Is Paddle Boarding a good workout?
People with all body shapes, sizes and ages have begun to engage with paddle boarding as a fun, full-body workout and fitness activity. SUPing can be either low impact or high impact exercise, depending on your intensity. Plus, it incorporates a combination of balance, strength, core work and endurance.
With so many different ways to paddle board – from racing and surfing to yoga, touring, and recreational paddling – we wanted to get some practical answers about how many calories are burned with this workout. You may be surprised at what we found.
Measuring the calories burned
Of course, there are many ways to measure the amount of calories burned – but the formula we used was based on a person’s weight, age, heart rate and amount of time participating in the specific activity.
Now, as you might already know the calories a person will burn depends on how aggressive he or she might be participating in the exercise. Below you’ll find the most common categories of SUPing, plus the respective Calorie Burn Estimates for 1 hour of paddling.
For comparison purposes, estimates are based on an average of 16 people of different sizes (165 to 200lbs).
“Paddle boarding is the best crossing training you can do to improve your surfing.”
One category of paddle boarding involves SUP surfing. Surfers call it some of the best cross training you can do to improve your surfing. Of course, the bigger and rougher the waves, the harder you work – which translates to more calories burned. That’s just how the math works. For our study, we surfed the Coronado Shores on a typical chest to head high day with light winds.
After an hour of paddle surfing at an intensive pace – catching waves every couple of minutes – we gathered the data and discovered that you can burn 623 to 735 calories paddle surfing. That’s like a fully equipped breakfast burrito! We’ll take it.
“When paddle board racing at a high intensity your heart rate and cardiovascular are at full throttle.”
Racing might be the highest intensity version of paddle boarding. There is no slowing down and your heart rate and cardiovascular are at full throttle. Your calorie burn can vary greatly depending on stroke intensity, stroke form, wind speed and water conditions.
For our particular experiment we raced the Dana Ocean Challenge, a popular 5 mile SUP race, and found that you can burn on average 713 to 1,125 calories in just under an hour of high intensity racing. It’s a solid way to obliterate any vestiges from last night’s happy hour. Check out our racing paddle boards today.
SUP Touring entails paddling for a long distance at a moderate pace – without stopping in between. We did 1 hour of touring in Glorietta Bay with an average speed of 3 mph and burned an average 615 to 708 calories. It’s also very relaxing to get out on the water with friends and cruise the flatwater after a long day at the office and burn some calories along the way. Sure beats pounding on a tedious treadmill for 90 minutes.
“SUP Yoga offers an intense workout for the mind, body and spirit with an increased intensity which outperforms land yoga.”
Standup paddle boarding can be calming and meditative, but also exhilarating and an intense workout for the mind, body and spirit. Our friend Helen at San Diego Paddle Yoga practiced a vinyasa power SUP Yoga sequence which lasted about an hour. With an energetic yoga flow, you can burn anywhere between 416 to 540 calories in an hour. Go ahead, have that extra extra large green smoothie. We won’t tell.
“At a typical casual paddling pace, you’ll burn about twice the calories you’d burn on a moderate paced walk.”
The most common type of standup paddle boarding is recreational use, which is an easy paddle with calm water, light winds at a slow walking type pace. At a typical casual pace, you’ll burn about twice the calories you’d burn on a moderate paced walk (2.5 mph). You can burn 305 to 430 calories leisurely paddling in an hour. Sounds way more fun than an hour of monotonously swooping around on an elliptical machine.
Paddle boarding compared to other sports:
As you’ve clearly seen, SUPing can burn a lot of calories compared to other sports and will also build good muscle. The main muscle groups activated during a paddle are your mid-back muscles (latissimus Dorsi), shoulders (deltoids), arms (triceps and biceps) and abs.
Now use these numbers as a basic rule of thumb – and throw in some variables like choppy water, paddling into a headwind and riding waves on your paddle board – and you could potentially add hundreds more calories burned per hour to the above estimates.
- Surfing: 412 calories per hou
- Biking: 483 calories per hour
- Running: 650 calories per hour
- Swimming: 840 calories per hour
Stand up paddle board calorie burn infographic
Paddle boarding is an all-over body workout, which has more than just physical rewards. It can also restore your balance and calm your spirit. At the end of the day, getting out on the paddle board can be a walk in the park – or a high intensity, full body workout. Either way, a day on the water paddle boarding beats the gym anytime. So, what are you waiting for? Shop our selection of Paddle Boards and start dropping those calories!