Surfing – the joys, the benefits and the results


Live It Experience It speaks to Hanno Windisch, manager and instructor with Alive Surf School in Portrush, County Antrim, on the health and wellbeing benefits of surfing.

Our wellbeing is often at the forefront of our minds as we rightly regard it as fundamental to our overall health. In accordance to the UK mental health charity, Mind, our individual wellbeing helps us to cope with the stresses of everyday life, beproductive and attain a positive perception of ourselves.

However, it is Alive Surf School,  Northern Ireland’s longest running surf school, which is making a splash in improving the health and wellbeing of their customers.

Hanno, the school’s manager, who’s impressive credentials include running surf schools in countries such as Brazil, Morocco, Hawaii and Spain, advocates the improvements surfing can make to an individual’s health and wellbeing.

Hanno Windisch of Alive Surf School.

Aside from the many physical benefits of surfing such as strength, balance and flexibility, catching a wave can also help improve on our wellbeing.

It is said surfing can provide a natural remedy to reduce the risk of depression and can enhance psychological well-being by improving self-perception and self-esteem, mood and sleep quality and by reducing levels of anxiety and fatigue. So much so, in 2013 a therapy scheme was created prescribing young people in Cornwall surfing lessons as a method of non-traditional therapy.

Alive Surf School has successfully worked with many charities and non-profit organisations in the past. Many of those customers believe that Alive Surf School certified instructors are the best in using surfing as therapy, in one to one and group lessons, for individuals and groups of people with greater needs.

One of the organisations which has worked closely with Alive Surf School for several years is Autism Initiatives. They have received great feedback from parents with children and teenagers who take part in the Autism Summer Scheme with Alive Surf School.

Alive Surf School - surfer girls

Hanno said: “We often have parents tell us how amazed they are to see their children interact with instructors in the way they do when they are in the water. This is not the level of interaction parents would normally see from their children.

“It’s just fantastic and very rewarding for us as instructors to see and to get that reaction from the children and to get such great feedback from their parents is brilliant.

“One of the previous participants liked it so much that he is now coming to us on a regular basis at the weekends to help us with the school and to gain work experience.”

Alive Surf School, which is a Live It Experience It member, is based on West Strand in Portrush. People travel from far and wide to get a unique surfing experience with the school. Rated as Ireland’s number one surf school on TripAdvisor Hanno and his team of qualified instructors encourage everyone, regardless of age, to come and experience the health and wellbeing benefits surfing can offer.

To book directly with the Alive Surf School visit here. 

Live It Experience It’ is a group of journalists and travel writers who tell the story of our members. We work  collaboratively with our members, which are tourism businesses, to promote Northern Ireland through water, air and land based activities, food and drink and great places to stay. Together we let our visitors know of all of the amazing things Northern Ireland has to offer.  To become a member business in of ‘Live It Experience It’ call our office on 028 3756 8436 or please submit your information through our online form. T&Cs apply –  Sign Up Here Let us tell your story! Live It Experience It is the NW200 tourism partner for 2018. 


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Eleanor McGillie

About Eleanor McGillie

Eleanor spent eight years working in the south west of England - one of the UK's most popular tourism hotspots. During her stint working with key players in the tourism sector she developed a love for all things outdoor adventure. As a journalist she got to travel to remote corners of the world to write travel features about the experiences of a particular place. Northern Ireland's story needs to be told and needs to reach new audiences. Live It Experience It aims to attract tourists from outside Ireland, people from Ireland and people who live in Northern Ireland but aren't aware of the extent of the adventures on our own doorsteps. Eleanor is a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) at Associate Level