Why is stand-up paddle-boarding so popular and fiercely loved? Because it’s equally great for body, mind, and soul. In short: SUP makes you healthier and happier.
With stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) continuously growing in popularity, have you been wondering if you should jump on the paddle wagon? Here are 15 reasons why we think you could benefit from paddle boarding.
And if you’re already a SUP enthusiast, you know it makes you feel awesome. But have you ever thought why? This list might clarify why you love it so much, help you appreciate some of its benefits more, and give you inspiration to help someone else get on (the) board.
Reasons Why Stand-Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) Is So Great
1. It’s surprisingly easy to learn. It’s not as challenging as learning how to ride a bicycle or how to swim. However, you should probably know how to swim if you get on a SUP (you know, in case you fall in). Most people are comfortable on a SUP within minutes. You don’t have to be an athlete or any particular age group to get started.
2. You choose your level of exercise and environment: paddle hard against the choppy sea, catch a big waves as you paddle surf, gently float down a river, move swiftly across a lake, get into racing, or do that yoga in a cove, etc.
3. Excellent physical exercise for a healthier body.
- Strength: Stand-up paddle-boarding is excellent for core strength, since the body’s core muscles are responsible for keeping balance. But legs and feet-muscles (!) are also getting busy and stronger. Of course, arms and shoulders will get a major workout if you’re actually paddling and not just floating down a river.
- Cardio workout: No matter if you paddle hard or just gently moving, paddling will benefit your heart, lungs, overall health and stamina… and burn calories.
- Low impact exercise: especially compared to outdoorsy cardio exercise like running, which can be hard on the joints.
4. Generally improved mental abilities. The physical exercise improves cognitive abilities by “waking up the brain” and by reducing distracting stress and anxiety. New studies also find a direct connection between being active and a protein that “rejuvenates the brain” – helping with memory and focus.
5. Generally improved mental health. The exercise alone (not to mention the beautiful nature or other SUP-related factors) is known to reduce anxiety, depression, and tension – and uplift mood and motivation.
6. Boost to self-esteem, confidence, and sense of independence. You don’t need anyone else to go paddle boarding, and there’s no need for competition with anyone else. It’s just you standing tall as you glide along calm waters that makes you feel contented bliss. Or it’s just you mastering the waves that makes you feel empowered.
7. “Turning off the monkey-brain chatter” or “natural moving meditation“. Whatever you want to call it, while part of your brain is focused on keeping balance and the methodical, rhythmic motion of paddling, it turns off some of the “monkey-brain” chatter that so often pulls us out of the here and now. Paddle-boarding keeps your subconscious busy enough to clear your mind and provide a feeling of zen. Like other meditation, this can help you bring calm and balance into your life – or it can help you focus on something you need to figure out.
8. Being in nature – which is good for the soul. Connecting to nature and its soothing rhythms, makes people feel grounded, present, alive, more well-balanced – and happier. Paddle boarding offers many ways to get closer and feel more connecting to nature.
- The obvious: you’re simply outside in nature – water below, sky above, fresh air in your lungs.
- On a paddle board you get to explore places you couldn’t reach otherwise – and now you have them all to yourself. Case and point: seeing baby pelicans on channel islands.
- It’s all in the angle! Standing up on a board gives you a much better perspective than in a canoe or other floating device. A wider view without blinding reflection will allow YOU to see that manatee those people in the kayak are totally oblivious to. Ever watched sting rays glide by below you while you’re standing safely above them? Wow.
- You’re so quiet – you can approach wildlife without disturbing them in their natural habitat.
- Being part of the natural flow as you float along a river or the tides or catch a wave back to shore.
9. SUP is so much more than “just paddling”. It’s easy to combine with something else that makes you happier: e.g., yoga, birding, fishing (especially sight-fishing), socializing, meditating, snorkeling, etc.
10. You can bring your dog! Not sure exactly why, but for some reason dogs seem quite content to be on a paddle board – because the dogs we know could just jump off and swim back to shore if they wanted to.
11. You can bring a cooler with drinks and snacks since the board is flat and probably has elastic bands for fastening.
12. SUPs are versatile and expandable. All depends on what you like and how you want to use your board. You can get an inflatable stand-up paddle board (iSUP) and carry it in a backpack up a mountain – or you can get a board that allows for attaching accessories, e.g., chair, umbrella, fishing pole holder, motor (yup – you don’t even have to paddle).
13. All the physical benefits of being outside: Vitamin D from the sun, more oxygen, and (especially important right now during the covid-19 pandemic) a safer way to be social by being the circulating fresh air.
14. Costs. Some might say paddle-boarding is not expensive to get into – with prices for a new board as low as $300. Well, that’s definitely cheaper than a boat – but a lot more expensive than an inner tube. So that benefit is debatable.
However, you can definitely try out a SUP for cheap via a rental or even for free. If you have a friend with a board, they’re probably happy to let you try it. They’ve probably been trying to convert you for a while, which is why you’re reading this.
Maybe your local water sports store might offer free tests and classes. For example, where we are (on the Gulf Coast between Clearwater Beach and St. Pete), Watersports West offers free paddle-board demos several times a week.
15. You can pretend to “go exercising”– when ultimately you’re just sitting on your board in the water chatting with a friend one board over. Hey, we think hanging out with friends in nature is a legit Happier Place. Enjoy!
One additional timely benefit for these coronavirus pandemic days: Besides being in great outdoors where airflow is ideal, social distancing while having fun with others is much easier on a SUP because you’re naturally separated by at least the width of your boards.
Now that we created this whole list of what’s so great about stand-up paddle boarding – and not just SUP physical health benefits, but also how it improves mental and emotional well-being and soothes the soul… we realized we forgot the main thing that’s so great about standup paddle-boarding: it’s fun! And of course, that matches our core principle and happier-making method: Take a break. Go outside. Have fun.
What’s Not So Great About Stand-Up Paddle Boarding?
It all depends on the weather. If your lake ices-over in the winter, you can’t go paddle boarding. (On that note: does anyone want to write a post about “what’s so great about ice fishing?”)
And if you live by open water, you might not enjoy going out on windy days.
Let’s Inspire Each Other
Do you know of any other reasons why SUP is so good for you? Anything in your experience that’s not so great? What’s the coolest, most exotic, highest-up-in-the-mountains, or furthest-out-to-sea you’ve paddle boarded? Tell us about your most memorable animal encounter or most exciting trip yet. Or ask a question.
Please leave a reply in the comment section below.