Brazil's silver surfers leave aches beneath waves

March 18 (Reuters) - When work is up, surf is up in Brazil. A group of pensioners take to the waves in keep-fit, keep-young surfing lessons that aim to show age is just a number.

Edmea Pereira and Francisco de Aguiar, a retired husband and wife in their 70s, take classes three times a week, for free, at the Cisco Arana surf school in the city of Santos in the state of Sao Paolo.

"All our aches and pains stay at the bottom of the sea, we no longer feel pain, and our self-esteem is elevated too," said Pereira. "When I get out of the sea I feel 10 years younger."

The classes started as a way to relieve another kind of pain for the couple. Their son went blind at 24 and they sought out Cisco Arana for specialist teaching. Seeing their son's sense of freedom on the board, they decided to give it a go themselves - and soon they were hooked.

"Ever since the first time, you take the board and you feel a sense of wellbeing," said Aguiar.

Arana's oldest student took to the waves at 80 years young. It's not the students' age that ever surprises him but the impact surfing can have on their mood and wellbeing, he said.

Learning has been in both directions, said Arana, who founded the school 25 years ago with the aim of promoting social inclusion by encouraging people to try new activities. The silver surfers' inexhaustible patience impresses him above all, he said.

(Reporting by Nacho Doce; Writing by Antonia Eklund and Brian McGee; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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