Is this the ultimate workout for summer?

Choosing water-based activities in warmer weather is a no brainer, but this one delivers a few extra reasons to make it your new way to keep cool in summer.

When was the last time you genuinely had fun exercising?

It matters, with research proving that when physical activity is enjoyable, we’re much more likely to do it – and keep doing it.

Research also shows that stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) is an activity people rate as “enjoyable” once they’ve tried it.

But the benefits of balancing on a board and paddling across the water don’t stop there.

SUP: A complete workout on the water (and great for your core)

Name any muscle you can think of and there’s a good chance SUP uses it, says James Bradshaw, managing director of inflatable paddle board company Red Paddle Co Australia.

“SUP is a whole-body workout, engaging all the major muscle groups as well as some of the important minor muscles, such as those in the fingers, wrists, feet and toes,” says James.

Plus, the balance needed to stand up on a board on the water engages those all-important core muscles.

“Strengthening the core is a key benefit of SUP because it’s our core muscles that help us do a whole range of everyday tasks such as bending, lifting and twisting, while also protecting the back,” James says.

Studies show SUP can also improve fitness, heart health and even result in weight loss.

“SUP can deliver everything from a casual and relaxing experience to a full cardio workout, and anything in between,” James says.

“So while 60 minutes of casual paddling can burn up to 420 calories, one hour of racing can burn in excess of 1100 calories.”

How SUP helps your mental wellness

In a 2016 study, people who enjoyed three hour-long SUP sessions a week experienced an 18 per cent improvement in their mental health and wellbeing after just six weeks.

Findings like that are no surprise to Mark Renouf, co-director of SUP-FIT, a stand-up paddle board school on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.

“Paddle boarding is a great opportunity to be mindful, if you want to,” says Mark.

“And one of the comments people often make when they come back in off the water is that it was a very relaxing experience.”

To up the ante of the sport’s psychological benefits, you can even do SUP yoga, which as the name suggests combines stand-up paddle boarding with yoga, an activity that on its own has been shown to improve mood.

stand up paddleboarding

Who is SUP good for?

Never tried SUP before? Never fear.

“One of the great things about SUP is that fitness wise, it suits just about everyone,” James says.

Mark agrees: “If you can get from a kneeling position to a standing one on the floor, without having to hang on to anything, then you’ll be able to try SUP,” he says.

How to start stand-up paddle boarding

But before you rush out to buy a board, intent on paddling solo across the first bit of water you spot, get a lesson or two.

“Without the right technique, you’ll not only move more slowly through the water, you risk using the wrong muscles and falling off the board more,” says Mark.

“There are also some safety rules and considerations that are really important to learn.”

And different boards suit different people, says James.

“Standing on one that’s too short or too narrow for your size will make the experience much harder than necessary, which means it’s unlikely to be something you’ll want to keep doing,” he says.

“An accredited SUP school or specialised SUP store will be able to give the best advice to match you to the right board.”

Written by Karen Fittall