It has been about sixty years since Dick Dale’s surf music first hit the airwaves, Gidget learned to surf and The Endless Summer took us on an adventure around the world to find the perfect wave. Since then, surfing has continued to be not only a beneficial recreational activity, but also part of our pop culture. And while many people think of surfers as young and fearless, there actually is no age limit to participating in this sport.
In fact, some have continued to surf into their 90s. The documentary Surfing for Life features John H. “Doc” Ball who at the time was the oldest living American surfer, at age 94, when he passed away in December 2001 – along with nine other amazing men and women who were then still surfing at age 60 and beyond.
There are numerous benefits to surfing throughout your life. In addition to getting outdoors and enjoying mother nature, decades of surfing may also improve neuromuscular function. Researchers set out to test the effects of long-term recreational surfing and published their findings in the Journal of Exercise Science & Fitness. Eleven surfers who had been surfing for at least 40 years participated in the study, which took place in Australia. These surfers were compared to physically active men their same age that participated in activities like cycling, walking, or swimming. While both groups had similarities in the study, the surfers demonstrated better performance in control of steady muscle contraction and upright posture.
But what about those who have never been on a surfboard their whole life? Start by taking a lesson. A qualified surf instructor can provide you with the proper size board (some may be soft on top for beginners) and lessons will typically start on land where the instructor will review technique and form. The instructor should also review water safety and etiquette for surfing around other people so that everyone can enjoy their time out in the waves. Finally, the instructors will know the best local spots that have consistent, calm waves and soft ocean bottoms that are best suited for beginners. There are several companies, according to the Wall Street Journal, that offer lessons and even tours catered to older adults that combine surfing with other adventurous activities and yoga.
So, the next time you see someone “hanging ten” – or even “wiping out” and think that it’s something you’d like to try, know that you can ride the waves at any age.
© 2023 Silver Disobedience Inc.