Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) the benefits

Yep that’s me in the picture, an amazing day that was!!  The reason I put up this post is because I’ve  been talking about core stability and recent posts on the nakedphysio FB page have focused on prolonged sitting and how standing and movement is better for you I thought I would give you a quick low down on the benefits of SUP….

Stand Up Paddleboarding or SUP has gained a lot of interest in recent years, it was established in 2005 from Hawaii and really took off in California in 2006/7. There are reports of similar activities dating as far back as 1912! Combining surfing and paddling, SUP has a lot of anecdotal claims around it i.e. good for balance, fitness, endurance, back pain and trunk strength or for those of you that are more familiar uh er and don’t all jump down my throat….. core stability, phew that took some effort!

What has also recently come to the forefront of the media is the effects of prolonged sitting and its increased risk to health(reference, reference, reference) such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes.  SUP has been growing in popularity too because of its health benefits so why not put those two together, sitting = bad, standing and paddling = good.(reference), lets read on to find out more!

Now fortunately for me I can preach to the masses I’ve tried paddle boarding, it was great fun particularly that I didn’t fall off……much to the disappointment of a dear friend 🙂

So I have scoured the web and looked up the evidence behind SUP for the proposed health benefits and the increased risk factors that prolonged sitting has to health… your welcome. There is very little for SUP but a lot for prolonged sitting.  I’ve seen some pretty crazy stuff too, doing yoga on a paddle board? It has to be good for you right?!!


SUP is a hybrid of surfing and paddling meaning you surf it up on some wicked waves or you can distance paddle.  Stand up boards are generally wider and longer making them more buoyant so you can stand up. They also come as blow up for easy transport. You then use a long paddle to propel yourself in the desired direction. The great thing about paddle boarding is that you are exposed to postural perturbations from the unsteadiness of the board, the conditions of the water and weather and the actions of paddling, therefore your postural sway/balance is being constantly challenged.  In addition the length of time that individuals tend to spend on their paddle boards exposes their muscles and cardiovascular system to long term activity inferring that it is great for endurance. Hence the claims towards the health benefits. Interestingly SUP (positively) and prolonged sitting (negatively) have been linked to Body Mass Index (BMI) and obesity (reference).

Obesity is a global epidemic, prolonged sitting raises the risk factors for obesity. However standing has been shown to better than sitting, therefore SUP must be good right! It could be proposed that due to the constant perturbations the body is exposed to during paddle boarding and the cardiovascular benefits there is some speculation that it could support a weight loss program.  To my knowledge there is minimal evidence to support this compelling theory (reference).

bad-desk-posture Prolonged sitting has opened up a whole raft of health risks including, circulation issues, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes and musculoskeletal disorders.  It has also shown to reduce our telomere length (these are the protective devices at the end of our chromosomes contained in the nucleus of our cells) Every time a cell divides the telomere shortens and eventually the cell dies.  Sitting for long periods pretty much speeds up the process and speeds up our risk of mortality (reference).

What about core stability?? This will be the only other time I will utter the dreaded words core stability. Core stability training won’t do anything to decrease the health risks associated with prolonged sitting but paddle boarding (and other exercise) will. Remember my core stability blog, to much stability is also a bad thing.  You don’t want to be stiff on a paddle board that’s what the paddle board is for!  Loose and relaxed is the key so you can feel the motion of the ocean!! Challenging your balance constantly will affect your whole body not just your so called core. The more you practice the more you’ll understand what you need to do with your body to reap the benefits identified above.

So a great way to challenge your body and get fit for the summer is to get out on a Paddle board, it’s great for your nervous system, great for your muscular system and also for your cardiovascular system, plus it’s outdoors and if you’re really lucky you might get to spot the odd bit of marine wildlife! Mind,body and soul combined!

Thanks for having a read, we always welcome your comments!







2 responses to “Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) the benefits”

  1. sappsphysio Avatar

    Hi, so I discovered your blog today, and have been glued to my tablet all afternoon reading…. a really good read! I tried “supping” for the first time last summer and although I was rubbish at it, its great fun! Let’s see how much it grows in the UK. Thanks for all the good research and explanations, I think more patients should be reading these explanations of pain.



    1. the naked physio Avatar

      Thanks Sophie

      Really kind words and pleased to hear that you hopefully you got something from it.
      SUP is massive over here (NZ) in fact I’m heading out today.
      It’s awesome for a good all round workout. Waters kinda cold in the UK but I’m sure there will be some brave souls who attempt it!
      Please do spread the word on my blog page. There will be more going up this year including a quirky 31days project.

      Thanks again



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