How Stand Up Paddle Boarding Can Improve Every Facet of Your Life

In Health, Wellness by Daniel

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Learn how SUP can be the ultimate tool to improve almost every facet of your life!

In this article, we discuss ways stand up paddle boarding can help you improve and ultimately live a better life. 

In the health and wellness space, there has always been the idea of a “magic pill.” One simple solution that when taken daily could completely alter and improve every portion of your life. 

This pill, of course, does not exist (yet). 

But there is one thing that comes close – exercise.

Dr. Peter Attia, health and lifespan specialist states, “Exercise might be the most potent ‘drug’ we have for extending the quality and perhaps quantity of our years of life.”

Turns out the magic pill isn’t a pill at all. Instead, it’s as simple as moving your body daily. 

While any form of exercise will ultimately help your body, there are unique activities you can do to improve not just your health but almost every facet of your life. 

One such activity is stand up paddle boarding. 

It seems like an incredible claim. We understand. But that’s why we’ve compiled a list of areas paddle boarding can improve in your life and how the activity accomplishes it. 

With this list, you’ll be better prepared to expand your comfort zones on the water to include different activities, increase your time spent on your SUP, and if you’re still on the fence trying to decide whether you should give paddling a try…

We believe you will be completely convinced. 

Come along with us as we explain how SUP can improve almost every facet of your life and how you can get started with the activity – today! 

Low Barrier of Entry

One of the best features of stand up paddle boarding is the ability to begin right away. Unlike other board sports, SUP is completely accessible to everyone — regardless of age or athletic ability. 

All you need is a few lessons from a qualified instructor and you will be able to master the basics on the water your first time out. 

This is not the case compared to other water sports. 

Take surfing for example. To understand the mechanics of surfing and successfully catch your first wave, you will need to spend hours upon hours in the water taking lessons and continuously falling. 

In addition, SUP is affordable. Compared to a day on the slopes which might cost you well over $300-$500 for rentals, gear, and time on the slopes, an afternoon on the water will run anywhere between $35-$50 for an hour of lesson or rental. 

SUP is truly an all-inclusive activity that has a low barrier of entry for anyone regardless of age, athletic ability, or cost. 

Benefits for the Mind-Body-Soul

The terms mind, body, and soul describe the three always-entwined aspects of ourselves. 

We all have a mind that is constantly chattering throughout the day. We all have a body that needs specific nutrients and movement to thrive. And we all have a soul that whispers to us in times of solitude. 

Each portion of ourselves inspires and informs our daily experiences. 

When these three sections of ourselves are in harmony we experience ease. When in disharmony we experience disease. 

Tools for the Mind-Body-Soul

In the East, different peoples developed techniques to connect the mind, body, and soul in harmony through practices like Tai Chi, Yoga, and Chi Gong

These are effective tools for experiencing ease. If you haven’t given them a try we suggest you do. 

The reason why they are effective is that it combines bodily movements, a quiet mind, and a peaceful soul. 

When you are in the moment, flowing through poses or stances, your body receives the proper movement it requires to detoxify by draining your lymph system (the waste system in your body). With these movements, your mind is forced to stay in the present moment. And with these two combined, your soul feels quiet and peaceful. 

It is only when we are stagnant, frustrated, sick, or stiff that the mind and body rebel causing our souls to feel restless and irritated. All resulting in disease. 

The problem is, we don’t always have a class to attend. Instead, we are forced to look for additional modalities. 

The good news is you can find this body, mind, and soul connection in SUP. While on the water, you are tasked with balancing, taking in your natural surroundings, or paddling through obstacles or near boat traffic. This forces you to stay in the moment causing your mind to become quiet. 

Your body receives the proper movement to stimulate the age-delaying mechanisms and with this important combination, your soul feels at ease — especially in a natural environment like being on the water. 

For a true mind, body, and soul connection, leave the studio behind and give stand up paddle boarding a try. 

stand up paddle boarding

Saltwater and Blue Space

Have you ever wondered why time at the beach elevates your mood? Why is it that when you leave after the sun sets you are filled with an overwhelming sense of calm and peace?

There are reasons for this experience. They have to do with the saltwater you come into contact with

Increase in Magnesium

The air in a coastal town and the ocean itself is full of the important mineral magnesium. The benefits of it include helping to regulate muscle and nerve function, and blood sugar levels, and can help to regulate your sleep. 

But did you know a recent study found that half of Americans are deficient in this vital nutrient?

With a deficiency in Magnesium, other vital nutrients are also not fully utilized including Vitamin D (more on that later). 

By spending time in the ocean on your SUP, even with just your feet in the water, you increase the amount of magnesium you absorb and in turn live a healthier, happier life. 

Saltwater and Your Skin

Have you ever visited the beach during your vacation and found many of your skin ailments have disappeared?

This is because of the high mineral profile of the ocean beyond just magnesium. 

Seawater is also rich in zinc, iron, and potassium. These minerals are anti-inflammatory which helps to heal and protect the skin barrier. 

Soaking in the seawater is nature’s skin treatment, especially for those with sensitive skin, who may suffer from eczema and psoriasis. 

Saltwater and Your Body

The sea is full of vital nutrients most of our bodies are deficient in. But so does the salty air. By breathing in the fresh air, eating fresh seafood, and paddling/swimming in the sea, we absorb these nutrients at high levels which help us to live and function at an optimal level. 

The salt alone helps us oxygenate our blood and regulate blood sugar levels. 

Combine these benefits with the mind, body, and soul connection you receive from an afternoon on your SUP, and you’ll be amazed at how good you feel throughout the day. 

stand up paddle boarding

Vitamin D 

These days, we’re all aware of how important Vitamin D is to our immune system. 

But just like magnesium, almost everyone is deficient in it. 

According to Dr. Zahid Naeem, “Vitamin D deficiency is a global health problem. With all the medical advances of the century, vitamin D deficiency is still an epidemic. Over a billion people worldwide are vitamin D deficient or insufficient.”

But what does vitamin D do exactly?

  • Fights depression
  • Fights the flu
  • Helps your heart
  • Helps fight cancer
  • Builds your bones
  • Helps with weight loss

And more!

The best way to increase your natural levels of Vitamin D is by spending time in the sun. Naturally, stand up paddle boarding is best experienced on a sunny day when the weather is warm. As you spend time paddling in the natural environment, you will increase your levels of vitamin D and in turn improve almost every health marker. 

Low Impact Full-Body Workout

Stand up paddle boarding is a great low-impact full-body workout. But to understand why it is, we first need to go over what low impact means. 

The dictionary definition of low impact is as follows, “Any physical sport with minimal wear and trauma to weight-bearing joints, especially of the foot, knee, and hips.”

As we participate in athletic endeavors we tend to put most of our weight and stress on our major joints. 

After continuous use, this can lead to extensive wear and tear on places like our knees, hips, and feet. 

To counter this, we need to find ways we can still stay active while not putting unnecessary stress on these major areas.

One such way is to use SUP as a supplemental exercise. 

When you’re standing on a board, the soft surface of the water takes away the unnecessary stress your joints encounter while on a hard surface. 

Plus, with every correct paddle stroke, you are using your entire body — from the balance receptors in your feet up to pushing the board through the water with your shoulders.

For a great way to stay in shape without damaging your joints, consider SUP the answer

stand up paddle boarding

Strength and Cardio

Along with it being a great low impact way to stay in shape, stand up paddle boarding can also be whatever you make it. 

You can experience a relaxing evening on the water with a leisurely paddle. Or you can turn up your training with sprints and long-distance paddling for great strength and cardio workout. 

To do this, use the elements, like the wind, to your advantage. 

When you paddle against the wind, in the waves, or against a current you are using the resistance to increase your strength. 

This does require a bit of experience before giving it a try.  

As you paddle into the wind, keep your stroke tight and use the proper form. Hinge from the hips, push your paddle blade as far forward as you can to get the proper catch and use your entire body to push the board towards your blade as you pull back.

Paddling in the wind allows you to practice going in a straight line while using your whole body stroke. Combine this with a quick return - getting the paddle back in the water - and you’ll feel the difference in each stroke. 

High-Gear Stroke

Your body is a sail just by the nature of standing on a board and paddling in the wind. Every moment your paddle is out of the water, it gives the wind a chance to push you around. By developing quickness while maintaining good technique, you will be able to develop a “high-gear” stroke. This is similar to the stroke you will use to get through boat wakes, catch a wave in the ocean, as well as the one you will use for your paddle race stroke. 

The best way to learn a “high-gear” paddle stroke is by heading into the wind for a certain amount of time and distance. Once you have that down, you can really start going places on your SUP including long distance tours and other adventures. 

By using proper stroke technique that engages all your major muscle groups in your legs, core, and upper body, and combining it with resistance wind training, you’ll be well on the way to increasing your fitness levels too.

An additional way you can use SUP for training is by increasing your cardiovascular output

When most people paddle, they tend to take a leisurely attitude toward the activity. This will keep them in a low heart-rate state and will not really push your cardiovascular output. 

But the effort you put into SUP greatly affects the output. 

If you want to train your cardiovascular health the best way to do it is through sprints! Pick a direction you want to paddle, go as hard as you can for about 20 seconds, rest for 10, and repeat. 

This will push you into a max heart rate (or close to it) and allow you to recover until you are ready for the next sprint. 

Repeat this process a few times and you’ll be training your cardiovascular health right on the water.

stand up paddle boarding

Muscle Mass

As you begin to use stand up paddle boarding as a way to increase your strength and cardiovascular health, you will start to see some major benefits. 

One such benefit is the growth of your muscle mass. 

Muscle mass instead of the widely used BMI, or body mass index, has been shown to be a healthier marker for longevity in older adults. 

According to new UCLA research, “It suggests that the more muscle mass older Americans have, the less likely they are to die prematurely. The findings add to growing evidence that overall body composition — and not the widely used body mass index, or BMI — is a better predictor of all-cause mortality.”

If you want to exercise in a way that has a low impact on your joints but can increase your strength and muscle mass if used correctly, then consider giving SUP a try. 

Mobility and Flexibility

As we age, our bodies tend to succumb to age-related inflammation. This is mostly due to a lack of mobility and flexibility training.

When you don't stretch your muscles, they tend to tighten up. 

Obviously, as you advance through life your priorities often change. Certain responsibilities like taking care of the kids, work, and other life stressors can take precedent. As a result, trips to the gym is often put on hold.

To counter this calcification, it is important to undertake a strict mobility and flexibility routine. One of the best ways to do this is through SUP yoga

While a resistance paddle or long distance paddle can train your strength and cardio, an afternoon in a SUP yoga class can have a dramatic effect on your mobility and flexibility.

Each class runs you through a series of poses that will lengthen large muscle groups in your body and fill you with a deeper sense of calm and peace once the class has ended. 

After you’re done training your strength and cardio on certain days, it’s great practice to participate in a SUP yoga class to counter the effects of tightening your muscles. This will ensure your body stays supple and strong — for years to come. 

stand up paddle boarding

Balance Training

Athletic endeavors require effort from your body. By being under constant stress when performing athletic endeavors, it’s not unusual to experience injury in major joints. This can be the case when it comes to your knees. 

One of the best ways to prevent knee pain or injury is by strengthening the muscles that surround them. A great way to do this is through balance training

By balancing on a moving surface like a SUP, you are forced to use muscles in your legs and around your knees, ones that we don’t normally use, just to stand upright. By continuing with this type of training, the muscles surrounding your knees become stronger and this will prevent injury over time. 

Additional benefits of balance training include:

Body Awareness

The sense of how your limbs are oriented in space. This is also called proprioception. Balance training improves your body awareness which decreases the likelihood of injury when performing complex athletic movements. 


Balance training forces your major muscle groups to work together to maintain an upright posture on a SUP. Improved coordination will translate to other areas of your training. 

Reaction Time

If you happen to slip or stumble while on a SUP, your body needs to re-balance quickly or you will fall in. This will improve your reaction time in other athletic endeavors. 

Long Term Health

As we age, our balance can deteriorate. This can lead to slips, falls, and injuries whether you’re training or not. By maintaining a balance training routine on a SUP, you are more likely to maintain balance in your everyday life. Especially as you age.  

stand up paddle boarding

Healthy Weight Management

We’ve already discussed how stand up paddle boarding can improve your strength, cardio, flexibility, increase your muscle mass, and improve your balance. 

Well, what do all of these add up to?

A healthy weight management for your body. Why is this important?

According to a Harvard Health article, “Science is quite clear that excess weight raises a person’s risk for heart attack, stroke, and diabetes. Excess visceral (belly) fat, which is stored in the abdominal cavity, is the greatest threat because of its association with high blood pressure, elevated blood sugars and abnormal lipid profiles.”

By participating in SUP and using the vessel in the ways discussed above, you will automatically cause your body to shed excess weight. 

This will result in a happier and healthier you!

The Benefits of Being Barefoot

Did you know…

Walking barefoot in nature has recently become widely known to decrease stress and leave you feeling more grounded and present in your day-to-day life?

It’s true! And while you’re enjoying time on your SUP, you can be barefoot for the entire afternoon. 

But what exactly does being barefoot do? And why should you give it a try?

Let’s discuss…

Better Alignment

Our body structures are connected. Any issue we experience in one area will eventually lead to a connecting problem elsewhere. This is no less true than in the way we walk. Most modern shoes and sneakers have a thick layer of padding and arch support. In theory, this is to help with our walking alignment and posture. In practice, it often does the opposite. 

Instead of increasing awareness of our gait, as well as how our ankles, knees, and hips all work together to efficiently move from point A to point B, we instead can haphazardly walk anywhere, over any surface, without awareness of how our system is supposed to run. By walking barefoot, you strip away the cushioning layer that prevents you from feeling your natural gait. Instead you return to your original alignment between your ankles, knees, and hips. As a result, you walk efficiently and with care. This prevents lower leg injuries and engages more major muscle groups. 

Strengthen Feet, Ankle, Calves

As we already stated, our current forms of shoes are often highly cushioned and supportive. While great for certain environments, they can also reduce engagement of fine muscles and connective tissues on your lower legs. By walking barefoot, you will feel a more natural foot movement and better distribution of weight across your toes, feet, ankles, and calves. This will in turn, increase the strength of your lower legs and help you avoid injuries in the future. 

Strengthen Arches

With inbuilt foot support in modern shoes, your feet tend to become lazy due to underuse. This is especially true in the arches of your feet. Over time, the strength of supportive structures will diminish. By walking barefoot you will strengthen your foot arches, return to a more natural step, and prevent injuries as well as foot and knee pain. 

“Earthing” of “Grounding”

The idea behind Earthing is simple: the Earth is negatively charged. When you ground, or connect to the Earth with bare feet, you’re connecting your body to a negatively charged supply of energy in the Earth. Because the Earth has a greater negative charge than your body, you absorb electrons from it. 

These electrons clear the body of free radicals that create damage and inflammation. You’re in a way detoxifying your body by connecting your skin to the Earth. And it has been shown to help with insomnia and other autoimmune disorders as well. 

Pretty cool, right? The next time you decide to SUP, take a few steps on the natural surface before you climb aboard and see if you can feel any of these positive reactions. 

If you're interested in learning additional ways being barefoot can improve your health, as well as some basics "do's" and "don'ts" in order to get started, we have an entire article dedicated to the subject HERE.

stand up paddle boarding


As your body begins to heal, you become stronger, healthier, and more alive each time you take out your SUP, you will also notice your confidence grow — both on and off the water. 

While standing on your board you are the captain, you are the motor, you are the navigator of the ship. And as one, you are in control of your time while paddling. Plus, as you gain experience and test yourself in new environments around the world, your confidence will naturally grow as a consequence. 

SUP can be a tool for a better body and for an increase in confidence. 

stand up paddle boarding


We’ve already discussed how SUP increases your balance. This can keep you young, healthy, and strong. But there is one thing that balance training does that most people don’t discuss…

It keeps you in the present moment

While standing on a board, you are forced to feel the weight shifting underneath your feet. The repetitive paddling motion allows your mind to become quiet, focused on the task at hand. And your immersion in the natural world is a sure-fire way to let your troubles and other worries drift away. 

In short, you are increasing your mindfulness by practicing meditation in motion. 

The repetitive motions and having to constantly adjust to the moving water underneath your feet places you squarely in the present, quieting your mind, and allowing you to experience a relaxed alertness. 

There are other ways to experience this feeling with meditation being the first and foremost, but SUP is probably the one that involves the most fun. 


One of the best features about stand up paddle boarding is the ability to experience anywhere in the world. All across the globe there are outfitters waiting to rent you a board, get you on the water, and see their countries from this unique perspective. 

In addition, you can meet new paddlers who share the same passions you do, expanding your friends circle, and increasing the richness with which you experience the world. 

Our world is connected like never before. With SUP, you have one additional connecting thread that ties us all together. 

stand up paddle boarding


An additional benefit stand up paddle boarding is the built-in community inherent to the activity. 

As you become comfortable on the water, you’ll be able to spot other paddlers out there, where you can approach them, introduce yourself, and make friends. 

You already have an activity in common that you can connect with so finding the right icebreaker is a breeze! 

In addition, as you gain experience, you’ll naturally gravitate to events, races, fun classes, even travel abroad.

And you can find a Paddle Buddy on Perfect Paddles where you will be able to match your skills with a paddler in your area. Quickly introduce yourself and start having fun on the water today! 

When your skills expand on your SUP, so does your friend circle. 

stand up paddle boarding

Learn About the Natural World

SUP requires knowledge about our water environments if you want to have a good time. 

As you grow with the activity you will be forced to learn about:

  • Tides
  • Winds
  • Wave reports
  • River flows
  • Currents
  • Weather reports

This knowledge is useful when you’re on the water. But it can also be useful on land as well. By understanding the natural world, you reduce a layer of separation between you and it. You develop a deeper appreciation for the nuances of life outside your door. 

And you can help additional paddlers determine when is the best time to paddle or when the good waves come rolling through. 

An understanding of the way our world works isn’t necessary any longer to survive within it. However, with this knowledge you gain appreciation for the way it works. 

Wildlife Connection

One of the best ways to experience time on the water is with a wildlife tour. Modern day humans, especially those of us who don’t live on the coast, are very disconnected with the wildlife found in our water environments. 

By hopping a board and paddling into the ocean, river, or lake, you have the chance to connect with species like dolphin, fish, manatee, whales, and more right in their own natural environment. 

Combine this with epic sunrises, sunsets, or even a bioluminescence tour, and you’re creating memories that will become unforgettable. 

Paddle boarding is a rare opportunity to meet the water environment in its natural element. And it’s something you should not pass up! 

stand up paddle boarding

Understand Change

Change is a constant in life. Bad things happen, we adjust. Good things happen, we celebrate. In between our physical bodies also go through subtle changes. 

If you’re not prepared change can be difficult to accept. That is, unless you have practice. 

On a SUP you learn to cope with change. While in a fluid environment in ever-changing conditions you are met with endless possibilities to practice dealing with change. 

Each time you paddle it is likely you will experience your senses being overwhelmed. With time and patience, you can practice to calm yourself down and assess the appropriate actions you need to take. 

This is a skill you can develop on the water. And by understanding and getting familiar with how you react in these moments you will find it benefits in your everyday life. You will be prepared to conquer anything that life throws at you…

On or off the water. 

stand up paddle boarding

Let’s Get Out There!

Stand up paddle boarding is a great way to experience the world on the water and live your best life. Over time, the activity can truly improve almost every facet of your life. You just need to remember to wear sunscreen, dress for immersion, and lift weights occasionally to supplement your paddle boarding activities. 

Ready to give SUP a try? You will find everything you need to know to get started at Head to our Trip Planning Tools section to find an outfitter near you for a beginner lesson. Or check out our Knowledge and Resources section for additional articles detailing answers to specific questions you may have as a beginner. 

With our help, your time on the water will be the best thing you ever did to improve your life! 

About the Author


Daniel is a travelling author with a passion for exploring new waterways and sharing his experiences with the world.

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