The Science of Surfing

At Cal State San Marcos’s College of Education, Health & Human Services (CEHHS), surfing is more than a recreational sport. Students and teachers in the Kinesiology department are studying the science of surfing. “Kinesiology is one of our fastest growing majors,” explained Marilyn Huerta, Public Affairs Communication Specialist. “Our students have the opportunity to research a recreational sport like surfing and exhibit how it benefits our physical and psychological health.”

The program is taught by Jeff Nessler and Sean Newcomer, and the study aims to determine the physiological benefit of surfing for the average recreational surfer. Previous studies have focused on competitive professional surfers. Students can get involved in the project by taking Introductory Exercise Physiology 326. The study includes research participants who surf while wearing waterproof heart rate monitors connected to a video camera that films them while out in the water. Research continues in an on-campus pool.


“Situated within the action sports capital of the world, Cal State San Marcos provides the ideal environment for research and development with industry partners,” said Dean Janet Powell. “As dean, my goal is to support the development of the nation’s first action sports research center to serve the unique needs of our region by conducting high-quality research in our laboratories and training students to be leaders and innovators in their field.”

In addition to Kinesiology, CEHHS also covers Education, Human Development, Nursing, Social Work, and Speech-Language Pathology. The programs all focus on the intersection of science, education, and communities. Learn more at