5 reasons why stand up paddle boarding is a great workout in 2023

is stand up paddle boarding a good workout

Last Updated on 2 March 2023 by Sarah Dunes


Paddle boarding while standing, or even kneeling, is an enjoyable activity that can keep you healthy. Like most water sports, it can do wonders for your cardio, especially if done on a regular basis. There are many benefits that come with the activity and you can turn it into an unforgettable bonding experience with friends or family. Plus, the fresh air and calming scenery can also help you unwind – which is great for your overall health. Get yourself a paddle board and you’ll discover a whole new sense of freedom on the water!

Here’s 5 reasons why stand up paddle boarding is a great workout:

  1. You burn a lot of calories
  2. It’s a great workout to improve core strength
  3. It’s a full-body workout
  4. It’s simple and easy to learn
  5. Improves stamina


Is it good for me, in a nutshell?

Yes, stand up paddle boarding is an excellent workout. It’s a good low-intensity Yes, stand up paddle boarding workout that targets cardio, core, upper body and leg strength. But if you prefer to do more strenuous exercises, you can incorporate other activities while you’re paddle boarding in the water. You can try surfing, racing, and even yoga if you really want to amp up your workout for more gains. Aside from the health benefits, it can also be good for you to go out and explore incredible paddle boarding venues near you. You can make it an adventure and bring some company. SUPs such as our EZ Board range are great value and allow you to get out enjoying the paddle boarding experience in no time.

If you need more reasons to try out paddle boarding, here are some benefits to keep in mind:


1. You burn a lot of calories

In comparison to walking, you can burn more with stand up paddle boarding. As published on shape.com, Sara Angle says, “The new study from ACE and a team at the University of California found that novice SUP’ers burned between 370-500 calories during a 30-minute session, while experienced paddlers moving more vigorously burned around 540-600 calories. At first glance, it may look like an upper body workout, but SUP actually primarily works the muscles of the back (erector spinae) and abdominals (rectus abdominis), the research discovered.” This simply means that leisure paddle boarding can already burn calories but you’ll need to try more advanced paddle board activities if you want to get ahead.

Mind you, they do say to proceed with caution and don’t go chasing life-threatening waves for the calorie burn but, as it is in every kind of workout – as long as you have the correct form and engage the right muscles – you can expect good results.


2. It’s a great workout to improve Core Strength

There are many exercises out there that can be great for targeting your core and paddle boarding is one of them. It takes a good amount of effort at your core to balance on a board on top of water and the rougher the water, the more strength you’ll need. This basically means that paddle boarding is good for your core and likewise, you need to boost your core strength if you want to paddle board, or even try SUP surfing, on more intense waves.

You can also take it up a notch by trying out SUP Yoga. If normal yoga can help improve balance, flexibility, and core strength; imagine doing that on a paddle board floating on water. Definitely, that’s going to be a difficult feat but if you are one of those people who’d do it for the challenge, then put your core to the test by giving it a try.

paddle board stability

3. It’s a full-body workout

You can have an aesthetically fit body but just because you feel like you’re in top shape, doesn’t mean SUP will be a breeze to you. SUP relies highly on core strength but it actually takes a lot of both upper and lower body strength. 

As published in theActiveTimes.com, ACE Certified personal trainer, ACA SUP Instructor Trainer and REI outdoor programs and outreach market manager Jose Gonzalez says, “When most people think SUP, they assume it’s all about the arms—it’s not. It works your core and legs through the movement of bringing the paddle to the board. Specifically, SUP engages the deltoids, rotator cuffs, traps, pectoralis major, latissimus dorsi, supraspinatus, and your abdominal muscles.”

 You’d think it doesn’t work your legs as much but you need to keep them engaged just as much as your core when you’re out in the water on your paddle board. This means that paddle boarding would be great if you want to build all-body strength in the most fun way possible.


4. It’s simple and easy to learn

One of the things that make some exercises daunting is the difficulty level in learning them. When it comes to workouts with complicated movements and positions, it can be difficult to get real gains after countless sessions. Some take a bit more effort to learn well enough to get the progress you’re aiming for – something that won’t be a problem with SUP.

SUP is like riding a bike. The basics take a bit of practice but it’s easy once you get a better feel of it. Since SUP is all about balance and stability, it’ll take less bending and twisting to get the right form for gains. Yes, there are variations that can be more difficult to practice but the basics are fairly simple and easy. Although SUP may not be for everyone, it can be done by practically anyone who’s up for it. 


5. Improves stamina

If you’re looking to train for the sake of improving your stamina and endurance, paddle boarding may be the best way for you to do that. The combination of cardio and strength training that SUP offers is a great combination to boost your stamina.

stamina paddle board

According to an article in Flashpack.com, “[SUP] It’s an exercise in strength and endurance that requires almost every element of the body to cooperate and pull its weight. When you paddle through the water, your quadriceps, shoulders, arms, and knees work together to propel you forward. Your leg muscles also up their game to help the core in keeping your balance.“

So if you’re looking to train yourself to extend your endurance to further heights, then SUP can give that to you. And the best part is you can have fun while you’re at it. 


Advanced paddle boarding workouts

As the SUP trend has gone up especially amongst athletes, they’ve decided to push it further and even developed new variations that are more advanced. Although these workouts would target the same areas for progress as usual SUP, these advanced paddle boarding workouts are simply more difficult to practice and are not recommended for beginners. 

These are more for intermediate to advanced paddle boarders who have already mastered the basics and will be less likely to get injured if there are any mishaps.


SUP Surfing is a twist on traditional surfing. Surfing is already exhilarating as is but if you want to try something different, you can try surfing on a paddle board. It’s actually pretty great especially for novices as there is more room to maneuver when the wave hits you. Of course, it’s no substitute to traditional surfing but it brings the same kind of thrill and serenity that everyone loves.



SUP racing has a cult-like adrenaline-powered following, attracting athletes and enthusiasts alike. Like a marathon, it’s a test of endurance and strength. There are multiple races around the world that can have tracks that involve a span up to 50 hours of paddling a more than 700-kilometer course. These types of races can take 3 days or more to complete but reaching that finish line is all worth it!


SUP Yoga

If yoga is your thing then take it to the next level with SUP yoga. If you thought yoga on solid ground is difficult then try doing it on water. Paddle yoga is basically yoga being done on a paddle board. It’s much more intense since it engages more muscles than usual yoga. You’re practically putting your core and balance to the test by doing various poses and motions on an unstable surface. If you want a challenge, this one’s for you. 

sup yoga


Paddle Workout

Since incorporating a paddle board in yoga really went and took it to the next level, why not try it out with other workout regimens? Paddle workouts are becoming very popular lately and they can be practiced by anyone. You can mix it up by doing exercises such as planks, squats, push ups, lunges, and more. Although try no to do anything that may cause accidents and get yourself hurt. 


Other reasons why you should take up paddle boarding

Aside from the gains you can get from SUP, there are other non-fitness related reasons why you should take up paddle boarding. Most adrenaline junkies would do SUP for the thrill of it but there are other benefits that may seem tedious but will actually be crucial in the long run.

Here are a few that you may want to keep in mind so you can make the most of your next SUP trip:


It allows you to spend time in nature, doing wonders for your mental health

Going outdoors to paddle board somewhere scenic makes it a relaxing experience. Most of the best paddle boarding spots have the best views as well. You can even take a breather and simply relax while enjoying nature. According to Mind.org.uk, “Spending time in nature has been found to help with mental health problems including anxiety and depression. For example, research into ecotherapy (a type of formal treatment which involves doing activities outside in nature) has shown it can help with mild to moderate depression. This might be due to combining regular physical activity and social contact with being outside in nature.”

It can do wonders for your mental health and overall well-being. You’re basically hitting two birds with one stone – getting your workout in and keeping yourself mentally healthy.

SUP encourages quick-thinking and perseverance

For the more competitive SUP enthusiasts out there, you can learn beyond the workout if you treat it like a sport. The nature of SUP can instill the most important skills and values, more specifically, quick-thinking and perseverance. Like surfing and other sports that involve immersing in nature, paddle boarding will teach you how to be resourceful and persevere through sudden changes in the environment. Be it unforeseen rough currents or sudden big waves, a seasoned paddle boarder will have the mindfulness and the drive to get through it. Definitely it is never advisable to get in those dangerous situations in the first place but, these are skills that can be useful in a race when the unexpected always happens, or even in life.


SUP builds character

Like every sport, SUP can help build character. It is a good sport for kids to get exposed to because it’s a simple sport with fairly easy-to-learn basics. Kids will learn persistence and grit especially during the beginning when getting the balance down may get challenging. But, they will also appreciate the fun once they are able to get on the board and paddle through the water. 

This uphill learning experience of learning how to balance and maneuver on a paddle board will be a great character building experience. Just don’t forget to keep yourself well-equipped so you can stay safe while having fun.


It’s a very relaxing feel-good bonding opportunity

Inflatable stand up paddle boards are great for your overall health and fitness, but also have a whole host of other benefits. Aside from the actual exercise, you can even make a trip out of it and take your friends with you on an excursion to paddleboard at a beautiful lakeside facility or on the beach. This element of community and excitement makes it a very feel-good workout simply because you get to share the fun with people you love being with.

sup nature