The Positive Long-Term Effects of Stand up Paddle Boarding: Exploring the Physical and Mental Health Benefits

There are so many mental and physical health benefits to stand up paddle boarding. We explore many of them here.


stand up paddle board

In recent years, stand up paddle boarding has become a popular water sport, providing a fun and engaging way to stay active. With increasing interest in the activity, researchers have begun to study the long-term effects of paddling paddle boards on our physical and mental health. This article delves into the research, discussing the various benefits that long-term stand up paddle board enthusiasts can experience, including improved fitness, mental well-being, and overall life satisfaction.

 Physical Health Advantages of Paddle Boarding

sup paddles and inflatable paddle boards

Over time, engaging in paddling a paddle board offers numerous physical health benefits, such as enhanced cardiovascular fitness, increased muscle strength, and improved balance and stability.

Cardiovascular Fitness Gains

sup yoga

Regular paddle boarding outings can lead to better cardiovascular fitness. Research conducted by Schram and colleagues showed that individuals who practiced paddling a SUP board for six months experienced a significant improvement in their VO2 max, an indicator of aerobic fitness, compared to their initial levels.

Building Muscular Strength

inflatable paddle board

Stand up paddle boarding is a full-body workout that targets various muscle groups like the core, back, shoulders, and legs. The repetitive paddle stroke motion provides consistent resistance training, leading to increased strength and endurance. A study by Furness et al. found that paddle board participants demonstrated significant improvements in upper body strength and endurance compared to a control group.

Enhanced Balance and Stability

sup board paddles

Paddle boarding demands the continuous engagement of core muscles to maintain balance and stability on the board. As a result, those who practice paddle boarding regularly can experience improved balance, coordination, and overall proprioception. Schram et al.'s study found that long-term paddle boarding participants had better balance and stability compared to their initial measurements, suggesting that paddle boarding can benefit individuals of all ages.

Mental Health Perks Paddling a Paddle Board

paddle blade and paddle shaft of paddle board paddles

In addition to physical health benefits, long-term participation in paddle boarding has been linked to several mental health advantages, including stress reduction, mood improvement, and increased self-esteem.

Alleviating Stress on Paddle Boards

canoe paddle boards are sup boards

Physical activities, particularly those in natural settings like flat water, can help reduce stress and promote relaxation. paddle boarding allows individuals to escape daily stressors and immerse themselves in a soothing and rejuvenating environment. Schram et al.'s study reported that long-term paddle boarding participants experienced lower stress levels and a greater sense of relaxation compared to their baseline measurements.

Boosting Mood

stand up paddle boards and touring boards

Physical activity is known to improve mood by releasing endorphins and other mood-enhancing chemicals in the brain. Paddling a SUP board, with its combination of aerobic exercise and exposure to nature, can offer a powerful mood boost. Furness et al.'s study reported that long-term paddle boarding participants experienced significant mood improvements compared to a control group, suggesting that paddle boarding can be an effective tool for promoting mental well-being.

Increasing Self-Esteem

sup surfing or paddle surfing

Frequent participation in paddle boarding can lead to heightened self-esteem and self-confidence, as individuals develop new skills, overcome challenges, and achieve personal goals. The combination of physical activity, exposure to nature, and social interaction associated with paddle boarding can contribute to a greater sense of self-worth and accomplishment. Schram et al.'s study found that long-term paddle boarding participants experienced improved self-esteem compared to their baseline measurements.

Enhanced Quality of Life

stand up paddle board with sup paddle

Long-term engagement in paddling a paddle board has been linked to an improved quality of life, as the physical and mental health benefits can contribute to greater overall well-being and life satisfaction.

Better Physical Function and Daily Living

stand up paddleboard

Improvements in cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength, and balance can positively impact an individual's ability to perform daily activities and maintain independence. By enhancing physical function, paddle boarding can contribute to a higher quality of life and enable individuals to participate more fully in their daily routines and social activities. Furness et al.'s study reported that long-term paddle boarding participants experienced improvements in their physical functioning and ability to perform daily tasks.

Building Social Connections

paddle boarding sup is an inflatable sup

Stand up paddle boarding is often a social activity, with individuals engaging in group outings, lessons, or races. The social aspect of time on paddle boards can foster a sense of community and belonging, which has been shown to contribute to improved mental health and overall well-being. Long-term participation in paddle boarding can help individuals forge new friendships and strengthen existing relationships, leading to a greater sense of social support and connectedness. Schram et al.'s study found that long-term paddle boarding participants reported increased social interactions and satisfaction with their social lives compared to their baseline measurements.

Connecting with Nature

stand up paddleboarding with personal flotation device

Paddle boarding is an outdoor activity that encourages immersion in natural environments. Research has shown that exposure to nature can have positive effects on mental health and well-being, including reduced stress, improved mood, and enhanced cognitive function. By providing opportunities to connect with nature, paddling can contribute to a greater overall quality of life. Furness et al.'s study reported that long-term paddle boarding participants experienced increased appreciation and enjoyment of the natural environment compared to a control group.

Potential Risks and Considerations

paddle boarding harder to catch waves

While the long-term effects of paddle boarding are primarily positive, it is essential to recognize potential risks and considerations associated with the sport. Some individuals may be more susceptible to overuse injuries, particularly in the shoulders, due to the repetitive paddling motion. Proper technique, conditioning, and regular rest can help mitigate these risks. Additionally, individuals with pre-existing medical conditions or limited physical fitness should consult with a healthcare professional before beginning a paddle boarding program to ensure that it is safe and appropriate for their specific needs.


paddling paddle boards long distances

Stand up paddle boarding offers numerous long-term benefits for both physical and mental health. Regular participation in this sport can lead to improved cardiovascular fitness, increased muscular strength, and enhanced balance and stability. In addition, paddling can promote stress reduction, improved mood, and greater self-esteem, contributing to overall higher life satisfaction. While there are some potential risks and considerations to be aware of, most individuals can enjoy the many benefits of paddle boarding by practicing proper technique and following appropriate safety guidelines. As the popularity of stand up paddle boarding continues to grow, so too will the body of research supporting its positive impact on long-term health and well-being.