Losing weight can be done by increasing your daily movement, and reducing your calorie intake.
Paddleboarding gets you moving and burning without feeling too much like you’re participating in an exercise regime. It’s immensely pleasurable. You’re outside the walls of a gym, getting vitamin D and meeting like-minded people on the water AND you’re burning calories.
So is paddleboarding a good way to lose weight? Whilst not the most efficient way to lose weight, paddleboarding is a good and fun way to contribute to weight loss, and increase overall strength at the same time.
If you’re of average build, then paddleboarding for 1 hour will burn 300 calories. That’s the equivalent of running for approximately 30 minutes.
If you are paddleboarding in waves or racing, then that figure increase to up to 1,000 calories per hour.
Burning 1,000 calories is the same as running for a 1 hour and 40 minutes!
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Can paddleboarding assist in weight loss?
Paddleboarding has proven to be very popular in recent years. The watersports world has seen lots of new faces starting their journey of becoming a SUPer.
But, how good is it really for you? There are endless benefits to getting outdoors and moving your body, and paddleboarding is a great way to get some exercise.
So, should a SUP session replace your next workout? And, will paddleboarding help weight loss?
Here we will deep dive into all the benefits paddleboarding has on your body and whether it should be used as a tool for weight loss.
Calories burned paddleboarding
Unlike going for a run or other forms of high-intensity exercise, paddleboarding can be a form of high-intensity exercise, yet still, be categorised as low impact.
Meaning you can get your heart rate up efficiently without adding excess load on the body.
The number of calories burned when paddleboarding is very much determined by how intense your SUP session is, how experienced you are on a SUP, how much you weigh, gender and other variable factors.
More info on paddleboarding and estimated calories over at www.sup.co.uk.
One hour of continuous flat water paddleboarding, where your heart rate stays relatively low (below zone 4), will tally up to burning approximately 300 calories +.
Our test was done monitoring a SUPer, with an average paddle stroke rate of 3m, and an average speed over ground of 3kph.
When our riders heart rate dropped, ie, when the paddle stroke rate lowered, and the speed decreased, the calorie burn was considerably less. (Strokes of 3kph or more equated to a heart rate in zone 4+)
Plus add in a headwind, and suddenly you’ve got a much bigger task on your hands—higher physical demand= higher calorie output.
Whereas, one hour of high-intensity paddleboarding, on a wave board, in waves can burn from 500-1,000 calories. This is down to the increased demands on the body of SUP surfing. SUP surfing requires the rider to be more dynamic, more explosive and much more agile than flat water touring.
Our test was done in moderate waves, for 60 minutes, with our rider having an average heart rate of 126bpm over the entire session, hitting a maximum of 170bpm.
SUP surfing sessions will induce heart rate spikes. This is because at some points the rider is waiting out back for the wave and not physically exerting themselves that much due to limited movement. This is compared to paddling for, catching and riding the wave which is very explosive, high paced and requires lots of elements of athleticism, which will jack the heart rate up and burn more calories.
The good news? The more waves you get, the more calories you’ll burn.
If you’re racing, you’re pushing for the best score, so you’re going to be hitting your maximum effort and heart rate.
Maximum effort on a SUP requires quick paddle strokes, a high power output when forcing water behind you, a dynamic lower limb movement pattern to accommodate the squat stance, a stabilised midline for balance, and an excellent baseline cardiovascular fitness level.
Cardiovascular fitness plays a big role in sup racing. As you deplete your muscles to their maximum by sprinting, you’re going to be working harder to keep your output the same, the blood will be pumping faster and your lungs will be burning. Racers need a high level of cardio fitness when SUP racing to maintain their endurance over the entire race.
Not to mention the adrenaline, this will contribute wildly to the calorie burn by an increase of up to 20%.
Read more about stress and calorie burn here.
When monitored, our SUP racer completed a 21.50kph race at a pacey speed of 6.7kph, for 3 hours and 15 minutes. Their average heart rate was 150bpm, occasionally hitting a maximum of 164bpm, and they burnt 1,984 calories according to Strava data.
Try tracking your next SUP on Strava. https://www.strava.com.
Let’s take the adrenaline down for a second and talk SUP yoga.
We’re switching to zen vibes, slow controlled movements, Drishti’s for days, and sunset soul sessions.
Naturally, in yoga, you move your body at a slower pace to ensure correct body position and keep the heart rate low to maintain the alpha brain waves of your meditative state.
The calorie burn is less, but only because the heart rate is much lower. Don’t let this put you off.
Your fast twitch muscle fibres will be working double time to balance on the board whilst holding you in your downward dog. Sup yoga promotes flexibility, muscular skeletal control, and increased strength.
Strengthening your body on the water, with overexerting yourself. It’s a win, win.
It’s important to end on a note that estimating calories is a minefield. Different wearable tech watches and apps can equate to different daily amounts.
Try not to get caught up on the calories burnt and focus on the benefit you’re having on your body.
All calorie estimations are approximate and may not reflect the individual. All calorie calculations were taken from a chest strap monitor, it’s essential to know that any overhead movement is less likely to be picked up on a wrist monitor.
Have a look at watersports watches here.
Increased strength whilst paddleboarding
Upper body strength
Every time you dip your paddle in the water and begin a stroke you are training a plethora of muscles in the upper body:
Paddleboarding is a high-repetition functional workout for the upper body. Not only will your arms begin to tone up over time, but you will become fit for paddleboarding the more you do it.
Core body strength
Use your core on every stroke.
Beginners tend to overwork their arms in the stroke.
Use the dip and drive of the legs, combined with a big abdominal squeeze to achieve the perfect paddle.
Your core muscles are working the second you kneel or stand on the board.
The transverse abdominal muscles engage when the body is balancing on a SUP board and are doing hundreds of mini, contract and relax repetitions throughout your session.
The more you activate the core, the stronger those abs are going to get.
There is lots of evidence out there that says that having solid midline stability aids weight loss, builds muscle tone and contributes to an overall healthy and pain-free body.
When paddleboarding your quads work in conjunction with your hamstrings, and the rest of the posterior chain to bend you into the SUP squat position and pull you out of it.
Not only that but the ankles and feet are working overtime to grip you to the deck of the board. These fast twitch muscles in the lower limbs are getting a good strengthening session when you are paddleboarding.
Paddleboarding is incredible for balance, sports like SUP, winging, wakeboarding, surfing, and windsurfing require a great deal of stability. Even standing on the board is challenging your motor skills and balance receptors. Your brain uses information from 3 different balance systems when standing on the paddle board: vision, somatosensory, and vestibular.
Learning board skills is good for your brain as well as your body!
Also, you can’t think of anything else when you’re trying to balance so paddleboarding can be a very mindful sport.
Getting your heart rate into maximum zones, and flooding the body with feel-good endorphins is crucial to your well-being. Paddleboarding will ensure you get your heart rate up and will in turn work to increase your cardiovascular capacity.
Benefits of cardiovascular fitness:
- Increased lung function
- Increased aerobic capacity
- Blood pressure reduction
- Decreased fat stores
The harder you work on your paddle board adventure the more you will increase your overall fitness.
So, is paddleboarding a good way to lose weight?
The answer is yes!
Paddleboarding is a good way to start your weight loss journey or manage your weight.
Enjoy the ride and watch how more time on the water will change more aspects of your life than just your weight…
About the author
Indie is the keenest watersports and fitness coach you'll ever meet. Whether it's windsurfing, paddleboarding or surfing, if there is any kind of wind or swell you'll find Indie charging on the water. She runs her own fitness and watersports instructor business called trainwithindie.com.