I found stand up paddle boarding (SUP) this year and am hooked. It is so much better than sitting in the bottom of a wet kayak or kneeling in a canoe for me. I was going to wait until the spring to get a board, but just couldn’t wait, even through it meant my new skis aren’t going to happen this year.
Since I’m probably going to go on and on in my blogs about SUPs, I figured I’d give you my five reasons for adding SUP to my exercise and activities. Maybe I can convince you to try it or finally give and get a board.
1. Great workout
If you are a cardio junkie, the heart rate just isn’t going to be there – unless you really go all out racing style. But, paddling on the SUP hits just about every muscle. My legs are always engaged. My core is helping with stability and power in my strokes. My arms and shoulders pull me through the water. At the end of my excursions I can feel tightness everywhere, especially my upper and side abs.
Here a nice little chart from SUP Fitness that breaks it down:
You can see that touring on your SUP can be just as good as running if you are touring. I can attest to that from a few hours paddling up and down the Westport River on a windy day against the tide. On the other hand, I have days when I’m paddling around Whitehall or a family outing on the Sudbury and Concord Rivers where it is more casual but certainly more exercise than a walk.
2. Changing up the exercise routine
Calories is really only one aspect that makes SUP great. SUP gives me a chance to let my muscles do something else than pounding trails and pavement. Running 5-6 days per week is tough on my hips. After a motorcycle accident where I cracked my pelvis and primarily what got me into my chubby girl era, anything I can do to offset overuse and keep running for most of my life I’m going to do. Don’t get me wrong, getting on my SUP after a hard 4 miler is not easy. My legs give a little shake.
That is minor compared to the fact that I can get the same high on my SUP as I do on my runs. The adrenalin still pumps, especially when I get in some hairy situations between wind and current that make me have to really focus on balance and dig in. Most of the time all is well. But, there was the one time I actually fell in. The adventure can be very real.
3. Getting into my Zen Zone
Nothing beats getting on the water and having the sun pour down on you. I’m a beach girl. Have always been a beach girl. So getting out on the salt marsh rivers, deep clear lakes, and ocean edges brings me to my Zen Zone. If ever I am stressed or over worked, its the water that makes me whole again. Add in some exercise that is rhythmic and I tune into my body in the best of all environments.
SUP takes me to my happy place the way running doesn’t. The ease of paddling means that I don’t have to pay attention to my achy calves pushing me up a hill. I don’t see the path in terms of miles the way I do when I run. I just go. Don’t get me wrong, I love my running. While running is meditative for me as I turn in on myself and thoughts. SUP does the same thing but in a gentler way, like Yoga.
4. Communing with nature
Running trails, hiking and skiing mountains, snow shoeing, swimming in crystal clear lakes and basking in the glory of waves and surf is where I get my energy. Getting my body back only makes this easier. My SUP is another way that I can get outside and feel connected to nature. Its calming. The fresh air makes me feel alive. And, standing up high on the water gives me such a different perspective across the known and unknown waterways than in a kayak, swimming or lolling on a noodle.
I love that after touring for about an hour I can drop to my board to have a quick bite and drag my feet in the water. If I’ve moved farther ahead of Tom while he takes pictures in a cove, I can drop down to my board and lay back to catch some rays and float. I can feel nature all around me and I’m part of it.
5. Getting exercise while doing something fun
There is something to be said for getting in your 30-60 minutes of exercise per day by doing something you would just do for fun. SUP doesn’t feel like exercise for me. In fact, when I first tried it, the reason I did so was because it was something fun to do with Tom as he kayaked.
I keep reading about how getting your exercise doesn’t mean going to a gym, getting on a cardio machine, running and biking for miles, or taking classes. If you can find an activity to do for the same length of time that is fun, and you would do for fun, that increases your cardio and builds muscle, do it. Exercise does not have to be only about losing weight, keeping weight off, or anything having to do with body health. It shouldn’t be a chore.
There are a lot of things I like to do that are just fun and have nothing to do with if I can lose weight or maintain my weight. I ski because of the joy I feel speeding down the mountain, twisting through the glades or slamming over the bumps. Its just exhilarating. I hike because I like walking through nature and experiencing a jump in the river or waterfall. I like to back pack because it makes me feel like a kid again when I would have overnights in the woods at camp. Never do I think about how many calories I burn or personal bests. SUP is part of that category of things that are just fun to do – which means I’ll be able to and want to do forever.