SUP seems like a new sport, but truth be told, stand up paddling has been around for quite some time. In fact, it is considered much older than surfing, with its roots traced back to Africa and South America thousands of years ago. In the 1940s, pioneer surfer Duke Kahanamoku took up stand up paddle boarding as a means to go further into the ocean and observe the waves and swells. It became popular in the 1990s when it was taught at surf schools as an alternative when there wasn’t enough swell. Yet it wasn’t until recent years that SUP entered the spotlight as a mainstream sport.
If you haven’t tried it yet, here are some good reasons why you shouldn’t waste any more time. And if you’re already a seasoned practitioner, we’re here to convince you to continue and take SUP to the next level!
Reasons to Try Stand Up Paddle Boarding
Everyone is doing it, from kids to senior citizens, yogis, celebrities and even dogs, because it’s super fun, safe, easy on the joints and has amazing therapeutic benefits. Furthermore, it is an adventure, a great way to explore nature and the great outdoors. Here are a few more reasons to try stand up paddle boarding:
SUP Thames River - Photo credit supboardermag.com
- You don’t have to live by the ocean to do it. You don’t even need waves. The nearest lake or winding river can easily become your playground. In fact, SUP is much more popular on inland bodies of water. Imagine a sightseeing tour of London with a twist – you can paddle your way down the Thames.
- Anyone can partake, regardless of age, athletic background and skills, and become a master at SUP in no time.
- Stand up paddling is similar to surfing, but not nearly as hard. You stand on what looks like an oversized surfboard and paddle your way. Easy as pie!
- The trickiest part is learning how to stand. As opposed to wave surfing, you don’t have to learn to fall, catch a wave, get barreled, get wipeout and so on.
- SUP is all about the enjoyment – the views, the sunsets, the silence, time well spent with friends.
- It is deeply relaxing, but it can be challenging if you want it to be. Think about SUP yoga, SUP racing or something totally crazy like crossing the Atlantic on your SUP board. The only limit is your imagination, so get creative!
- If you’ve ever had difficulties learning to surf or are simply afraid of the ocean, SUP is the perfect alternative.
- Stand up paddling is an original first-date idea!
- You can catch some serious waves on a SUP too!
- Some good laughs are guaranteed.
Health Benefits of Stand Up Paddle Boarding
Stand up paddling is a full-body exercise and has become a popular cross-training workout. While the leg muscles do most of the hard work, as they are the ones supporting all the weight, virtually every muscle in your body will be engaged at some point. The arms, back and shoulders are used when paddling. The core, back and abdominal muscles keep your balance. Here are some other health benefits of stand up paddling:
Photo by DPK_Photography
- SUP teaches balance. Standing upright on the board requires core strength and stability as well as leg strength.
- Stand up paddle boarding corrects your posture and improves flexibility.
- It is a low-impact exercise and there’s little chance you’ll get any injuries from practicing it. SUP is great for those recovering from an injury and anyone who wants to take it easy.
- Water therapy – water is known to soothe the mind. This is perhaps one of the top health benefits, as stress often leads to serious health problems.
- SUP improves endurance and is a great cardio workout. For a greater challenge, you can race your friends and get your heart rate up.
- It builds strength. Even though it is a low-impact exercise, engaging so many muscles in a repetitive exercise will leave some parts of your body sore. This is a good thing, it means your muscles are working out and that you are developing strength.
- Improves your cardiovascular health – stand up paddle boarding is similar to running, aerobics and various other cross-training workouts, which keep your heart in good condition, reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
- SUP helps you lose weight. You will burn calories, many, many calories. One hour of intensive paddling can burn 735 calories. An hour of casual paddling can burn up to 430 calories, which is twice the amount you would burn on an intense walk. One hour of SUP racing can burn over 1,100 calories.
Reasons to Try Stand Up Paddle Board Yoga
Photo by Benoit Mouren
I know what you’re thinking, “I can barely hold my position on the flat, dry land. How on Earth am I supposed to do it on water?” Paddle board yoga is a fast growing practice, not only in coastal areas but inland as well. Here are a few reasons to try it out:
Photo credit standupjournal.com
- It keeps you in the now. You cannot afford to lose your focus, and therefore teaches you to be present.
- By paying attention to your breath, posture, balance and synchronizing every muscle and movement, SUP yoga provides a greater sense of mindfulness.
- You don’t have to be an advanced practitioner. On a SUP, less is more. You can do simple poses and develop awareness and skills you never knew you had. Those who get into advanced yoga poses too easily will find a new challenge when bringing their practice on the stand up paddle board.
- Paddling in itself is a form of meditation. After all, meditation doesn’t have to be about sitting still. For some of us, sitting quietly is more of a burden and SUP is the answer.
Stand up paddling has many perks. Perhaps the most important remains the novelty – trying something new always has its merits, inviting you to step outside your comfort zone. It is an excellent opportunity to get outside and move your body without sweating buckets in a cramped, artificially lit gym room. So the next time you hit the beach or go to the nearest lake, grab the hottest water toy – your SUP board.
Are you planning to spend some time on the coast or near a lake anytime soon? Then make sure you add stand up paddle boarding to your to do list.