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Red Paddle Co FAQ - Is Paddle Boarding A Good Workout?

Posted by Alex Clasper

From the shore, paddle boarding looks like a picture of tranquility and relaxation. That’s why you’re certainly not alone if you’ve been left wondering “is paddle boarding a good workout?’. In spite of how relaxing it looks (and is once you’ve found your feet) the answer to the question “is paddle boarding a good workout?” is a simple and straightforward “yes”. Paddle boarding is a great workout for your entire body, and unlike many other sports, it works your entire body.

Why is paddle boarding a good workout? Let’s find out!

Paddle boarding is great for working your core… 

Paddle boarding is great for working your whole body, but particularly your core. When you stand up paddle board, your core is constantly engaged to keep you balanced and centred. This means you’ll be building your core strength the entire time you’re paddling. If you want to challenge yourself even more, there are plenty of additional paddle board workouts that are great for your core, such as plank walkouts and rotations. Additionally, we couldn’t answer the question “is paddle boarding a good workout” without mentioning SUP yoga, which, as you can imagine, does wonders for your core. 

...As well as the rest of your body 

One of the many (and unique) benefits of stand up paddle boarding is that it works your entire body. That’s why the answer to the question “is paddle boarding a good workout” is such an easy “yes!”. Standing up on a paddle board (and staying on it!) uses many different muscle groups. The muscles in your legs are working hard to keep your feet firmly planted on the ground, your core is engaged to keep you centred and balanced, whilst your upper body (shoulders, arms and back) are worked when you paddle to propel yourself forward. Even your fingers, toes and neck are doing their part to keep you balanced! 

It burns calories & lots of them!

The reason we’re often asked “is paddle boarding a good workout” is because of how relaxing it looks. With this in mind, you may be surprised to hear that SUPing burns a lot more calories than many land activities. This is because it combines cardiovascular fitness with muscle strength. In fact, by doing an hour of leisurely paddling you could burn between 300-400 calories. As you advance your paddling skills, if you start paddling in the surf or competing in races, you could be burning as many as 1000 calories per hour. You’ll burn just as many (if not more) calories than going to the gym, and you’ll be a lot happier doing it.

Woman On A Yoga SUP Doing an Opposite Arm And Leg Raise
Woman Paddle Boarding at sea on an Elite 12ft 06inch Paddle Board

Paddle boarding is a low Impact exercise

Many land based activities such as running and team sports put a lot of strain and weight on your muscles and joints, which can be damaging in the long run. Paddle boarding, like swimming and other water based activities, is a low impact exercise, meaning it does not put high amounts of pressure on your muscles and joints. SUPing still does its job in providing you with an excellent workout, just without the added strain. As it is so gentle on your body, paddle boarding is often recommended for injured athletes who are in rehabilitation.

It boosts mental wellbeing

In answering the question of “why is paddle boarding a good workout” it’s important to emphasise the many mental benefits of this activity. Not only is it a good workout for your body, it’s also a great workout for your brain. Being out on the water is a great way to paddle away a day of stress, and help your mind and body to relax. Getting out on the water in the fresh air and the sunshine also helps to boost your Vitamin D levels which is important for keeping your bones, teeth and muscles healthy.

It’s a versatile workout

One of the reasons that SUPing is such good exercise is because it can be adapted to suit different fitness levels. Launching your inflatable SUP on calm, flat waters will provide you with a low intensity workout (but a highly effective one nonetheless). On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you’re looking for a real fitness challenge, and are an advanced paddler, paddling in the surf or racing will provide you with a high intensity workout. There are also many challenging SUP exercises, such as burpees and planks, that intermediate / advanced paddlers can practice to boost their fitness, whilst enhancing their paddling skills at the same time.