Fresh air? Check. Getting some exercise? Check. Getting both of these things while cruising along a body of water and being surrounded by nature? Check again! These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the benefits of paddle boarding.
Trying to balance on a floating surface without tumbling into the water may look a bit daunting at first. However, once you get the hang of it, it becomes as instinctive as riding a bike.
This increasingly popular form of recreation has a host of physical, mental and even spiritual benefits to offer you. All you need is access to water where it’s safe to go paddling (and a paddle board).
In this article I’ll share what I consider to be the top 7 reasons to grab a board and paddle. They’re sure to have you setting off to your nearest lake, river, or sea.
7 Amazing Benefits of Paddle Boarding
While everyone knows that paddle boarding is great exercise (and I’ll touch on that), I wanted this list to be different than others available on the web.
In this list of Paddle Boarding benefits I’ll try to focus on some of the less-tangible benefits (mental, psychological, etc.) here in addition to speaking to the physical health advantages of paddle boarding like…
1. Work on your Core, Posture, and Muscle Tone
First things first: while many people ask if paddle boarding is hard, the truth is that it is a great way to get some exercise.
Depending on what body of water you are on, you can choose what kind of workout you want to get. You can go hard-and-fast or choose a more relaxed pace.
Besides doing some cardio, paddling while you stand up works wonders for strengthening the core. It also offers a way to counteract the bad posture that many of us develop from hunching over all day at our desk jobs.
Muscle groups in the legs, abdomen, shoulders, and arms are worked as well while paddle boarding. This makes one of the benefits of paddle boarding that it is a way to work on virtually all areas of your body at once … something that can be hard to get in other forms of exercise.
2. Gently Build up Your Strength, Stamina, and Flexibility
Not only is paddling a refreshing form of outdoor exercise, it’s gentle enough to work for people who can’t do high-impact sports.
Paddle boarding is considered an alternative for active people who have injuries from running, martial arts, or other high-impact sports. Among the many paddle boarding benefits you’ll enjoy is that it’s an activity that the whole family can have fun doing together. At the same time, it still provides enough stimulation to improve your overall strength, cardio fitness, flexibility, and balance.
Stand-up paddle boarding (SUPing) is recommended as a complimentary activity for people who enjoy yoga and surfing. Many of the same skills are used – like core strength and good balance – but with a paddle board, you can even combine all three of these activities into one!
3. Explore the World in a New Way
Whether you’re SUPing along a gently-flowing river in the park, or racing across a large lake in the mountains, being on a paddle board just opens the doors for adventure to find you.
Paddle boarding in a quiet lake or stream might grant you the experience of watching the wildlife at the water’s edge. If you’re paddle boarding along the coast of Hawaii, you could witness a pod of humpback whales.
4. Escape into Nature (you need it more than you think)
Take a few seconds to think about how much time you spend indoors, sitting at a desk, staring at a computer screen.
Maybe you don’t have a desk job … how much time do you spend driving in your car? Or lounging around on the sofa?
All of these are common features of the modern sedentary lifestyle, and they take their toll on our health – both physical and mental.
Physically, not moving around enough can result in obesity and heart problems, just to name a couple of adverse effects.
A lack of physical activity can also compound mental health issues such as depression or anxiety. It can even lead to dementia later in life.
If you live in a crowded city, you know what comes with being surrounded by people, noise, and traffic all the time. Perhaps you live in a small town and have pristine nature right on your doorstep, but you don’t often make time to go out and immerse yourself in it.
Sure, going out into nature takes time and effort, but trust me, it’s worth it for the short and long-term benefits.
Even the short-term relief that comes from escaping into a forest, park, or the seaside can be uplifting. It can turn a tough day into a good one. Taking your paddle board with you on your little escape can enhance these small, necessary escapes that restore and rejuvenate you.
5. Meditate and Let Your Mind Unwind
Imagine paddling out to the middle of a lake surrounded by pine forest. You hear nothing but the sound of water softly lapping against your board, and some birds calling to each other in the distance.
When was the last time you could just stop and bask in such tranquility?
There’s something undeniably soothing about wide open spaces and water, especially when you’ve got things on your mind.
For most of us, the chance to be still and pay attention to your own thoughts and feelings is a luxury.
With the endless demands and hectic pace of modern life, many people hardly have the time for introspection. That’s why it’s more important than ever to make the time to meditate, clear your mind, and try to find balance in your life.
If we don’t make any effort to keep stock of what’s going on inside ourselves, we can easily become overwhelmed by stress.
These kinds of negative emotions accumulate quickly and chip away at our mental health.
What could be more serene than gliding across water, gazing out over the horizon, and just letting go of all the thoughts that gnaw at your inner peace?
6.Solitude vs Social: You Don’t Have to Paddle Alone
Sometimes you may need some peace and quiet when you head out with your paddle board, but this doesn’t mean that you have to go solo all the time.
While it’s usually easiest to stick to one person on a board at a time, I’ve seen people go out paddling with a child or even with their dog for company!
Some paddle boards are built bigger for added stability, which is probably the best option if you want to take your kid or pet out on the water with you. Just remember to get your passenger kitted out with a life jacket before you set off.
7.From Sunrise to Sunset: It’s Always a Good Time to Go Paddle Boarding
Depending on your mood and schedule, any time of day can be a good time to go paddling. Whether you do it at dawn or wait until dusk, you could have a completely different experience based on when you choose to go.
If you work a 9-5 job then you can go at sunrise or sunset, before or after work.
While you may not always have the energy to get up extra early, I recommend that you try (at least once) to go paddling as the sun is coming up.
At this time of day the air is super fresh and you can start your day to the soundtrack of birdsong, before hooting cars and ringing telephones become the predominant background noise.
Going paddle boarding after work offers a different kind of delight: if you’re lucky you could find yourself on water reflecting the orange and yellow hues of a golden sunset.
While mid-day adventures are always great, for me starting or ending my day on the water adds peace and tranquility that lingers better than any other times of day.
But if daytime is the only time that will work for you, you’re in luck! You have the added bonus of getting your daily Vitamin D dose from spending some time in the sun while cruising around. Or, if it’s an overcast day, you’ll get to experience being on the water when it’s a steely grey mirror of the sky.
My Favorite Thing About Paddle Boarding
Whatever the weather is, thanks to your unusual vantage point of being on the water, you’ll often get the feeling that you’re witnessing vistas that are private and special.
When I return to the “real world” from time on the water I often have the feeling that I’ve seen around a corner that many of my colleagues haven’t, and I’ve found that this feeling of contact with and proximity to what’s special in our world gives me a feeling of confidence and strength that lingers long after my paddle board is stored and dry.
No matter where you choose to go paddling, the water is always there to help you unplug from all your stress, and offer you a space to simply exist in the present moment.