5 Benefits of Surfing for People with Disabilities
As an accessible activity centre in Devon, we’re always keen to shout about the benefits of spending time in the great outdoors and believe that everyone should be able to enjoy activities in the natural world.
Surfing is a highly active and exhilarating sport that engages both the mind and body – it is something that individuals of all abilities can experience and enjoy.
Not only does surfing give you an opportunity to appreciate the environment and get face-to-face with the natural world, but it’s all a brilliantly fun activity that provides an experience that can’t be replicated elsewhere.
Adaptive Surfing at Calvert Trust Exmoor
Surfing is our only off-site activity; if you opt for a surf-inclusive break, we’ll take the short trip to Croyde, one of the region’s most famous surfing beaches, where guests will be given engaging surf lessons taught by experienced surf instructors.
Surf Therapy for Mental and Physical Disabilities
These organisations we work with are pioneers in the area of surf therapy.
The Wave Project is part of a well-established scheme that facilitates surf therapy sessions designed to support young people with mental or physical conditions. It aims to help them build confidence, reduce anxiety and strive for that ‘I CAN do it’ attitude.
Since The Wave Project’s inception in 2010, surf therapy has become an NHS-recognised form of effective therapy, especially for young people.
Surf Therapy Research
The field still lacks an abundance of quantitative research, but the 2015 study Benefits of Surfing for Children with Disabilities: A Pilot Study from the University of Rhode Island remains a valuable resource and validates some of the thinking behind surf therapy.
The study touts the physical benefits of surfing for people with disabilities and also touches on the potential social and personal benefits the activity promotes.
Findings from the study concluded that the analysed surf therapy programme ‘improved numerous areas of physical fitness and is another activity that can be added to the repertoire of effective adapted aquatic exercise programs.’
Over the course of our surf sessions, we’ve seen our guests benefit from the activity in numerous ways. Below, we explore the top five benefits that accessible surfing can provide.
1. Surfing Can Improve Physical Fitness
Surfing is widely acknowledged as an intense form of exercise which involves healthy levels of aerobic activity. Surfing encourages participants to move their bodies in new ways, practising movements that are different from everyday activities.
The study mentioned above found that, overall, surfing improved the physical wellbeing of the participants.
Core body strength, aerobic capacity, increased grip strength and flexibility were all recorded as being improved after the surf programme study.
2. Surfing Cultivates an Environment of Support
Surfing can be an unforgettable experience, especially when participants are surrounded by an environment of encouragement and support.
Whether surfers are given lessons as a group or as an individual, they have the opportunity to form a trusting relationship with the instructor while also being encouraged to strive for feelings of independence and achievement.
3. Surfing Encourages Social Inclusion
Anecdotal evidence from various surf therapy studies and sessions has also highlighted the beneficial social aspects of surfing.
Even if the surf lessons are one-to-one, a network and sense of community is built up between everyone taking part. Surfing is an inclusive sport that promotes a supportive environment for participants to encourage each other and share one another’s successes.
The energetic nature of the activity allows for a great backdrop for making friends and forming connections.
4. Surfing Supports Confidence and Self Belief
Surfing may seem like a daunting activity at first, but with some guidance from a dedicated instructor and some time in the water, guests will be surprised by how quickly they take to the sport.
Taking part in surfing activities can help boost an individual’s sense of self, helping to improve confidence, self-esteem and a feeling of belonging.
These feelings are incredibly important to developing a positive personal perception. By sparking these feelings towards oneself, the desire to feel challenged is also boosted.
5. Surfing is a Fun Experience
Aside from all those other benefits, surfing is just plain fun, which many of our guests will certainly attest to!
Surfing is a unique sport that pushes individuals to learn numerous new skills, including balance and furthering water knowledge, all while being in a safe and supportive environment where individuals are primarily encouraged to be themselves and have fun.
The accessible surfing activities that we offer here at Calvert Trust Exmoor are available to both children and adults. Specialist beach equipment and adaptive surfboards are also provided to ensure everyone can take part comfortably.
Please note that surfing trips are not included in a standard break package. To find out more about our surf experiences or any of our other accessible activities and disability holidays, please get in touch.