Can windsurfing be prescribed as medication?

May 11, 2016 | Windsurfing
Windsurfing: good for your health, good for your soul | Photo: Carter/PWA

Is there more to windsurfing than what we might have expected? Can windsurfing prevent mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety and stress? Can we even ask our physician to prescribe windsurfing as medication?

Henrik Beyer, health promoter and author of "Health & Fitness for Windsurfing," considers the mental health aspects of windsurfing and what it can do for our lives.

"In life and windsurfing, great changes are preceded by storms. If we can consider the storms as a source for growth, we benefit as individuals and as windsurfers," says the Swedish health promoter and windsurfer.

However, we need something to grab onto in a storm, in order to ride through it. We know all about turning to professionals for help through a rough time in life, but what about using windsurfing as a life-supporting and mental health enhancing medicine?

Finding a passion in windsurfing is a possible base for our sense of self and potentially a path towards self-actualization. Windsurfing can also be a lifestyle and spring for great psychological benefits, especially when suffering from stress. Research shows that being physically active can be as beneficial to the individuals' mental health as medication.

"Being depressed is easier on a wave than sitting in the office. Physicians could, in fact, prescribe windsurfing for our mental fitness. Make no mistake, windsurfing should not replace professional help in case of depression, but physical activity can be a tool towards increased mental health," adds Beyer.

Windsurfers have felt it, and it can even be seen. The mental health benefits of windsurfing are easily spotted in the eyes of planing, wave riding and jibing windsurfers. For example, the social media community "Jaklar - Positive Vibes" is showing us the images of the positive and passionate side of windsurfing.

The author of "Health & Fitness for Windsurfing" has himself felt the need to run off to the ocean when life is tough, in order to experience joy. Even the pre-sailing feeling helps lowering levels of negative stress.

That feeling of a promising wind prognosis, packing the windsurfing gear, turning on the favorite music, and driving to the beach is almost like a teenage like first-love feeling.

We can be bad sailors, or we can be Robby Naish. It doesn't matter. It is all about the benefits windsurfing can give us in life, both on and off the water. Next time you or a fellow sailor is feeling a mental wipeout, get back on the board. Go sailing, and live life.

  • Dutch environmental activist and windsurfer Merijn Tinga, also known as the "Plastic Soup Surfer," has made an audacious journey from Oslo to London, braving the North Sea's currents and winds, to call attention to the pervasive problem of plastic pollution.