With stand up paddle boarding taking off in the last few years, more people than ever are getting into the sport. For good reason! The health benefits of stand up paddle boarding are outstanding.
I recall the first time I rented a paddleboard for a couple hours, I came back sore in places I didn’t know were humanly possible! I felt exhilarated and totally refreshed. The workout you can get by simply jumping on a board and paddling around for a couple hours is really one of the best things you can do for your body and mind.
Let’s take a look at some of the health benefits:
- Improves Balance. One of the best ways to improve your balance is to stand upright on a paddle board and use your entire body to keep yourself from falling in. Beginners may find this a bit tricky. But once you get used to engaging your core, and using your legs to dig into the board as you paddle, your balance will undoubtedly improve. This doesn’t just help you get better on the paddle board, but will translate into better overall balance in other athletic pursuits. Improved balance will help with cycling, snowboarding, soccer, football and just about any other sport.
- Increases Core Strength. Core stability is key on a paddle board. The entire time you are standing on the board you will need to engage your core muscles to keep balanced. You also need to keep your knees slightly bent which benefits leg strength. The core workout is not just good for the abdominal muscles. It also benefits the often neglected lower back muscles as well.
- Full Body Workout. This truly is a full body activity. Most sports target several areas of the body, but few have the overall benefits that stand up paddle boarding provides. Paddling hard puts a lot of stress on the entire upper body, particularly the arms, shoulders and back, while maintaining balance hits your core and leg muscles. Cardio also comes into play when paddling for an extended period of time which will burn calories.
- Stress Reducer. Cardio workouts are scientifically proven to boost endorphins and lower stress in the body. Increasing your heart rate for an extended period of time is one of the best things you can do for your cardiovascular health. Combine that with fresh air, cooling water, and the great outdoors, and you have a recipe for total stress relief. When I’m particularly stressed out, nothing boosts my mood more than jumping on the paddle board for a couple hours.
- Low impact. Many people find paddle boarding to be invaluable as an injury rehab exercise. Paddling allows you to get a good workout while having very low impact on the joints, tendons and ligaments. Being out on the water means that if you fall, your met with forgiving water rather than hard ground. Swimming is also one of the best activities for injury rehab, and while out on the water it’s easy to combine the two.
- Endurance. Just like with any intense sport, muscular endurance will benefit greatly from SUP. Beginners will find their muscles totally gassed after a session on the water. This is normal and will decrease over time, until you can paddle for long periods of time without much soreness after. Muscular strength with also increase. Especially in the back and shoulders, and in people who don’t already strength train regularly.
- Sunlight and Ocean. Being out in the sun and around the ocean is huge health benefit. Nowadays it’s common knowledge that increasing your sunlight exposure is a great way to boost your health. Our bodies create vitamin D directly from sunlight, a vitamin which is very hard to find naturally in food. Vitamin D has a myriad of health benefits. Everything from regulating the immune system to boosting mood and assisting with weight loss.
Fewer people know that swimming in ocean water is a health boosting activity. In fact, Hippocrates first used the term “thalassotherapy” to describe the healing effects of seawater. Swimming in the ocean is said to increase immune system function, improve circulation and the magnesium rich water helps ease skin inflammation. It is also highly restorative to be out in nature and is a great way to “recharge the batteries” drained by our modern lifestyle.
- Yoga. A growing trend in the SUP community is paddle board yoga -basically just doing yoga on a paddleboard. This adds a whole other dimension of challenge and fun to a regular yoga workout. Balancing your body on the board while holding various yoga poses is tough at first, but with enough practice can be a very rewarding exercise. Specialized SUP boards made just for yoga area available. They tend to be fairly wide and long in order to provide enough surface area to balance easily.
Hopefully this inspired to you get out there and give this amazing sport a go. The health benefits of stand up paddle boarding are plentiful. Plus there are a wide range of activities you can do on a paddleboard – anything from a leisurely paddle on calm water, to surfing the waves, to landing a monster fish. Go give it a shot!