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June 4, 2013 at 8:00 AMComments: 2 Faves: 0

Finding Your Center With Stand Up Paddle Boarding

By Kim Straub More Blogs by This Author

Our World of Noise

We are consumed by noise. The buzzing of alarms, the honking of traffic, and the clicking of computer keys are inescapable. Home lives are replete with ringing telephones, barking pets, and screaming kids. Even the gym, a place where we should be able to relieve stress and tension, comes with its own set of noise pollution. Beeping machines, chattering workout buddies, and grunting weightlifters are everywhere. Forget your headphones and you are in for a very distracting workout.

If only we had a magic remote that would allow us to mute out the noise and give us a moment to ourselves. A moment to just be still, enjoy silence, and think about nothing at all. Unfortunately, this magical machine can only exist in our wildest dreams, but a more realistic exercise, called stand up paddle boarding, awaits to give us this peace and quiet on the water.

What is SUP?

Stand up paddle boarding, or SUP, is an ancient form of surfing and is usually performed on flat water. Individuals stand on an over-sized surf board and use a long paddle to navigate the waters. Most boards are ten to twelve feet in length and are around twenty nine inches wide. Wider boards are easier to balance on and are great for beginners. Paddles also come in different lengths and widths. Adjustable paddles are available and are helpful for beginners to discover their ideal paddle length. All of the equipment can be found online or in surf shops. Owning a SUP board may cause your bank account to take a hit, with most boards costing around $800 to $1,000. However, there are many used boards available online, and most surf shops offer rental options.

SUP is very easy to learn, with most individuals standing on their board within an hour of instruction. For those who struggle with balance and coordination, paddling on one or both knees is a great modification.

knee boarding

A Better Body with SUP

Picture a surfer effortlessly gliding across the ocean waves. Along with being fascinated by their skill, you probably can't help but recognize their well-toned bodies. With stand up paddle boarding you can receive the coveted surfer's body without having to face a twenty foot wave. Working on an unbalanced surface will help strengthen your stomach and back (also known as the core muscles). Paddling through the water will tone your upper shoulders and chest, while also improving cardiovascular endurance. With every stroke you will tighten the back of your arms, helping you fight sagging skin and the dreaded pterodactyl wing.

Along with offering an alternative exercise practice, SUP can also be used as a form of rehabilitation. Constantly shifting your weight back and forth while you find your center of balance will help strengthen your ankles and legs and is extremely beneficial for those recovering from breaks and sprains in these areas. Knees and hips will take no impact from SUP, and it is a great form of exercise for individuals with joint issues and arthritis in their lower body.

Safety First

There are a few extra precautions that come along with stand up paddle boarding and being on the water. They include the following:

  • Know how to swim! Even if you are in waist deep water, the tides are constantly changing, and you must be prepared.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Be on the look-out for boats, other surfers, rip tides, strong wind, etc.

  • Be sure someone knows where you are at all times. If you are a beginner, it may even be wise to have a paddle board buddy.

  • Stay properly hydrated. It is highly unlikely that you will want to drink the water you are paddling on. Wear a waist hydration pack filled with fresh water and electrolytes.

  • Put your board on a safety leash. The leash is worn around your ankle or calf and is connected to your board. This will help prevent the board and you from getting separated.

  • Wear sunscreen and eye protection. The sun's rays reflecting off of the water can be very dangerous. If you are paddling long distance, a rash guard is extremely beneficial.

Nirvana on the Paddle Board

Every time you step foot on a stand up paddle board you will find yourself on a new and exciting journey. While exploring rivers, lakes, and coastlines, you will be developing a sense of balance and toning your body. While listening to the sound of lapping waves you will be reducing stress and lowering your blood pressure. Gazing at the ever-changing scenery all around you will help you tune out your hectic life and allow your mind to be still and empty. It won't be long before you realize that a mute button for life does exist, and it comes in the form of a stand up paddle board.


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  • I've always wanted to do this!

  • yes, it sure looks like a lot of fun!

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