by surfers since they would actually hold a very different outlook on this particular age debate. Instead, the majority of those who feel this way seem to be past their forties themselves and have never tried surfing.

We believe that you should never stop learning new things for as long as you’re alive, and surfing is a great example of this. Not only will it provide you with a fun new pastime, but it will also help you stay in better mental and physical shape.

The psychological benefits of surfing

We thought we would go over the multiple benefits that surfing can provide for your mental state first. Our reason for giving this a priority has largely to do with the fact that people see the psychological advantages of the sport as somehow less important than the physical ones.

While it is true that surfing can really improve your physical condition and help you sort out things like joint or back pains, the fact that it’s also a great cure for anxiety and stress often goes unnoticed by most people.

Surfing triggers the release of endorphins

Without going into too much medical detail, endorphins are essentially your body’s mood regulators. The more endorphins that your body releases, the more upbeat and cheerful you feel. Endorphins are released through various means, but the easiest way is to just exercise or do a bit of physical activity and get your blood pumping.

Truth be told, any sport could be used for this, and all of them can yield the same amount of released endorphins. The added benefit that surfing brings is the added rush and adrenaline that comes from the feeling of actually going down a wave and managing to ride it as far as possible.

Surfing gives you a sense of accomplishment

Speaking of riding waves, the first time that you actually stand up on your board and manage to surf the shoulder is going to feel like you’ve achieved something really spectacular.

Surfing takes time and patience in order to master. It can be really tough to get the hang of, even if you aren’t trying to go for any big fast-breaking waves, or pulling off flashy tricks. 

Everything is going to be tricky to get right in the beginning, from the timing of paddling out, to the pop-up, to the amount of balance that you need to stay on the board. You’re most likely going to get very frustrated at times and you’re going to be doing a lot of wiping out and falling into the water.

As long as you manage to persevere and stick with it, the profound sense of achievement that you’ll get from actually managing to tackle your first wave isn’t something that you’ll be able to describe in words.

Even leaving that aside, you’ll feel gratified that you managed to stick with something, despite how tough it was, and you’ll be really happy that you managed to get to that point through nothing more than sheer perseverance.

Surfing can improve your concentration

There are a lot of aspects of surfing that require your undivided attention in order to be able to get to the point where you can actually stand up on your board.

You’ll need to learn what to watch out for when it comes to finding out which way a wave is going to break. You’ll need to pay attention to when exactly the wave will start to lift your board and when it would be best to do a pop-up. And you’ll have to watch how the wave is moving and modify the angle of your board accordingly.

After you’ve repeated the same movements enough times, you’ll naturally develop a certain level of muscle-memory and coordination, and you’ll be able to perform the same sequences as if they were second nature to you.

This means that you’ll manage to develop your concentration and reflexes by doing nothing other than repeating the same surfing movements time and time again.

Surfing a great stress reliever

When everything is said and done, the biggest psychological benefit that surfing can give you is forgetting your worries when you’re out on the waves.

The sense of ease you’ll feel while gliding down the waves is frankly tough to describe. It feels like there’s nothing else around you, and like all of your problems and issues have been taken away by the surf.

You don’t even really have to be out riding the waves in order to get a sense of peace. All you really have to do is paddle out of the beach, away from the other surfers, lie on your board, and simply listen to the break of the waves and take in the scent of seawater.

Contrary to common belief, surfing is an incredibly calming sport. You can, of course, go hardcore and take on the biggest and fastest breaking waves that you can find, but you can also just go out and enjoy yourself while you let the waves carry both you and your problems away for a few hours.

The physical benefits of surfing

Finally, we come to the main point of this article where we’ll give you a more in-depth answer to the ”can you start surfing if you’re in your 40s or older” question. The short answer is, of course, an unequivocal yes.

Every sport is going to have certain physical requirements, and you might have certain conditions and circumstances that might prevent you from practicing anything that’s far too demanding and takes a great toll on your body.

Even in those situations, surfing can prove to actually be much more of a benefit to your health, rather than a detriment. While most contact sports can result in pulled muscles or joint pains, not only is there a very small chance of that happening in surfing, but it can actually help you alleviate some of the issues you have if you’re suffering from either of those problems.

Again, we want to stress that surfing is not completely safe and accident-proof. There isn’t a physical activity in existence that doesn’t carry any inherent risk with it.

What we mean to say, and what we mean to prove with the following points is that there are a lot of health advantages to surfing and very few physical requirements that might prevent you from taking up a surfboard and experiencing all of these benefits for yourselves.

Surfing is a great solution to back pain

Back pain isn’t something that’s exclusive to people of a certain age. If you’ve worked any sort of office job for more than a few months, it’s almost guaranteed you know just how miserable your spine feels when you’re forced to hold the posture of a banana for many hours every day. Unless you make some sort of back exercises, of course.

Luckily, regardless of your age or job description, if you’re suffering from back pains, surfing is a great way to help alleviate some of the stress that’s on your back.

The actual reason why people develop these sorts of issues is due to inactivity. It isn’t difficult to see why your back and shoulders feel stiff if you don’t move any part of your body besides your head and arms for hours at a time.

When it comes to moving every part of your body, it’s hard to find a sport that’s better than surfing. Not only are you required to constantly keep moving and adjusting your position on the board and the wave, but you’re also doing a lot of rotations in order to pull off turning maneuvers.

This all means that a day out on the waves can be a great way to blow off an entire week of accumulated pressure on your spine and shoulders.

Surfing can improve your flexibility

In the previous section, we briefly mentioned how you always need to be moving while you’re on the board, but we didn’t mention how beneficial this is for improving the flexibility of your ligaments.

Every aspect of surfing allows you to use the full rotation of all your body joints, as well as the full range of motion of all muscle groups.

When you paddle out to the waves you’re swinging your arms in a circular motion and flexing and relaxing your shoulder, back, and chest muscles in the process. Additionally, you're also using your chest and your arms in order to push yourself up on the board in preparation to do a pop-up.

In order to properly keep your balance on the board, you need to engage your core, rotate your hips, move your legs, and swing out with everything from your arms and hands to your shoulders and head.

What we’re trying to say is that you actually can’t find a single muscle group that you don’t use when you’re surfing.

These repetitive motions allow your joints to get used to more dynamic movements and will result in you being less susceptible to sprains and pulled muscles in your everyday life.

Surfing is a phenomenal cardio exercise

Anyone who’s ever gone for a lap around a pool will tell you just how exhausted they were afterward. In general, the reason why pretty much every water sport drains your stamina so quickly is due to the resistance that the water provides to just about everything you do in it.

Everything in surfing, from the paddle out and the pop-up, to actually trying to control your board on the water, is going to quickly burn through vast reserves of your energy. As a result of this strenuous activity, your heart is going to beat faster, which will give your blood circulation a boost and will lessen the chances of you developing a heart-related illness.

The boost in blood flow will also allow more oxygen to get through to your lungs, thereby developing your stamina and increasing the burden that you can put on your body before you start to get winded.

The more your body gets used to this higher speed of cardiovascular activity, the more positive effects you’ll see in your day to day life. Most notably, you’ll be able to be more active for longer periods of time.

Surfing strengthens your core

We’ve mentioned how surfing can strengthen your core several times in the article already, but what exactly is it about surfing that makes it such a good workout for that section of the body?

The balance that you need in order to stand on your board and control it comes from the core. Your legs also play a crucial part when it comes to steering on the waves and trying not to fall off of your surfboard, but your main source of balance will come from your abdomen.

In the beginning, you might feel a bit too much pressure due to the fact that you probably equate tightening your core with flexing your abdominal muscles. After a while, you’ll learn how to engage your core and do better hip rotations without being too stiff or putting so much pressure on your abs.

The result in your appearance and the health benefits you’ll get from engaging your core while surfing are both going to be staggering. Not only will you be able to lift heavy items more easily and without experiencing back pains, but you’ll find that you aren’t as sore from prolonged sitting periods anymore, and that your waistline has dropped by a few inches from the activity.


Hopefully we’ve managed to elaborate on some of the numerous health benefits that come from taking up surfing at any age.

But here's the actual truth when it comes to surfing - we don’t have to explain all of these points in order to get you hooked on surfing. All we really have to do is tell you to just go to the beach and try it for yourself one time. That’s all it takes.

Regardless of all of the additional benefits that come with the sport, the main reason why so many people love surfing despite their age is the fact that it’s so addictively fun.

After the first bottom turn that you manage to pull off, everything else will just dissolve in the water, and all you’ll really want to do is go on another wave.

Written by
Jeremy Dean
surf coaching