10 Reasons Why Paddle Boarding Is a Great Workout

From a distance, paddle boarding might not seem like the most active sport to get into. However, once you’re on the board, and you’re out on the water, you’ll get a newfound appreciation for what is easily one of the best sports for those who want a really good full body workout and are looking to burn more calories. 

Today we’re going to take a look at all the different ways paddle boarding is one of the best ways to take care of your body. 

From both a physical standpoint and a mental standpoint, paddle boarding has got it all. Unlike most sports, you can look forward to a great, low impact exercise that will do your body lots of good. 

Read on to see the top ten ways paddle boarding is a really good workout everyone should introduce into their lifestyle.

1. Paddle Boarding Strengthens Your Leg Muscles

One of the biggest groups of muscles that will be impacted as you are paddling is your leg muscles. It’s so underrated how intense of workout your legs get when you are paddle boarding. 

The constant bending, contracting, and stability acquired as you bend down, paddle, and swim back to your board when you fall off, will take a toll on the muscles in your legs— in a good way of course. 

Different muscle groups in your leg contract with the different movements you make on your paddle board. For example, as you squat and bend your knees, you’ll be working out your glutes, glutes, calves and your hamstrings. 

These constant movements will help you get in great workouts without you even realizing it. 

2. Stand Up Paddle Boarding Helps You Build Your Endurance While Having Fun

Paddle boarding requires intense concentration. Both for your body and for your mind. Whether you realize it or not, this dedication to attention leads you to have improved endurance. 

Standing on the paddle board for long stretches of time, working out your legs, core, arms, back muscles, and maintaining your balance will all help to boost your endurance and stamina. 

With repeated exposure, you’ll find that your endurance will improve both on the paddle board and off. One of the best aspects of paddle boarding is that you can get an all body workout in, all while having so much fun! 

You don’t realize that you’re working out your whole body, strengthening your endurance, and challenging your physical capabilities. 

3. Stand Up Paddle Boarding is Great for Your Core 

Stand up paddling gives a good workout for your abdominal muscles, as it requires you to engage your entire core. As you paddle board, there’ll be different times in which different parts of your core are activated. 

Just being able to stand and balance properly requires you to keep your core engaged so that you don’t tip off of your paddle board. 

When it comes to the actual paddling, that movement of turning and pushing your paddle into the water helps you engage your obliques and deep ab muscles like your transverse abdominal muscles.  

Of course, you can always be intentional with building up your core strength as you paddle board by taking part in paddle board yoga or an SUP fitness course specifically designed to target those ab muscles. 

Whether it’s intentional or not, you’ll be amazed at how sore your core can feel after your first paddling fitness session!

So in short, the mere act of paddling is like a workout for your abdominals, and you get the added benefit of working out your chest and shoulder muscles too – all while burning calories and having fun!


4. Stand Up Paddle Boarding is a Whole Body Workout

I’ve shared how different groups of muscles in your body are impacted by stand up paddling. The fact of the matter is when you’re paddling, you’re getting a full body exercise every single time. 

The best part is that it’s truly a low impact exercise that burns more calories, elevates your heart rate, and gets you in shape all while requiring less strain on your body. 

Work on that balance and strengthen those core muscles. Can someone say hello summer six pack? 

Paddle back and forth and you’ll find yourself toning up your arms and shoulders. If you’re like many of us paddle boarders, falling off your board time and time again is a great way to get a quick cardio exercise in as you swim back to your board.

No matter which way you slice it, paddle boarding is an excellent way to get a full body workout without giving it a second thought. It’s not intense on your body, it is a great way to target several muscle groups at the same time. 

5. A Paddle Boarding Workout Helps Improve Your Balance

drift sup

For those who are vertically challenged, paddle boarding is a great way to improve your balance. Some paddle boards, typically hard shell boards, are designed much thinner than the more popular inflatable paddle boards. 

Because of this, you’ll find yourself practicing how to balance just as much as you might be practicing how to paddle. 

As you practice your balance, you’ll be more aware of your posture, the way your body moves, and the way your body reacts to unexpected movements that throw you off your feet.

As you improve your balance, you’ll find yourself having a better posture as you paddle board. This intentional focus on your posture will then help to amplify the muscle building that goes on as a paddle. 

You’ll be more aware of your body, how your muscle moves, and how you can move with them so that you  can challenge and work them out further

6. Paddle Boarding Helps Improve Your Proprioception (Your Spacial Awareness)


Proprioception, kinesthesia, or the way you move in space is a concept that’s a bit difficult to understand until you realize you may not have it. Your spatial awareness relates to how you move and how your body responds to objects that are coming towards you, or objects that you might encounter as you move around.

As you stand up paddle board, you need to be incredibly aware of how your body’s movement impacts your paddle board. The first couple of times you get on a paddle board, it can be hard to get a hold of and maintain your balance. 

Your spatial awareness, or lack of it, may cause you to feel unsteady or tip over. The more you practice getting back on the paddle board, the better your proprioception will get. 

The spatial awareness you build while you’re on the paddle board will also translate to the other aspects of your life. 

You’ll notice that you’ll have a greater sense of your spatial awareness and overall trust in how you move your body. 

7. SUP Boarding Strengthens Your Arms

Even when you’re paddling calm waters like on a lake or a still pond, paddling requires arm and shoulder strength as you pull yourself along through the water.  With every stroke, you can expect to activate your deltoids, your triceps and biceps, and the muscles in the middle of your back. 

Of course, all that turning and pushing will require core support so expect those ab muscles to get working too. 

As you strengthen your arms, shoulders,  and back muscles, you’ll find that over time you’ll develop a more toned upper body. Along with the great physique, the strength you build up will allow you to paddle faster and harder so that you can seek out even more adventure.

8. Doing Yoga on a Paddle Board Strengthens Physical and Mental Wellbeing 


Stand up paddle boarding can be an intense full-body workout, even if you’re someone who paddles regularly. If you’re looking to add a new dimension to your workouts, however, then SUP yoga is a surefire way to keep things interesting. You could burn more calories, and reap the benefits of two different physical activities simultaneously.

Yoga introduces your body to a variety of stretches, poses, and balancing techniques that are designed to help you connect with your inner self (not to mention help with your balance and strength)

If you’ve done paddle board yoga before, you know that these intentional poses are further enhanced when you’re out in the open air, listening to the sounds of nature around you, and enjoying the calming hum of the water lapping against your boredom.

SUP yoga focuses heavily on stretching out your muscles. For many, our muscles are where we hold a lot of tension that keeps us from feeling relaxed. As you stretch your body out on the paddle board, you’ll really feel that physical clarity crosses over to mental clarity. 

The best part is, as you practice your yoga poses on the paddle board, you’ll still be getting that full body exercise that targets those muscle groups including your ab muscles, your upper body, and your lower body. 

9. SUP Boarding Helps You Connect With Nature, And Yourself

Being out in nature is overall one of the best ways to get your body feeling refreshed again – making it a great workout for both body and mind. Not many sports allow you to enjoy the outdoors in the way paddle boarding does, be it with a SUP fitness class, a yoga workout, or a simple day of paddling. 

When you’re out on the lake or taking a leisurely SUP tour, you can take in the sights, smells, and sounds of nature. This mental break from your day to day activities will help you to stay centered so that you can get that natural serotonin flowing. Remember that rest and recovery are also an integral part of maintaining a healthy workout regime.  

inflatable paddle board vs solid featured

10. Stand up Paddle Boarding Burns a Ton of Calories

If you’re still not convinced why paddle boarding is a great workout, here’s a quick factoid: you can burn upto 550 calories per hour paddle boarding at even just a moderate pace! The end amount you burn could be more or less depending on your height and weight, but suffice to say – it’s much more fun to burn those calories out in nature, rather than training and sweating it out in a gym!

So not only is SUP boarding a great way to increase your endurance, perform strength exercises without necessarily ‘trying’, and increase muscle tone – it’s a legitimate way to lose weight

In Conclusion: Stand Up Paddling is a Great Way to Stay in Shape 

While stand up paddle boarding still remains to be one of the best kept secrets when it comes to the best exercises that burn calories, but don’t take a toll on your body, it’s about time more people reap the benefits. 

Even occasional outings on your stand up paddle board can help you get your body into shape. Join a class, go SUP touring, or go out with your family. Paddle boarding is one of the best ways to burn more calories, get your heart rate pumping, your muscles stretching, and your brain relaxing through a complete low impact exercise.