is Paddleboarding a Good Workout? 10 Physical Benefits

is Paddleboarding a Good Workout? 10 Physical Benefits


Is paddleboarding a good workout? Yes, paddle boarding is a fantastic workout because it's fun and easy for most people. It's also a really good way to exercise. In this sport, you either stand or kneel on a board and use a paddle to move in the water. This works your arms, legs, and tummy muscles. Paddleboarding has lots of good effects on your body, like:

  • Calorie Burning
  • Muscle Building
  • Upper Body Strengthening
  • Core Strengthening
  • Leg Strengthening
  • Cardiovascular Improvement
  • Balance Enhancement
  • Joint Stability Improvement
  • Flexibility Increase
  • Endurance Building

This makes paddle boarding a compelling alternative to traditional gym workouts, encouraging you to explore the world's waterways or head to the nearest body of water for a unique fitness experience.


1. Calorie Burning

Calorie Burning

The calorie burning in paddle boarding, particularly in forms like racing and surfing, demonstrates that paddleboarding is a good workout. Paddling at a relaxed pace on calm water can burn between 330 to 460 calories, which is twice as much as a regular walk around the neighborhood! Those engaged in vigorous SUP activities can burn over 600 calories per hour, making it an excellent exercise for weight management.

This makes paddle boarding an enjoyable and versatile water sport and an excellent exercise for those looking to manage or lose weight. The variety in paddle boarding styles underscores the paddle board exercise benefits for a range of fitness goals, from a moderate workout to a high-intensity exercise session.

2. Muscle Building

Paddle boarding offers a comprehensive muscle workout that engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously. Each stroke activates the muscles in your arms, shoulders, and back. The water's resistance significantly enhances the sport's muscle-building aspect. For instance, according to research, activities like paddle boarding can increase muscular activity by up to 40% compared to similar exercises on land due to the added resistance of water.

This fact highlights the stand up paddle board exercise benefits, and constant engagement leads to improved muscle tone and strength over time. Additionally, the varying water conditions can further amplify the muscle-building effect, as navigating rougher waters requires more strength and stability, engaging the muscles more intensely.

3. Upper Body Strengthening

Upper Body Strengthening

Paddle boarding places a significant focus on the upper body. The act of paddling against the resistance of water provides a consistent and effective resistance training experience. This activity primarily targets the arms, shoulders, and back muscles.

For instance, a study by the "Journal of Sports Science & Medicine" found that paddle boarding significantly engages the latissimus dorsi, deltoids, and biceps, key muscles in the upper body. Regular paddle boarding can lead to substantial improvements in upper body strength and endurance. This paddle board exercise benefits and translates to improved performance in everyday activities that require upper body strength, such as lifting or carrying objects.

4. Core Strengthening

Paddle boarding offers an excellent core-strengthening workout, achieved through several dynamic movements:

  • Continuous Core Engagement: While paddle boarding, your core muscles are constantly active. This continuous engagement occurs as you use your arms to propel forward, requiring your core to maintain balance and provide power. Each paddle stroke engages your abs, enhancing core strength as you navigate the water.
  • Balancing Act: The act of maintaining balance on an inflatable paddle board engages your entire core. This constant need for stability means your core muscles are always at work, like performing an ongoing balancing exercise.
  • Side-to-Side Paddling: Mimicking the motion of Russian twists, paddling from side to side specifically targets your abdominal muscles. This motion propels you through the water and offers a focused abdominal workout.
  • Variable Intensity: Paddle boarding on calm water with a slow pace provides a gentler core workout. Rougher conditions, like choppy water or strong currents, require more effort and increase the intensity of the workout. Ocean waves or strong currents demand maximum effort and put your core muscles to work.

5. Leg Strengthening

Leg Strengthening

Leg strengthening in paddle boarding further answers the question, is paddleboarding a good workout? While paddle boarding, your legs play a crucial role, though it might not be immediately apparent. As you stabilize yourself on the board, your leg muscles are continuously engaged, including those in the thighs, calves, and ankles. This not only helps in maintaining balance but also contributes significantly to leg strengthening.

Balancing and adjusting to the water's movement provides a unique form of resistance training, which is effective in toning and strengthening the leg muscles. For example, when navigating through choppy waters or making turns, the engagement of your leg muscles intensifies, enhancing muscle endurance and strength over time.

6. Cardiovascular Improvement

Paddle boarding provides a substantial cardiovascular workout. The constant movement of paddling elevates the heart rate, similar to moderate-intensity aerobic exercises. A study from the "American Council on Exercise" reveals that activities like paddle boarding can improve overall cardiovascular health by enhancing heart function and reducing the risk of heart-related diseases. The cardiovascular benefit varies with the intensity of paddling; leisurely paddling offers a moderate cardiovascular workout while racing or paddling in rough waters provides a more intense cardiovascular exercise.

7. Balance Enhancement

Balance Enhancement

One of the standout benefits of paddle boarding is improving balance and coordination. Maintaining stability on an unstable surface like water engages and strengthens the core muscles responsible for balance. This improvement is beneficial for paddle boarding and translates to better balance and coordination in daily activities, reducing the risk of falls, enhancing overall body control and valuable paddle board exercise benefits that transfer to everyday life.

8. Joint Stability Improvement

Paddle boarding's low-impact nature makes it an ideal exercise for joint health. It strengthens the muscles around critical joints like knees and ankles without the harsh impacts of running or high-impact aerobic exercises. This makes it a suitable workout for those with joint concerns or older adults looking to maintain joint health and stability.

9. Flexibility Increase

Flexibility Increase

The diverse range of movements involved in paddle boarding, such as reaching forward to paddle, twisting the torso, and adjusting balance, naturally enhances flexibility. This increase in flexibility, particularly in the shoulders, back, and hamstrings, is a result of the dynamic stretching involved in the sport. Regular paddle boarding can improve flexibility, which is crucial for overall mobility and reduces the risk of muscle strains and injuries.

10. Endurance Building

It is clear that paddle boarding plays a significant role in building endurance, thus providing an answer to the question, “Is paddle boarding a good workout?”. Due to its enjoyable nature, individuals often engage in paddle boarding for extended periods, inadvertently improving their endurance and stamina exemplifies the stand up paddle board exercise benefits. Prolonged physical activity improves endurance and benefits overall fitness. Frequent paddle boarding enhances stamina, leading to better performance in various activities.

Wrap Up

Wrap Up

Many often ask, “Is paddleboarding good exercise?” And the answer is yes. boarding is not just a recreational activity; it's a comprehensive exercise regime. It offers a unique combination of calorie burning, muscle building, cardiovascular health, balance, and flexibility improvements. To explore how paddle boarding can enhance your fitness and find the ideal equipment for this invigorating sport, be sure to visit the iROCKER website.


Let's answer some questions before we wrap up the topic, "Is paddleboarding a good workout?

Is a paddle board good for losing weight?

Yes, paddle boarding is effective for weight loss. The combination of calorie burning, muscle building, and cardiovascular workout makes it a great exercise for shedding pounds.

  • Caloric Burn: Paddle boarding can burn calories between 300-400 per hour with leisurely paddling and over 600 calories per hour for more intense activities like SUP racing or surfing. A moderate-intensity walk burns about 165-200 calories per hour. This higher caloric expenditure makes paddle boarding an effective exercise for weight loss.
  • Full-body Workout: Paddle boarding's engagement of multiple muscle groups, including the core, arms, legs, and back, increases muscle mass. Higher muscle mass improves metabolism, further aiding in weight loss.

Is paddle boarding better than the gym?

While it depends on individual fitness goals, paddle boarding offers a holistic workout that engages the entire body, which can be more enjoyable and varied than gym workouts.

  • Variety of Exercises: Paddle boarding combines strength, balance, and cardiovascular training. In contrast, gym workouts often require switching between different machines and equipment to achieve a similar range of exercise.
  • Engagement and Enjoyment: The appeal of being outdoors and on the water can increase the likelihood of sticking to a regular exercise routine, which is crucial for long-term fitness. A study published in the "International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health" found that outdoor exercise is associated with increased energy and satisfaction and decreased tension, confusion, anger, and depression compared to indoor exercise.
  • Low Impact: Paddle boarding is gentler on the joints than high-impact gym activities like running on a treadmill or weight lifting, making it suitable for a wider range of individuals, including those with joint concerns or older adults.

Is paddle boarding better than running?

Paddle boarding is a low-impact exercise compared to running and engages more muscle groups simultaneously. While both have benefits, paddle boarding offers a unique combination of balance, strength, and endurance training.

  • Muscle Engagement: Running primarily works the lower body, while paddle boarding is a full-body workout. SUP simultaneously engages the core, upper, and lower body, providing a more balanced workout.
  • Impact on Joints: Running, especially on hard surfaces, can be high-impact and may lead to joint pain or injuries. Paddle boarding is a low-impact exercise, reducing the risk of joint-related injuries.
  • Mental Health Benefits: The tranquil environment of paddle boarding can offer significant mental health benefits. According to a study in the "Journal of Environmental Psychology," activities in natural water environments (blue spaces) can reduce stress and increase feelings of well-being compared to urban environments.
  • Balance and Flexibility: Paddle boarding uniquely improves balance and flexibility, aspects less emphasized in running.

Happy paddling!



  1. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine. (n.d.). Retrieved November 17, 2023, from
  2. Green, D. J. (2016, August). ACE-Sponsored Research: Can Stand-up Paddleboarding Stand Up to Scrutiny? American Council on Exercise. Retrieved from

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