Doctors in Biarritz, France are making waves with a progressive new way of treating illness: prescribing surfing and paddleboard courses, as well as Nordic walking and swimming sessions.
Biarritz is one of Europe’s surfing hotspots, and the pilot scheme is being carried out by 20 doctors in the town as part of an initiative to move away from pharmaceutical drugs towards natural treatments.
Patients have been prescribed fresh air and adrenaline for a wide range of problems, from depression to back pain and heart disease. So far, the scheme is a huge success: in some cases, participants have been able to come off traditional medicine altogether.
The initiative was the brainwave of the regional national Olympic committee and is funded by Biarritz’s local government and two private health associations. Patients are only required to pay 10 euros ($10.59) per session, and doctors say that the vast majority continue with the sport after the 12-week course has finished.
Biarritz doctor Guillaume Barucq, himself a big fan of surfing, told THE TELEGRAPH that the initiative is “miraculous.” He said:
“The waves that break in the water or on the sand break molecules that liberate negative ions. They improve the oxygenation of tissue, your mood, tone, quality of sleep and concentration.”
Barucq said the scheme aims to encourage “cultural change in a country where 90 percent patients who come out of the doctor’s surgery do so with a medical prescription.”