December 19, 2021 6 min read

Workout on a Paddle Board

Woman paddle boarding in Lake powell using GILI Camo

Stand up paddle boarding may seem effortless, but once you are on a board, you will soon realize it requires the use of muscles all over your body. 

For some, working out can be a chore, and jumping on a paddle board is an excellent way to not only immerse yourself in nature but also to take part in a workout that is actually enjoyable. 

So you are probably wondering, is paddle boarding really better than hitting the gym? 

We have broken down the best health and fitness benefits of paddle boarding and we’ve also included some ways to get the most out of your SUP workout. 

Reasons Why Paddle Boarding is a Great Workout

Man paddle boarding in a river using GILI Komodo sup

If you are bored with your usual workouts, it may be time to switch it up! Here are 6 reasons why stand up paddle boarding is a great all-around workout. 

It Strengthens Core Muscles

When we paddle board, we are constantly working our entire core to help us maintain our balance. 

Paddling from side to side, for example, engages your abdominal muscles and replicates the movement of Russian twists. 

The water you choose to paddle on, as well as the pace you paddle at, will determine the intensity level of your ab workout. The calmer the waters and the slower you paddle, the easier it will be. 

To increase your core strength, try paddling on choppy waters or ones with currents. The waves found in oceans, for example, will challenge your abs to work overtime to keep stability, and paddling against a current will require more strength to pull your paddle through the water. 

It Burns Calories

With all sports, the amount of energy you put in, the more calories you will burn in the process. 

When you paddle at an average walking pace on calm water, you will burn 330 to 460 calories. Twice the amount than your average walk around the neighbourhood!

People who paddle at a faster pace or those who participate in SUP touring, racing, or surfing can burn as much as 600+ calories an hour. 

For more details about how many calories you can burn while paddling, check out our blog post How Many Calories Do You Burn While Paddle Boarding?

It’s Low Impact

Low-impact sports are great for people with previous leg injuries or joint issues. When out on a paddle board, your legs stay relatively still and there is no need for sudden or harsh movements that could potentially injure yourself further. 

Mentally, low-impact sports are highly appealing and you could even find yourself excited to exercise. It is a lot easier to get out of bed to go paddle boarding than it is to get out of bed to do 100 burpees in a gym. 

It’s a Full-Body Workout

Legs of a man while paddle boarding using GILI komodo

Not only does paddle boarding work your core muscles, but it also works muscles throughout your entire body. 

The muscles in your arms, shoulders, and back engage when you paddle through the water, your knee muscles help to propel you forward and your leg muscles work hard to keep you balanced. 

The most basic paddle boarding moves are an amazing cross training workout that you don’t even need to think about. 

It is Versatile 

Paddle boarding is a versatile sport that can be used for both exercise and recreational paddling.

A SUP workout can be achieved in a few different ways, you can choose to paddle along at a moderate pace and take in the beautiful surroundings or try something more challenging like SUP yoga or interval training. 

When you have had enough working out for the day, you can hop in the water or relax and soak up the sun on the paddle board deck. 

It Builds Stamina 

The saying “time flies when you’re having fun” really applies when you are out paddle boarding. 

You can be out on the water, paddling away for hours before you realize that you have been exerting yourself the entire time. 

You do not get that with running, do you? 

Other Paddle Boarding Health Benefits

Man fishing on a GILI Manta paddle board

A SUP workout can be as mentally rewarding as it is physically and there are a few bonus health benefits that come with stand up paddle boarding. 

It Reduces Stress

Stress is inevitable in our day-to-day lives and it’s important that we relieve our minds and bodies of it as often as we can. 

Exercise is a great way to reduce built-up stress and if you hate the idea of a high-intensity workout, then the low-impact exercise of paddle boarding could be a great fit for you. 

Being out on a board, surrounded by nature and a calm environment, helps clear your mind and body of cortisol (the stress hormone) and increases the production of serotonin.

You’ll Receive All Important Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a vital ingredient to our body’s bone strength. When we spend time in the sun, our bodies absorb vitamin D, which then helps boost the production of calcium. 

You’ll Spend Time in Nature

Spending time in the great outdoors is something a lot of us need to incorporate more of into our daily lives. 

Paddle boarding is a fun activity that puts us right out there in nature and improves our overall mental and physical health. 

Being outdoors can lower our blood pressure and heart rate, while also allowing our bodies to unwind and relax.

SUP Workout Ideas

Man lifting a woman performing yoga while on a GILI paddle board

Are you stuck on what workouts you can do on your paddle board? Try these 3 different SUP exercises that will work your whole body. 

SUP Yoga

If you have ever tried yoga on dry land, you will know it is not as easy as it looks. Add a paddle board and water into the mix, and you have got yourself a full-body workout that will leave your muscles burning in no time. 

Simple yoga moves like sun salutations and tree poses will be increasingly harder on your SUP and will challenge even the most experienced yogis. 

Interval Training

Interval training will help improve your paddling skills while building up your stamina in the process. 

Like interval training on land, you will paddle leisurely for 5-10 minutes, then increase the pace for 2-3 minutes and keep alternating between the two. 

For a more intense workout, you can paddle against the current or increase the active paddling time.

Perform Ab Exercises on Your Board

Simple paddling moves are a fantastic workout for your abs, but if you’re on a hunt for a six-pack, try incorporating your usual ab routine when you are next out on your board. 

The added challenge of the water underneath you makes your abs work overtime to keep your stability as well as perform the desired ab movements. 

FAQ’S

🏆 Can you lose weight paddle boarding?

Paddle boarding is a great low-impact workout that burns significant calories. 

Without doing any special exercises and simply just standing and paddling on the board, you could be burning anywhere from 330 to 460 calories per hour!

With that being said, the more you put into your SUP workout, the more you will get out of it. 


👍 Is paddle boarding considered exercise?

Paddle boarding is an underrated exercise that is overlooked by many, it requires a combination of strength, endurance, and balance and incorporates muscles all over your body. 

Your legs, arms, back, and abs all work together to keep you stable and push you through the water. 


🏝️ Is paddle boarding cardio or strength?

Paddle boarding is both cardio and strength training. 

When you paddle, you are building up your endurance and stamina, and strengthening your upper body, legs, and core. 


❓ Does paddle boarding tone your body?

Yes! Paddle boarding works muscles all over your body and, like any other exercise, with consistent repetition, your muscles will tone up. 


📦 Is paddle boarding a good workout?

Paddle boarding is not only an amazing workout for your body, but it is also a great workout for your mind. 

The physical and mental benefits of paddle boarding are exceptional and you will be getting in a low-impact full-body workout, while also destressing and enjoying the great outdoors.

Megan Bryant
Megan Bryant

Based in Bali, her favorite SUP spot is the GILI Islands themselves. Travel is another passion of hers - she dreams to see the entire world one day.


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