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7 Physical & Mental Benefits of Whitewater SUPing

Photo: Shutterstock Photo: Shutterstock

Stand up paddle boarding (SUP) is an amazing sport for so many reasons. It gets you outside, gives you a workout, and can even be good for your mental health. Take your board out to some white-water rapids or big waves and you have a really exciting challenge on your hands. In these circumstances, you’ll get to experience the true excitement and beneficial qualities of whitewater paddle boarding.

Whole-body Workout

Even on the calmest waters, whitewater paddle boarding can be an amazing full-body workout. You use your arms for paddling, your core for balance, and your legs for stabilization. Once you add in fast-flowing and unexpected twists and turns, your entire body is going to be challenged and your muscles are really going to work hard. There are not that many other sports or exercises that work almost all your muscle groups at once. This makes SUPing an excellent choice for anyone keen to get a complete workout.

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Photos courtesy: Shutterstock

Good for Your Cardio

In addition to being good for strength training, whitewater SUP is an excellent cardiovascular sport. When you’re racing down rapids and working with white water, your heart rate is definitely going to start climbing. You can do sprints in shorts sections or go for endurance with a long stretch. In terms of a cardio workout, standup paddle boarding is just as good as running or cycling. It combines all the good elements in one, and as an added plus, it doesn’t put a huge amount of pressure or impact on your joints either.

Improved Concentration

The setting of white-water SUP requires maximum concentration. Your whole body is working as one to keep you standing firm as the water rushes along and obstacles come up out of almost nowhere. You need to be focused on the water around you and what’s coming up ahead so that you can adjust your course and keep yourself on your board. Even in the gentler rapids, it’s certainly challenging, and if you want to stay upright you need to maintain your focus at all times. Improved concentration offers numerous advantages and it’s something that will benefit you in all areas of your life.

whitewater sup health benefit 4 pc paul clarkPhoto: Paul Clark

De-stress in Nature

Being surrounded by forest and mountains or beach and ocean is one of the best feelings in the world. You can immediately feel the mental and emotional impact of being close to nature. Flowing water is particularly good for the mind and will allow you to easily let go of what is stressing you out, getting you down or upsetting your mood.

The action of standup paddle boarding, especially in more challenging white water rapids, will also allow you to de-stress as you have to put all of your focus onto what you are doing and don’t have time to think about anything else. Once you’ve completed your course, you’ll feel like you’re a million miles away from whatever it was that was causing mental anguish. The endorphin rush you’ll get is a real mood booster, so it’s almost impossible to feel blue after you’ve been paddle boarding.

whitewater sup health benefit Jennifer Gulizia gorge us photography whitewater sup health benefit photo jennife gulizia gorge us photography

Whitewater SUP legend Dan Gavere. | Photos: Gorge US Photography

Boost in Your Balance

Stand up paddle boards are designed to help you stay upright. However, you still have to put the work in to make sure you stay on your feet. This is especially true if you’re paddling over rapids and other challenging obstacles that you find in white-water.

You’ll learn how to roll with an ever-changing surface that throws you into various angles unexpectedly. The benefit of this in everyday life is incredible. You’ll be far better prepared to catch yourself if you trip or are pushed over. This will go a long way towards preventing injuries and make you far more stable if you find yourself in a dangerous situation. For athletes or sportspeople improved balance also goes a long way to promoting agility, increasing reaction times, and can even boost overall performance.

Time Away from Tech

The digital age is wonderful. We’re connected all the time and can talk to friends and family members who are all over the world. We can share every part of our lives, which is great if you’re far apart from loved ones. However, the flip side of that is the fact that we are constantly connected, and our smart devices are always receiving messages that need to be attended to. This can be incredibly draining and tiresome.

When you’re out on a stand-up paddle board it’s just you, the board, and the water. Your focus is in the moment and there is no time to check your phone. It’s an excellent antidote to the technology-driven world we live in because you have no choice but to put the phone away and be present in the moment. You can think of it as a mini-digital detox that does you the world of good.

whitewater sup health benefit 2Photo: Shutterstock

A Welcome Break from Sitting

Too many of us spend our lives sitting behind a desk, tapping away on a keyboard or sitting in meetings, and leaning over desks to take notes. This has led to many neck, back and shoulder problems, as well as the shortening of muscles that should be long and the weakening of others that should be strong. A sedentary lifestyle can be a health risk too and sitting for long periods of time can lead to all kinds of ailments and illnesses. Stand up paddling in white water is the perfect solution to the problem because you have to work standing up. Additionally, you’re using muscles that otherwise don’t get used in an office situation. You’re also strengthening your back and core, improving your posture so that you don’t get such a sore neck after sitting for eight hours straight each day.

Standup paddle boarding provides an excellent mental and physical workout for people of all ages. If you start paddling in white water, you’ll soon see the benefits.

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Last modified onMonday, 18 May 2020 16:15
Mark Armstrong

Mark is a full-time globe-trotting kayaking and SUP junkie. Making his way across the world, one rapid at a time. When he's not out paddling on the water he's the chief editor for Kayak Guru, where he writes about anything and everything kayak, fishing, and SUP related.

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San Diego