Stand-up paddleboarding grows as a fitness and competitive activity

This is an Inside Science story.

“Stand-up paddleboarding’s great because I’m working out. I’m standing. You’re getting a balance exercise, a little more so than you would in a canoe or kayak. There’s so many variations. Some people use it for yoga. Some people use it for just fitness. Some people use it for recreation, for touring, for just nature, photography. I’m involved with more fitness and racing personally, but we have fishing stand-up paddleboats as well,” said John Batson, a physician in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

Batson has volunteered with the U.S. ski and snowboard team.

“I grew up windsurfing and wakeboarding. And now I enjoy kiteboarding and have gravitated towards stand-up paddleboarding as well. I think a lot of people are intimidated when they see it related to surfing, but in general stand-up paddleboarding, you’ll start on a wider board and calmer conditions. And so it’s a balance exercise more so at first. And once you get to that level where you’re very efficient on the water, it’s just like walking for fitness or running for fitness,” said Batson.

Like other types of exercise, if you over do it, injuries can happen, especially from the sport’s repetitive motion.

“We don’t know a lot about the injuries that are coming as people do it more and more. But with regards to what information we do have, we tend to see those that at an elite level, that are racing more, that are putting more miles in — guys a little more than the ladies — tend to get more overuse injuries,” said Batson.

Balancing paddleboarding with an exercise that doesn’t use the upper body can help people stay fit and also rest their upper bodies.

“You’re going to want to have time to rest your shoulders. You’re going to want to work a lot on your core muscles because you want them to be very strong so that they’re not subject to fatigue injuries when paddleboarding. There’s a safety element there too that we’re really emphasizing that you want to have a PFD on, a lifejacket on. They do make them low profile that are more like a belt. And then even more importantly, a leash attached to your board so that if you did get separated, your board’s going to be with you,” said Batson.

Paddleboarding can offer more than just good exercise.

“It’s just a wonderful sport to get out, do some fitness, be out in nature, which is great for your mood to get out from the computer and see some amazing sights. It’s becoming a wonderful sport with a great community,” concluded Batson.

Inside Science is an editorially-independent nonprofit print, electronic and video journalism news service owned and operated by the American Institute of Physics.

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