Stand up Paddling and Calorie Burn

From our friends at Surfin OK – So how many calories does paddling boarding burn? If you are paddling hard, up to 800-1000 calories per hour! What can be said is that stand up paddling is just as intense as other paddling water sports such as canoeing, kayaking, or Hawaiian outrigger. If anything SUPing might offer even more caloric efficiency than other board or paddle sports but ultimately it all depends on the style and tempo of the specific paddle boarding session.


In other words, the difference in calories burned among the various forms of stand up paddle boarding will clearly be significant. Here we break down a few of the most basic types and take a look at the calorie-burning implications of each:

  • Recreational Light SUPing: Just enjoying the experience of standing on water and lightly paddling along as you take in the bright sunlight and refreshing air around you will burn about 225 calories per hour. That is similar to what you would expect out of a pleasant hike through the woods or the backcountry.
  • Adventure Touring SUPing: If you prefer exploring new waterways while enjoying the sights and basically going on an adventure outing on your SUP then you will end up spending about 400 to 500 calories an hour. This is because touring or expedition paddling involves slightly more pace, longer workouts, and higher utilization of the core muscle groups. You can compare this to taking a light jog around the neighbourhood early in the morning. However one thing you can’t compare is the wear and tear on your body as compared to running or other forms of exercise required to achieve an intense calorie burning workout.
  • Race or Competition SUPing: This is the most intense form of stand up paddle boarding in terms of exercise and calories burned. When you are expected to paddle at full explosive speed against the elements (including winds and sea state) and then turn around at an outer buoy and head back towards the shoreline, expect at least a good 850 to 1000 calories burnt in an hour. Professionals and SUP racers have been known to notice their core muscles and backs sore after competitive races because they are so intense but this group of watermen is also known for being incredibly fit and healthy as a result of their lifestyle.
  • Surfing SUPing: Surfing on paddle boards is a difficult activity to gauge because it involves short bursts of energy with plenty of intermittent waiting on your knees or belly for the next wave. Nevertheless, SUPers who have recorded their activity levels with calorie/heart rate monitors suggest that moderate sized waves and surfing on them expends 500 to 600 calories an hour. It largely can depend on what’s known as the “interval” or “period” between the waves. Some days the energy that generated the waves (the original storm or wind event) might be thousands of miles away, which will result in the long “lulls” or breaks between wave sets. On the other hand many surf sessions, particularly on the East Coast and Great Lakes, are in short-interval wind waves where there is never a break or rest. This type of steady-state wave catching and paddling is actually the most intense caloric workout available, easily getting into the 1000+ calories per hour burned range. If the waves are large, in addition to just consistent, then that number increases further.

What you should understand from the above comparisons is that no matter what form of Stand Up Paddling you engage in, you will be burning anywhere between 250 to 1000+ calories per hour. That is way more than what you could expect on an elliptical trainer or a treadmill, yet without the destructive pounding of your body that those repetitive sports cause. In fact, the best you could manage on a treadmill is probably 650 calories/hour but even relaxing continuous aerobic workouts on a paddle board (such as SUP Yoga) achieve this without any pain or stress on your joints.



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