How Many Calories Does Surfing Burn

How Many Calories Does Surfing Burn?

By Sophia the SeaMonster on Jan 20, 2023

The number of calories burnt during one-hour surfing could surpass the number of calories you’d burn during one hour of cardio/aerobic workout sessions. Yes, seriously!

When the goal is to achieve a proper, acceptable shape and not bodybuilding, it’s uncommon for a young adult to hit the gym for one hour daily, either doing cardio or weightlifting.

That said, you can lose those extra pounds without spending much time getting exhausted by either solely relying on the sport or making it part of your workout regimen.

However, variations are there - how many calories surfing burns depends on a few factors, plus different types of surfing could have different calorie-burning outcomes. Stay tuned; I’ll walk you through all the necessary information.

But first, a clear-cut answer…

How Many Calories Does Surfing Burn?

On average, one hour of recreational surfing (wave surfing) burns between 220-300 calories and 350-500 in competitive surfing. Your body weight, duration and intensity of the session, and the type of surfing done determine the number of calories burnt. Below is a brief yet comprehensive detail of each of these elements.

Calories Burnt As Per Weight

the more you weigh, the more calories you’ll burn surfing per hour. This idea is accurate in other types of physical activities. Larger people require more energy to move their bodies, so they’ll typically burn more calories while working out or surfing.

I’ll mention two weight variations as landmarks to help you estimate how many calories you should expect to burn surfing per hour.

Someone weighing 60kg (130lbs) would burn 180 calories with 1 hour of surfing. Similarly, someone with 80kg (180 lbs) can expect to ditch anywhere between 230-250 calories/hour.

Calories Burnt As Per the Condition

How often you attempt to catch waves and how long you ride one for impacts the number of calories you'll burn.  Below are two different scenarios common to most surfers.

Mellow Conditions - 250 to 500 Calories Per Hour

Whether you’re a novice or a geek surfer, if waves aren’t appearing frequently or the line-up isn’t precise, you’ll spend more time sitting around and less time catching them. And this directly translates to burning fewer calories.

Suppose you keep a 10-min gap between each wave you catch. You’ll automatically decrease the amount of energy used to catch waves.

Also, the smaller the waves, the less time you’ll spend riding it, making you burn fewer calories.

In such wave conditions and the level of intensity, someone weighing 80kg (180 lbs) would burn 250-350 calories per hour of surfing.

Tough Conditions - 600 to 800 Calories Per Hour

On the contrary, if there is wave after wave everywhere, your sight wanders, and you just take advantage of every opportunity, you’re going to drastically increase the number of calories burnt - as many as 600-800. Surprisingly, this number equals calories burnt for one hour of intense cardio workout!

Paddling as fast as possible toward a big wave, then riding it, and paddling back to catch waves after the other. Plus, the bigger the wave, the longer you’ll ride it, and you may also not be able to keep yourself from performing tricks and turns. All that will make you use more energy and burn more calories faster!

In such conditions and the level of intensity, a surfer with 80kg (180 lbs) would burn anywhere between 600-800 calories.

Calories Burnt As Per the Type of Surfing

Stand Up Paddling (SUP)

Stand-up paddling is an offshoot of wave surfing in which the surfer uses a paddle to propel themselves, forwards. Given SUP's point of sliding smoothly forward on the water, a wave surfer might think it’s a less physically- and mentally-demanding sport and thus doesn’t require more energy and burn more calories.

But it’s not ‘practically’ the case - the calorie-burning rate goes something like this:

  • Someone weighing 60 kg would burn around 350 calories per hour of SUP
  • Someone weighing 80kg would burn around 500 calories per hour of SUP

Even though paddleboarding involves nothing like pop-ups, sharp turns, peaking to the wave, or tricks, it still involves most of the muscles that wave surfing involves, and it’s still a more-calorie burner than wave surfing.

While paddle boarding, you must use your upper body to move the paddle, and your back, leg, and abdominal muscles to attain and retain posture and stability. Plus, the faster your pace, the more calories you’d burn. In fact, in some cases, SUP experts have been shown to burn 1200 calories!


Kitesurfing is a super intense activity, especially when the wind blows hard or if done in the sea instead of in a lake or lagoon.

A kite surfer must keep moving and constantly engage almost the entire body throughout the session.

Use arms and shoulders to secure the kite; core muscles to help the lower back hold the pressure; and the legs to direct the board, tackle the chop, and push off for a jump. It’s such a comprehensive workout, no doubt.

That said, someone weighing 60kg when the wind is hard would burn 600 calories per hour, while someone with 80 kg would burn around 1000 calories in the same condition kitesurfing.


Like kitesurfing, it relies on wind, uses a board/sail, and requires the same muscles to engage. The only difference between the two is that kitesurfing is a continuous movement and thus is aerobic. Conversely, windsurfing involves pauses and is more about balance than constantly moving your body.

It has its perks - getting in and out of the water and returning on the board - is quite exhausting. Moreover, the intensity of currents and wind being the determining factors, a beginner surfer is likely to burn more calories than an expert windsurfer.

As such, someone weighing 60kg would likely burn 200-300 calories per hour of windsurfing. However, expert windsurfers have more calorie burning rate than wave surfers - it starts from 1000!

Final Thought

Turns out, your surfing experience, time spent in the water, wave conditions, and types of surfing all have their distinct calorie burning. If you start as a beginner, you may end up more exhausted and burn fewer calories, and as you level up, it can drastically increase. Wishing you the best of luck with your water workouts!

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