Stand Up Paddle Boarding as a Workout?
Water Sports often double as effective, low resistance workouts, and stand up paddle boarding is a great choice for this. Stand up paddle boarding engages your entire body, provides for an intense cardio session, and tones your lower body more than a kayak would. Quite literally, your entire body is working to balance itself and remain griped to the board.
Types of Workout and Calories Burned
How many calories you burn paddle boarding will be determined largely on the type of paddling and waters you’re working with. It’s been estimated that the average individual burns approximately 300-400 calories per hour casually paddling–the equivalent of biking several miles. Practicing Yoga while stand up paddle boarding increases the calorie count to 400-500 calories per hour, and aggressively paddling or full-on racing can burn as many as 1,000 calories per hour!
Rougher water conditions such as strong tides or high winds will also increase calories burned as your body adjusts to balance itself against multiple opposing forces. If you’re experiencing high winds, you can always paddle the first half of your session heading into the direction of the wind–making the trek back much easier when you’re tired later.
Stand up paddle boarding is primarily a cardio activity that activates every muscle in your body. Your arms will certainly receive a workout as you use the paddle to make large, sweeping movements, but people always assume this is the part of the body getting the most intense workout. As you row left and right, your abdominal muscles will contract to keep your body balanced on the board. Your core is responsible for balance, which is the very backbone of stand up paddle boarding.
When your arms paddle, your rotator cuffs and deltoids get a nice stretch and workout. Your back is engaged every time you bring the paddle up, and your calves will be continuously working to keep your lower half stabilized. Even the muscles in your feet will work to grip the board and center yourself–especially if you’re doing Yoga.
Effectiveness and Modifications
The American Council on Exercise (ACE) released a 2016 study studying the effectiveness of stand up paddle boarding as a workout. The first part of the study found the activity sufficiently stimulated abdominal and back muscles, but obliques were not as activated.2 However the beauty of stand up paddle boarding is you can easily alter technique based on specific fitness or muscle group goals. If you’re looking to work on your obliques, dig the paddle deep into each stroke and focus on the twisting motion of your core. A slight bend in the knees will activate your quads and glutes further.
The second part of the ACE study measured how effective stand up paddle boarding is as a cardiovascular activity. The results found that subject’s cardio performance was highly variable; some novice paddle boarders burned less calories (perhaps due to lack of skill or coordination) while other novices burned more than expected.2 It can be expected that any paddler will increase the calories they expend though as they increase their individual skill level in the sport.
Like any workout, it’s about the energy you put into it, but stand up paddle boarding provides huge returns on an activity that feels more effortless than it really is. Paddle boarding is a way to slash through calories while providing a fun and scenic workout that doesn’t feel like a workout. You can alter stroke, speed, and activity type to fit your personal exercise needs. It also cannot be said enough how important it is to get outside and enjoy the natural healing benefits of nature and sunshine. Stand up paddle boarding is a surefire way to conquer your workout–and enjoy it too.
(1) https://www.supworldmag.Com/sup-fitness-how-many-calories-does-paddle-boarding-b urn/#prettyPhoto/8/ (2) https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/professional/prosource/august-201 6/5997/ace-sponsored-research-can-stand-up-paddleboarding-stand-up-to-scrutiny