Most of us are aware of the fact that the baby boomer generation is aging and growing into the largest retired- medicare beneficiary group that the United States has seen to date. The sheer number of Medicare beneficiaries is projected to grow from 50.7 million in 2012 to 81 million in 2030 (YES growing by nearly 63%). This is daunting considering that not only is the current Medicare system overwhelmed in current times, but those people who are becoming of Medicare age who are currently paying into the pot, may not be replaced with younger-aged paying counter parts. And so while Capital Hill and the current president elect squabble over a new health care reform plan, it is important to recognize that the US has never had this particular issue to deal with, and a plan to accommodate the incoming baby boomer’s is imminent.

Why do surfers care? Well… lets start with that 27% or more of surfers fall into the baby boomer and later Gen X categories (2), which is a good chunk of your fellow friends in the line up. So while this may mean that your line up is more crowded as younger surfers begin the sport, and older surfers continue to surf, there are healthcare implications involved with surfing. Science (if you believe it still exists ;)), has demonstrated the health benefits of surfing including increased balance into later years, improved cardiovascular health, and improved sense of community (3-6).

So can surfing help mitigate health problems down the road, and possibly even your health care costs? Well… it is possible.  Lets surmise that you managed your stress levels, cardiovascular health, and overall wellness by doing things such as eating right, surfing and stretching, and managing your medications, etc. What if you made a commitment to make surfing a life-long habit for your health?

We all know that there is a certain degree of many disease processes that are genetic, not preventable, and so that is difficult to manage and predict.. BUT, what about the preventable side of things? The American Heart Association recommends a weekly amount of 150 minutes of vigorous exercise, and 300 minutes of vigorous exercise to decrease your risk for cardiovascular disease, which is something surfing achieves. Usually our heart rates are at 65% target heart rate max, just floating in the water.

Or, consider the alternative… a long term hospital and/or skilled nursing care stay that could last several weeks to months as you recover from a heart bypass or a toe/foot amputation because of diabetes. Call me cynical, but maybe we should be looking to the processed food industry for funding of many medical conditions that have dramatically increased since the advent of convenience-type foods, yellow number 5, and high fructose corn syrup.

But what’s reality? Obstacles to keeping in the water surfing??  What if your back hurts, your shoulder is stiff, you blew out your knee or hip, and now surfing is a hell of a lot harder than it used to be. Well.. that is where I come in. Licensed as a physical therapist with a clinical doctorate for 9 years, and working within the rehab industry for nearly 20 years, I specialize in corrective exercise for the aging surfer. My goal is to help you stay in the water surfing as long as possible.. Not only because the stoke factor is great, but to help reduce preventable health care issues such as obesity, heart disease, bone density loss, and decreased balance. Ultimately, chances are, if you are surfing, you are preventing a lot of the complications involved with many of the US’s preventable disease processes.

And, for those of you who maybe you don’t have too many aches and pains, but you’re just interested in developing a long-term, wellness routine to promote good shoulder/ back/ or hip and knee mobility and strength..? I would recommend our online wellness programs available at www.painfree.surf. These are broken down into 3 Courses: Paddle, Duck Dive, and Pop-Up each focusing on specific areas of the body.. each focusing on a particular area of the body.

Our goal is to help you stay active and involved with the ocean later in life, keeping you healthy and maybe, just maybe saving you a dime or two over the long haul by promoting life-long wellness.

1) http://www.heritage.org/health-care-reform/report/medicares-demographic-challenge-and-the-urgent-need-reform

2) Sports and Fitness Association (SFIA) Single Sport Participation Report: Surfing: 2012.

3) Farley O, Harris N; Kilding A Physiological Demands of Competitive SurfingPhysiological demands of competitive surfing. J Strength Cond Res. 2012 Jul;26(7):1887-96.

4) Rogers CM; Mallinson T, Peppers D High-Intensity Sports for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and Depression: Feasibility Study of Ocean Therapy With Veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Am J Occup Ther. 2014; 68(4):395-404.

5) Lopes, J.T. Adapted Surfing as a Tool to Promote Inclusion and Rising Disability Awareness in Portugal. Journal of Sport for Development. 2015; 3(5).

6) Martin F, Shi Z, Pedro B, Zachary C Effects of Long-Term Recreational Surfing on Control of Force and Posture in Older Surfers: A Preliminary Investigation Journal of Exercise Science & Fitness. 2009; 7(1)31-38.

7) Leung MYM, Pollack LM, Colditz GA, Chang SH. Life Years Lost and Lifetime Health Care Expenditures Associated With Diabetes in the U.S., National Health Interview Survey, 1997–2000. Diabetes Care 2015 vol. 38 no. 3 460-468.