SUP Fitness – How many calories does paddle boarding burn?

Isle surf and sup paddle boarding calories burning fitness chart

Is Paddle Boarding a good workout?

People with all body shapes, sizes and ages are engaging in paddle boarding as a fun fitness activity for a full body workout. SUPing can be a low impact or high impact exercise depending on your intensity using a combination of balance, strength, core and endurance. With so many ways to paddle board from racing, surfing, yoga, touring, and recreational we wanted to get some answers into how many calories are burned and you may be surprised at what we found.

“Balance, strength, core and endurance are all exercised when paddle boarding.” 

the isle team ready to test their paddle boarding calorie burning levels riding some phantom touring boards

Calories Burned Calculator

There are many ways to measure the amount of calories burned but the formula we used was based off the subjects weight, age, heart rate and amount of time participating in the specific activity. Of course the measure of calories a person will burn depend on how aggressive you are in the exercise plus men typically burn more calories than women. Below are the most common categories and the respective Calorie Burn Estimates for our subject doing 1 hour of a specific type of paddling.

isle team rider marc paddle boarding using a versa series board to test his fitness level

*Estimates are based on an average of three people of different sizes (165-200lbs) & 1 hour of paddling

Calories Burned SUP Surfing

team rider marc pushing himself to the limit stand up paddle board surfing

One category of paddle boarding is 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. 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 623-735 Calories paddle surfing in an hour and get an intense full body workout. Paddle surf in consistent waves daily and you can cancel your Gym membership.

“Paddle boarding is the best crossing training you can do to improve your surfing.”

isle team rider Doug paddling into a big wave to burn those extra calories

Calories Burned SUP Racing

Racing might be the highest intensity category of paddle boarding where 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 which was a 5 mile sup race and found that you can burn on average 713-1,125 calories in just under an hour of high intensity racing.

To put in perspective the top finisher in our 12’6 class did the 5 miles in around 48 minutes and we finished up at around 55 minutes. Needless to say he was at the highest intensity the entire race and his calorie burn was more significant. Being an open ocean race with side breeze and cross swell you get an added workout just trying to stabilize the board than you would find on a calm flat water course in a bay or lake clearly adding to the calorie burn.

“When Paddle Board Racing at a high intensity your heart rate and cardiovascular are at full throttle.”

isle team riders after an intense paddle boarding race posing with the touring race boards

Calories Burned SUP Touring

isle team riders doing a long distance paddle to test their fitness endurance

SUP Touring entails paddling fooor a long distance at a moderate pace without stopping in-between. We did an hour of touring in Glorietta Bay with an average speed of 3 mph and burned an average 615-708 calories. Its 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.

isle team rider Austin burning those calories while paddling the phantom touring board

Calories Burned SUP 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 416-540 calories in an hour.

balancing a yoga pose on an isle women inflatable paddle board

“SUP Yoga offers an intense workout for the mind, body and spirit with an increased intensity which outperforms land yoga.”

Calories Burned Recreational Paddling

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). There are a ton of spots in San Diego to leisurely paddle but we went to Glorietta Bay for a nice sweep. You can burn 305-430 calories leisurely paddling in an hour.

stand up paddle boarding for excersise on lake havasu

“At a typical casual paddling pace, you’ll burn about twice the calories you’d burn on a moderate paced walk.”

*Now use these numbers as a base 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 add 100’s more Calories burned per hour to the above estimates.

Paddle Boarding Compared To Other Sports:

•Surfing: 412 calories per hour
• Biking: 483 calories per hour
• Running: 650 calories per hour
• Swimming: 840 calories per hour

Stand Up Paddle Board Calorie Burn Infographic

isle stand up paddle board calorie burning fitness chart

As you’ve seen SUPing can burn a lot of calories compared to other sports and will also build good muscle. The main muscle groups that are being activated during a paddle are your mid back muscles (latissimus Dorsi), Shoulders (deltoids), Arms (triceps & biceps) and abs. Paddle Boarding is an all-body workout which has more than just the physical rewards, it can also restore your balance and calms 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!


SUP Fitness – How many calories does paddle boarding burn?

Posted in Fitness
Marc Miller - Co-Founder of Isle Surf & SUP. I started Isle back in 2004 to share my love of paddling and surfing in the ocean with others one board at a time. I love to surf, paddle , travel and write about it. When im not in the office I can be found on foreign shores searching for waves and fun.