It’s no secret that paddle boarding is an amazing workout, but just how many calories will you burn on your SUP? We’ve got you covered with everything you need to know. The numbers make one thing clear: whether your preferred form of SUP is yoga, racing, or even all around paddling, SUP is a healthy choice. And let’s face it: breaking a sweat in the great outdoors is a million times more fun than exercising in a crowded, dimly-lit gym.
If you’re an intermediate or advanced paddler, you can burn a ton of calories while paddle boarding. If you’re a beginner and it’s a struggle to keep your balance - you won’t burn anywhere near as many calories.
To become a calorie burning machine on your SUP, you need to master the proper paddling technique, and you’ll need to be able to to maintain your balance. If you picked up a SUP for the exercise benefits, start practicing now and get some experience on the water.
The SUP Calorie numbers you find in this article and other places on the web assume you’re an intermediate to advanced paddler and you can comfortably balance and paddle your board.
The proper paddle board stroke will work your core, back, arms and legs. If you practice the proper paddling technique you’ll be able to hit the caloric goals in this article, and you’ll also cover a lot of distance on the water.
Topics Covered in this Article
First things first: yes, stand up paddle boarding is a good workout! And even better, it’s a fun workout. You’ll always be motivated to exercise when your chosen form of cardio is SUP. Paddle boarding isn't hard, and like any workout, it’s what you make it. The more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it - just like so many other aspects of life. And if you’re ready to give SUP your all, you can definitely expect a healthy return on those efforts.
On average, you’ll burn 330 to 460 calories per hour while recreational paddle boarding. That’s twice the calories you’d burn walking your neighborhood! The average, recreational (all around) paddle is done on calm water with light winds at a walking pace.
If you typically do high-impact workouts that take a toll on your joints, all around SUP is a smart addition to your fitness routine. All around paddle boarding is low-impact, and it feels way more relaxed than your average workout.
You’ll burn 620 to 745 calories per hour while SUP surfing, and it’s an excellent form of cross training for traditional surfers.. Even if you’re not a surfer, it’s an invigorating and challenging way to spend a cardio session. The more intense the waves you’re surfing, the higher the calorie burn will be. (Reminder: don’t chase dangerous waves in daredevil mode just to shed more cals!)
SUP yoga is a wonderful mindfulness tool, and a challenging way to gather with friends over fitness. You’ll burn 410 to 530 calories per hour while performing SUP Yoga. You’ll improve your balance and flexibility while engaging your core, which your body will thank you for.
SUP touring is performed at a faster pace than recreational paddling, so you’ll burn 610 to 700 calories per hour during your session. Frequent paddlers, your hobby will help you shed those winter pounds. When you get into SUP touring and adventuring, you’ll burn calories without ever having to see the inside of a boring hotel gym. And of course, you’ll see your destination in a whole new way while you’re at it! Back in your hometown,
Got a competitive side? Meet your new favorite outlet. SUP racing is amazing cardio, and it burns 720 to 1130 calories per hour. It’s a fantastic way to burn tons of calories quickly while soaking in the thrill of competition.
SUP fishing has two main components: the time you spend camped out on your SUP with a fishing pole in hand, and the time you spend paddling to and from your fishing spot. Both have a very different calorie burning profile. While fishing itself is pretty stationary, paddling to your fishing spot burns way more calories than if you were traveling to your fishing spot in a motorized boat.
The cool thing about SUP fishing is that it has emotional health benefits as well, like mindfulness and bonding with your fishing buddies. And lest we forget, emotional health is just as important as physical health! You can burn at least 135 calories up to 430 calories per hour while SUP fishing.
Yes, you can lose weight while paddle boarding, but the relationship between weight loss and exercise is more complex than you might think. SUP, or any workout for that matter, is not an automatic guarantee that you’ll lose weight. Losing weight is more about your overall lifestyle habits, including the nutritional content of the foods you eat, how much activity you get, and even your genetics.
Losing weight requires burning more calories than you take in (a caloric deficit). Exercise will help you reach that point more easily simply because it increases your calorie output. Of course, exercise is so important to your overall health and longevity, so you should regularly work out even if you’re not aiming to lose weight.
Can SUP compete with other forms of fitness? Here’s how it measures up.
Surfing: 430 calories
Biking: 485 calories
Running: 670 calories
Swimming: 820 calories
Spin Class: 741 calories
Walking Your Dog: 205 calories
Zumba: 600 calories
Skateboarding: 372 calories
Now that you’ve seen how many calories SUP can burn, there are other factors that will influence your actual, personal, calorie count while on the water.
Don’t think too hard about this. If your goal is to burn as many calories as possible, then make sure you’re comfortable on your SUP, use the correct paddling technique, and keep your session as intense as you safely can.
The exact amount of calories you’ll burn while stand up paddleboarding depends on several different factors. Your age, weight, time spent on the water, and heart rate all affect your calorie count. If you want to do the math for yourself, read below. If not - skip to the next section!
You can calculate calories burned during stand up paddle boarding, or any physical activity, with a simple math equation. (Ahem, relatively simple, that is.) First, you note the MET value of the activity. MET stands for the Metabolic Equivalent of a Task, and it’s a measure of how much energy you’ll expend on a given activity. for SUP, the MET value is 6.0, which means it’s a moderate-to-vigorous intensity activity.
Then, calculate the number of calories burned per minute, and multiply your result by the number of minutes spent on the board.
Here’s what it looks like in action:
FORMULA: (MET 6.0 x body weight in kg x 3.5) / 200
Here’s an example:
Let’s say you weigh 150 pounds and spent 45 minutes on your SUP today. First, you’d convert your weight from pounds to kg.
150 lbs = 68 kg
Then, you’d plug it all in:
(6.0 x 68 x 3.5) / 200 = 7.14 calories burned per minute
Once you know how many calories you burned per minute, you multiply it by how much time you spent on the activity:
7.14 x 45 minutes = 321 calories burned in 45 minutes
Use this calorie calculator to find an estimate of the calories you’ll burn on your SUP.
We believe that SUP is the “unicorn” of workouts. It combines the perks of dozens of forms of exercise in one go. With SUP, you have it all: cardio, muscle toning, core strength, flexibility, balance, fresh air, mindfulness, and of course, fun! If you’re seeking to get fit and have fun, try exercising regularly on your paddle board.
Again, proper paddling technique is important for maximum core activation. The American Council on Exercise conducted this study to measure the fitness benefits of paddle boarding.
They found that, during moderate paddling, your core and back are engaged enough to increase strength. However, in order to engage your obliques (the muscles to the side of your core), you need to increase the intensity of paddling to strengthen these muscles.
For beginner paddlers, we teach them how to paddle at a moderate pace, without twisting your core. When you feel comfortable on your board, and you have good technique, it’s time to improve your paddle stroke.
Remember how we said that you’ll get out of SUP what you put into it? Paddle boarding can be an amazing full-body workout, engaging the larger muscles of your core, back and legs, if you are paddling with the proper technique. One way to put more into it is to ensure you’re getting the best SUP workout possible. Here’s how.
Paddle from your core, not your arms. Bend your knees slightly for balance and look straight ahead when paddling. Use your back muscles when you paddle.
SUP can be as vigorous or as low-key as you make it, so pay attention to how you distribute your energy on the board. Build momentum as you paddle so you don’t have to waste all your strength on trying to keep moving.
Get some protein before or after your SUP session, and stretch on land after each workout to help your muscles recover. Throw some healthy snacks into a dry bag in case you need a quick energy boost.
Make sure you’re using the right paddling methods. Don’t just use your arms - use your back muscles and shoulders while keeping your torso straight.
When you’re paddling, twist your core and turn your shoulders with force. Make sure your stroke is long and powerful. Not only will this engage your entire core, including your obliques, you’ll also move much faster on the water. This advanced paddling stroke will increase your paddling power, efficiency, and will also burn more calories!
Here are some quick tips to improve your paddling:
If you need a paddling deep dive, we’ve got breakdowns of the must-know paddle strokes in our article: how to paddle board.
While SUP is a full-body workout, it certainly engages certain muscles more than others. SUP will exercise your abs, back muscles, shoulders, triceps, and biceps - especially during paddle strokes. Your quadriceps will get a great workout as you balance on the board, because on a SUP, every day is leg day.
A word of advice: if calorie burn and weight loss are your goal with SUP, make sure you put a lot of focus into how much fun you’re having.
If that sounds counterintuitive, hear us out: when you prioritize having a good time, you’ll be much more motivated to keep hitting the water and giving it your all. It’s hard not to enjoy yourself on a SUP, so something tells us you won’t have too much trouble there. Invite your friends to join you, and give each SUP session your best so you’ll get the quality workout you deserve.
If you are trying to lose weight, don’t forget to keep in mind how many calories you’re consuming. SUP is not a magic bullet for weight loss, but it will help you lose weight along with a proper diet. Do you SUP for exercise? Let us know!
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