SUP fitness is a popular topic for beginners. There are lots of questions to answer, how fit do you need to be to start paddling? Will paddleboarding help me get fit and stay fit? How can paddleboarding improve my fitness? Luckily, SUP is a fun, casual sport so you can start your SUP fitness journey at any level and build up the degree of difficulty from where you are. For a more in depth look at the positive impacts of SUP on fitness we turned to Tyler Read, NASM certified personal trainer and expert in kinesiology. Take it away Tyler…

man uses Thurso Surf air pump to inflate stand up paddle board on the beach before his SUP fitness routine

Getting ready for a SUP fitness routine out on the open water.

SUP Fitness for Beginners

Standup paddleboarding (SUP) is a low-impact watersport ideal for people of all body sizes and fitness levels. SUP is a perfect way to take time off of your busy life schedule to not only have an amazing experience in nature but also to get a full-body workout outside the gym. SUP works your core, chest, arms, back, and legs. SUP fitness for beginners allows newbies to enjoy cardio workouts and strength training while basking in nature.

Standup paddleboarding beginners need to stay fit, but the sport itself is great exercise. SUP beginners stand to benefit from much more than the thrill and enjoyment the activity offers outdoors. Here is how it helps you stay fit.

Burns Calories with SUP Fitness

A casual hour of paddle boarding exercise can burn between 305-430 calories. SUP World Mag says that if you put more into the activity and paddle at a casual pace, you’ll burn twice as many calories as walking at a moderate pace for an hour. If you decide to take it a notch higher and paddle for an hour without stopping, you can burn up to 708 calories. This is equivalent to the number of calories you’ll burn by running for an hour. Who would have thought that one could burn that many calories with their feet planted firmly on their board?

closeup of woman attaching Thurso Surf ankle leash before her SUP fitness routine

An ankle leash helps prevents your board from floating away.

Perfect for Core Strength and Lower Back

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) recently released a report on research that tested the benefits of SUP. The report showed that since SUP involves balancing on a board with water underneath, the muscles of the core had to fire more often so that the participants could paddle effectively and remain steady.  The researchers found out that the participants’ abdominal and back muscles were stimulated strenuously enough to boost strength when paddling at or above a light level.

The logic is simple. You are forced to consistently engage your abdominal muscles as you move the paddle from side to side. Fitness experts with online personal trainer certifications will tell you that board paddling is similar to performing Russian twists repeatedly the entire time you’re on the water. It strengthens your core and helps with your lower back since you must maintain an erect posture.

Cardio Workout

Sup fitness for beginners starts with casual paddling. Beginners tend to tire quickly and therefore spend shorter periods on the paddleboard. However, with practice, one gets used to the exercise, gains strength, and is able to paddle swiftly and for longer periods. This extended training period of breathing harder and faster, with an increased heart rate works the muscles of the respiratory system.

Full-Body Workout

As I started in the introduction, SUP works your entire body. So, if you are a beginner, complementing your workout sessions with SUP will definitely add to your fitness journey. As you paddle on the board, your feet and legs are at work to ensure your body remains stable. Your core is engaged in reinforcing your stability and balance and digging into your stroke. Your body’s upper part (shoulders, upper back, and arms) are all also chipping in to draw you forward.

In essence, every part of your body joins in the workout, yet you won’t feel the same targeted ache you may be familiar with from working out at the gym. The motion of the water and fresh natural air steals your attention so you hardly realize you’re engaged in a strenuous full-body workout.

Man standing on beach holding SUP with a Thurso Surf shoulder carry strap looking out over ocean

Paddling the open ocean under the sun definitely beats the gym.

Relieve Stress

Often we reach a plateau in our workout regimen, it calls for a change in workout activities. So, to spice things up, SUP is a great cross training alternative. You can swap between the gym, weight lifting, a run, or paddleboarding—a perfect way to have fun workouts and stay consistent throughout your training program.

Secondly, adulthood is full of challenges. Sometimes it’s work and other times it is family. There’s always something that makes us stressed. And that’s where stand up paddle boarding comes in. Nothing relieves stress like taking time out in nature. Now, when you take it up a notch and float on water while enjoying the sunshine outdoors, you’ll definitely clear your mind and feel a lot better.

Low Impact Activity

Paddleboarding beginners can rest easy as the exercise is low impact, unlike other sports like running. The chances of an injury are minimal because you do not exert any pressure on your lower back, joints, knees, or hips, making it an excellent cross training activity when preparing for other sports.

Sup fitness for beginners allows paddlers to take time off their intense workouts and try something low impact yet efficient. Injured athletes also resort to SUP to aid with the healing process. Therefore, you can incorporate SUP as part of your training regimen or replace your regular workout when nursing an injury.

woman carries Thurso Surf Waterwalker all-around SUP in ankle deep water on the beach

Enjoy a dip in the water to cool off after your SUP fitness routine.

SUP Fitness is Versatile

With SUP, you don’t have to paddle endlessly. You can try different workouts while still on the paddleboard. For starters, there’s paddleboard yoga. If you haven’t heard about it, perhaps it’s time to sign up for a class. In simple terms, it involves doing yoga on the paddleboard. You can burn between 416-540 calories when doing yoga standup paddleboarding for an hour. SUP yoga boosts your balance because you must be stable when doing the yoga poses and meditating. More on the benefits of SUP yoga here.

Another option is paddleboard surfing, in which case, you must be a surfer. Doing paddleboard surfing for an hour burns 623–735 calories. Learning to surf on your paddleboard involves a lot of swimming, so it will burn even more! Lastly, if running is your thing, you can take the exercise to the paddleboard and try interval running workouts.

Start Your SUP Fitness Journey

Given the many ways that standup paddleboarding promotes fitness, we can conclude that SUP beginners can start and maintain their fitness through this sport. SUP fitness for beginners offers much more than what meets the eye.

So, if you plan slow travel, venture out and try standup paddleboarding. Savor the beauty of nature through a different lens. You’ll differently see the world from a different perspective.

head shot of SUP fitness expert Tyler ReadAbout Tyler Read

Tyler Read is the owner of personal trainer pioneer which is a website dedicated to helping people get started in the personal training industry. He helps people discover, study, and pass their fitness exams. Check out his free videos for the latest trends.

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About the Author: Matt G.

Matt Gelgota is a traveler and all around digital marketing guy. His greatest adventure to date was the Mongol Rally, a 10,000 mile unsupported on and off-road saga from Sweden to Mongolia. He has visited more than 50 countries and has been paddling a Thurso Surf Expedition since 2018. Since then he’s had a chance to paddle board in Nepal, Thailand, Japan, and the US. When he’s not on the road he divides his time between Tokyo and Atlanta, Georgia.

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