Surfers are a heterogeneous population with a common interest in riding waves. Surfers qualitatively 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. One hundred surfers (N = 100) were administered the Beck Depression Inventory-II, the Beck Anxiety Inventory, the Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations, and a demographics questionnaire. Results indicate that surfers reported significantly fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety, and employed emotion-based coping responses to stressful situations significantly less than the general populace. Surfers also employed avoidance-based coping strategies more frequently than the general populace. Future study should evaluate causal relationships between surfing and incidence of depression and anxiety.
Dr. Benjamin J. Levin is a post-doctoral fellow with the University of California-San Francisco/San Francisco Department of Veterans Affairs, Schizophrenia Research Project. Dr. Jim Taylor is in private practice in San Francisco, CA.