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Can surfing help your mental health? Bristol student secures project with The Wave to find out

The women all took part in a six-week intensive surf course and now The Wave has agreed to support Ariane through her three-year PhD


Bristol Master’s student, Ariane Gerami, has conducted research into the effects of surfing on women’s mental health, and the results are very impressive.

The fifteen women involved felt more confident, less anxious and had increased positivity. The women all took part in a six-week intensive surf course at a virtual wave location and had their responses recorded on video.

Now, The Wave, an artificial wave pool located in the North of Bristol, has agreed to support Ariane through her three-year PhD to expand on her research. The results of her study have already been included in an international academic journal, it’s very exciting to see a Bristol student contributing to groundbreaking research.

Ariane, 41, said:

“Seeing this research project scale such amazing new heights is like a dream come true. Watching the participants smiling and growing in confidence with each surf session was a really rewarding experience and it was also a powerful illustration of what surfing can bring to mental wellbeing.

“I’m looking forward to building on this evidence to gain a fuller understanding of the relationship between surfing and mental health, and the potential wider advantages of this invigorating physical activity.”

Credit @Image Cabin

The study involved cutting-edge technology from VideoBooth Systems, which the women used to record how they felt each day, generating a rating for their mental health at the start and end of the project. All of them saw an improvement in their mental health, with one participant saying:

“The impact on mental wellbeing has been clear for all participants; the sense of achievement, boost in self-esteem, confidence, happiness, connecting with the water, the light and each other means that we would walk away feeling refreshed and having had space for ourselves and for our brains to be purely in the moment.”

Credit @uobsurf via Instagram

The pilot study only focused on women, but the larger study will involve both men and women to get a more conclusive report on the impact of physical exercise and surfing on mental health. The study is the first of its kind to happen at an artificial pool. The Wave is also looking at expanding to a new location in London.

If you are struggling with your mental health, maybe check out the Bristol Surf Society and give it a go. Now scientifically proven to make you feel better.

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