The amazing health benefits of standup paddleboarding (SUP) aren’t super well-known to most people. Mainly because the sport is still relatively new.
Here’s the basic gist for those who haven’t yet heard of SUP: You stand up, sit down, or kneel on a board — which looks very much like a surfboard — using a paddle to propel yourself through the water. It’s really easy to pick up and looks something like this:
Coasting on a paddleboard is a blast in itself, so the health benefits might not be top-of- mind. But we thought some of you might be interested in learning why paddleboarding is so good for your overall wellness.
So, we’ve outlined all the healthy things that happen inside your body, heart, and mind while you’re paddling through the water and soaking in the views. Here goes:
Standup paddleboarding is the ultimate full-body workout
Standup paddleboarding boasts all of the classic health benefits you get from cardio exercises. It improves blood pressure, lowers your risk of heart disease, decreases cholesterol, and helps control your weight.
But, uniquely, almost every muscle in your body is engaged while paddleboarding. It’s both a cardio and strengthening exercise.
You can think about it as two workouts happening at once. Your upper body — your arms, back, and shoulders — propel your paddle through the water. By paddling with both sides, you’re engaging the full range of upper body muscles.
Meanwhile, your lower body — your thighs, hamstrings, glutes, and core — work hard to maintain balance on the board as you shift your weight and paddle forward. Importantly, this tension is happening throughout the workout, causing you to exercise muscles for longer than you might otherwise. As a result, you’ll see a lot of standup paddleboarders with toned lower bodies and core muscles, similar to surfers and skiers.
It’s also super low impact
Standup paddleboarding is a gentle activity that’s healing to your body, not straining. It’s restorative and therapeutic: an activity you can keep perfecting well into your golden years!
The chance of injury is incredibly low. In fact, much like swimming or biking, standup paddleboarding is often recommended for injured athletes making a recovery. Get out there and paddle as much as you desire!
Standup paddleboarding is medicine for the mind
It’s become a cliche by this point: water is the elixir of life, Mother Nature’s great healer.
But it’s also true. There’s something inherently soothing, even medicinal, about being out on the water. The sound of the waves, the natural, rocking rhythms of the lake or ocean flowing under you — water simply puts your mind at ease. It harmonizes and balances you. From Herman Melville to Kelly Slater, there’s a long history of people articulating the awesome feeling of wellness that comes over human beings in the water.
And recently, these anecdotes have been backed up by Blue Mind Science, quantifying the positive cognitive impact of water. Even cooler? These studies show that just being near water — literally being close enough to see or hear a natural body of water — can release a “flood of neurochemicals that promote wellness, and increase blood flow to the brain and heart and induce relaxation.”
Add to those health perks the fact that you’re out in the sunshine, replenishing your immune system with Vitamin D and fresh air — and you’d be hard-pressed to find a more comprehensively beneficial workout than standup paddleboarding.
Standup paddleboarding unleashes your creativity
Being out on the water puts your brain in a literal flow state, allowing you and your ideas to move in different directions, to converge and diverge, fluidly.
It’s one of the few places where you can let go of technology and be completely in the moment. Where you can break free from formalities and deadlines and enjoy your natural surroundings. (I think we’d all agree this is more crucial than ever before during the bombardment of news during COVID-19).
And unless you’re snapping a quick picture of a waterside view or taking a selfie while coasting into the sunset, odds are you really aren’t thinking about your phone while paddleboarding.
Stuck on a problem at work or facing a challenge at home? Paddleboarding might just be the scientifically-backed refrain and meditative space you need to clear your head and find the best solution.
Standup paddleboarding is whatever you want it to be!
One of the best things about SUP is that you can go entirely at your own pace. Break a sweat and race your friend to the coast, or laze down the lake while enjoying an IPA.
Coast when you want to. Lie down and stretch out if the mood strikes you. Want to work on your tan with a good book? Go for it. Standup paddleboarding is whatever the heck you want it to be.
Speaking of which…standup paddleboard yoga, anyone?
This might sound challenging, we know, daunting even. But it’s much easier than you’d think. Reason being that standup paddleboards are incredibly sturdy and stable. Doing yoga on a paddleboard is much closer to, say, balancing on level ground at your standard yoga studio than standing on a surfboard.
The combination of the water and yoga makes for a wonderful meditative experience. You’ll enjoy the natural healing powers of the lake or ocean, while stretching your body and focusing your mind with beginner yoga poses.
But please, don’t try to do this (unless you’ve seriously got the goods)
So, where are you gonna go standup paddleboarding?
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