The Benefits of Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP)
Hi folks, I’m John Cox and I run my own Sports Therapy practice in Cumbria. I have an interest in all things exercise, outdoors, rehabilitation and fun! With a love of adrenaline-filled sports and you can often find me mountain biking in the Lake District mountains, or kayaking the waterfalls of the Scottish Highlands!
I play canoe polo which is a fast and furious team paddle sport (it requires a faceguard!!) and I was introduced to paddleboarding by a friend who suggested I might like it as I would be able to transfer my paddling skills easily; they weren’t wrong! Following a recent holiday to the south coast where I borrowed a board from a friend, I fell in love with paddleboarding and set about doing some research about getting one. As a bit of a nerd too, I didn’t just want to get the first or cheapest one I found, I wanted the best! I discovered Bluefin SUP through Instagram and was instantly taken with their brand and boards given they are one step ahead of every other manufacturer I’ve come across! I’d say I’m a convert to paddleboarding so thought I’d write this blog to tell you about the benefits of Stand Up Paddleboarding.
We are lucky enough to live near Ullswater in the Lake District National Park, so one Sunday morning after opening my box from Bluefin, we ventured down to the lake as a family. I love that the whole board and paddle packs into a really handy and comfortable backpack. It meant getting everything I needed to the lake super easy! My daughter Harriet ‘helped’ me to inflate the board, which didn’t take long at all. Then it was time to launch onto the glassy flat water and set off on my maiden adventure. The post below highlights the benefits of Stand Up Paddleboarding.
Off to the gym?
I’m a big believer in making the outdoors my gym and that even though fitness is a massive industry, you don’t need a personal trainer, an expensive gym membership or fancy trainers to get fit. I believe that all you need is a drive from within to raise your heart rate, burn some calories and most of all have fun! Five common components of fitness are strength, power, flexibility, balance and coordination. From my experience, paddle boarding gives you all of this. It is a new skill that I found easy to pick up and very satisfying (believe me I don’t find everything easy!).
Paddleboarding can be done anywhere there is water; I am up in the lakes, but my sister-in-law is in central London and has been out on the Thames many times. I find physical activity can have such positive effects upon both my physical and psychological health.
We all know that exercise is good for us, but it can definitely be hard work or a chore… That said; I believe the importance of actually being active has huge benefits for both mind and body. Physical activity increases cardiovascular fitness by strengthening the heart, improving its ability to pump blood around the body efficiently whilst increasing oxygen levels in the blood enabling us to burn calories. Physical activity has also been associated with improved mental health and well-being minimising the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and depression.
There are strong links between increased physical activity and a reduction in mental health issues. I know that the headspace I get from being out on the paddleboard allows me to think, plan, and ultimately relax and switch off. Something that a busy business and full-on family life don’t often afford. Physical activity significantly improves overall health. Also, it lowers the risk of heart disease, stroke and lowers the incidence of high blood pressure. I believe that now is the time to make sure you’re in good nick for the future; it’s never too late!
One of the main benefits of Stand Up Paddleboarding is the increase in core strength. Yoga, Pilates, crunches, primal movements… All have a core strength component, but none of them offers everything that paddleboarding does in one fell swoop. I find that paddleboarding gives me functional core strength, ideal for whole-body performance. A strong core provides me with a solid foundation for multidirectional movement. A strong core doesn’t have to mean a stiff body; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. A core that is functionally strong, combined with flexibility means that whatever activity is thrown at it, it can perform safely and effectively. Since starting paddle boarding I have found that my performances at other sports have improved.
As somebody who likes to run, I find that paddleboarding can be similar in intensity but without the added strain upon my body from the impact. I always say “motion is lotion”. Meaning that if you move your body, your joints will lubricate and become more supple, less stiff, and more often than not, less painful. The movement also challenges the strength and flexibility of the body’s muscles, along with challenging the body’s proprioception (described next). From a health perspective, movement, load, balance and control are key aspects of any successful exercise programme.
Benefits of Stand Up Paddleboarding: Balance
Proprioception is your awareness of where your body parts are in space and its ability to react to changes in external stimulus (to me and you, this means being able to react when things get wobbly!) When I’m mountain biking, it’s my ability to balance on my bike, and hopefully not fall off! I’ll leave the technical-scientific bit to one side for now, but the important thing to recognise is that balance is essential and one of the benefits of stand up paddleboarding is an increase in balance. I believe that the best way to improve your balance is to challenge it! Quality balance is immediately transferable into almost every other environment; win-win.
We’ll have fun fun fun…
Exercise produces endorphins, our body’s natural feel-good drug. Endorphins give the sensation of fun, but also pain relief, enjoyment, improved mood and often, reduced stress. If I do something that makes me smile, I feel better almost instantly. Although by no means an expert, my experience of paddleboarding has been amazing. Being out on the flat waters of Ullswater on a calm, crisp autumn day, was like nothing I’d ever experienced before. So much beauty, and a headspace to allow me to take it in.
Another benefit of Stand Up Paddleboarding is that it is low impact. It gives people who may find other sports difficult and painful the opportunity to continue exercising. For example, a kayaker friend of mine is now unable to tolerate the flexed position in her kayak due to pain. But with SUP, is able to transfer her paddling skills onto a SUP and still gets her out on the water. Being able to exercise without pain releases these endorphins and is emphasised when what they are doing is fun!
During the planning and production of this blog post, I have used the Bluefin Cruise 10’8 board. It has been a true pleasure to use; is so versatile and paddles better than any I have used before. With a range that includes 12ft and 15ft boards, there is an opportunity for everyone to get out and paddle!
I hope this blog will inspire you to get out there on a SUP and reap the rewards.
Thanks for reading.