How surfing helps fight chronic ailments

And the fantastic people incorporating surfing into patient treatment regimes and reaping extraordinary results.

Sam Sheffield

Hometown: Gold Coast, Australia

Current Residence: Gold Coast, Australia

Social Media Handles: @sams86, @svnseasco

Background: Eternally trying to balance my life between being stuck behind a desk and spending time in and around the water.

Interests: Adventure sports because I’m supposedly no good at playing ball sports.

Personal Website: Founder of SVN Seas Adventure Co.

As surfing and ocean activities become more main stream, we are starting to witness a greater scientific approach to discovering the physical and mental benefits to being in the ocean. To get this news out there, in the hopes that others can find positive and healthy outcomes from surfing. We have collected a list of Physical and Mental ailments for which surfing has been directly prescribed by fantastic Doctors and NGO’s around the world. We have included a small blurb about the article and links to the full site and/or articles.


Chronic Ailment – Heart Disease, Depression, Diabetes and Obesity – Biarritz doctors are authorised to prescribe surfing or stand-up paddle lessons to patients suffering from a range of chronic ailments in a pilot scheme they say works “miracles”.

Heart Disease, Depression, Diabetes and Obesity Article

Chronic Ailment – Autism – “After 15+ years of taking kids out on the water, we’re still amazed by the transformative power of the experience. Many children with autism struggle with sensory overload; in other words, simple sensations can overwhelm them. The weightlessness and rhythms of the ocean offer a therapeutic experience, a respite from the constant assault on their senses”.

Autism Article

Chronic Ailment – Cystic Fibrosis – According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, it seems that surfing can extend the life of people suffering from cystic fibrosis (CF). Past studies have led scientists to conclude that inhaling concentrated salt water (hypertonic saline) mist provided benefits to adults and children suffering from CF. Moreover, Australian doctors observed that young surfers with cystic fibrosis had significantly healthier lungs. Inhaling salt water rehydrates the lining of the lungs and loosens the thick mucus that builds up, thus reducing recurrent infections alongside its associated lung damage and respiratory failure.

Cystic Fibrosis Article

Nordic Hot Chocolate Recipe


Chronic Ailment – Drepression and Anexiety- In 2011, a paperfound surfers reported significantly fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety than the general population. It concluded that surfers “describe the surfing sensation as a hybrid of meditative and athletic experience. Numerous empirical studies link both meditative experience and exercise with reduced incidence of depression and anxiety; this potentially suggests that surfers may endorse fewer symptoms of either disorder.”

Helping Depression NY Times Article

Helping Depression The Inertia Article

Helping Mental Health ABC Podcast

Mental Health Recovery Huff Post Article

Chronic Ailment – Physical and Mental Trauma (inc PTSD & Psychosis) – Surfing has become medicine for military veterans suffering from physical and mental trauma. Resurface (Documentary) follows veterans who find that the ocean is the one place they can go to for peace.

Helping PTSD and Psychosis



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