We recently shared how one of our members used the pandemic to get into a new activity, mountain biking. With temperatures rising, it’s a great time to get into stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) not just to enjoy the great outdoors during the summer, but for the health benefits too!
Let’s start with the equipment you’ll need. You can opt for either a traditional hard board, which is fiberglass wrapped around a foam core, along with fins to help guide the board in the water. If space or storage is a concern, there’s also the inflatable variety, which can roll up to the size of a sleeping bag.
A paddleboard is usually:
- 8-12 feet long
- 28-32 inches wide
- 4-5 inches thick
Beginners will want boards that are wider, longer, and thicker, to give them stability. Just as in surfing, as you improve you may opt for boards that are thinner and shorter.
Paddles are made of plastic, aluminum, wood, or carbon fiber, with handles, blades, and shaft shapes that vary. While a general rule of thumb is that the paddle should be 6-10 inches above the height of the paddler, when sizing a paddle, the more specific considerations are:
- Your height
- Your arm length
- The dimensions of the paddleboard
- The type of SUP you will be doing (flat water vs surf, for example)
You will want a leash – this is a cord tied to your ankle so that if you fall off your board the board won’t get too far away from you. You’ll also want a storage bag, as most dings and blemishes don’t happen in the water.
Finally, in the United States, paddleboards are considered vessels, so you’ll need to have a personal flotation device available somewhere on the board (though you don’t have to wear one). But if you bring kids with you, they will be required to wear one at all times.
While from a distance, gentle paddling on the water may not look like a great fitness activity, SUP is actually a whole body workout, completely controlled by you.
It is a low-impact cardio workout. You can burn double the calories you would on a leisurely walk, yet it’s not strenuous. A leisurely paddle for an hour (defined as being able to carry on a conversation with a companion) can burn between 300-450 calories!
There’s also something in our brains about being near water. Water has a stress-relieving, sedative quality. It buys us time and space to think.
And that full body workout? Consider:
- You need your leg muscles to keep you stabilized on the board
- You need your back, arms, and shoulders to paddle
- You need your core, back, and abs to stay balanced
If you’re looking for those six-pack abs, SUP is a legitimate way to augment your regular workout routine.
Just as with mountain biking, SUP is a fitness activity that doubles as fun for the family. Summer is the perfect time to try it out!
Have you been SUPing for a while? Tell us about it in the comments.