Is Paddleboarding Good Exercise?

Is Paddleboarding Good Exercise?

Is Paddleboarding A Good Workout?

Yes, paddleboarding is indeed a good workout. It offers a combination of strength, balance, and endurance training, all while being a low-impact activity.

Here's how paddleboarding can benefit your fitness:

Core Strength

paddleboard workouts for core

Keeping your balance on the board engages your core muscles, including your abs, obliques, and lower back. The act of paddling also works your core as you twist your body to propel yourself forward.

Paddleboarding is a great way to strengthen your core muscles, which include your abdominals, lower back, obliques, and hips. Here's how it works:


Paddleboarding requires you to maintain your balance on an unstable surface - the board on water. This requires constant micro-adjustments from your core muscles to keep you upright. The act of balancing engages both the large muscles and the smaller, stabilizing muscles in your core.


The act of paddling itself is a full-body exercise, but your core is particularly engaged. When you paddle, you're not just using your arms; you're rotating your torso and activating your core muscles with each stroke. This constant twisting motion helps strengthen your obliques, lower back, and abdominal muscles.


Standing upright on the board encourages good posture. Good posture requires core strength, and maintaining it throughout a paddleboarding session gives these muscles a significant workout.


Water provides resistance, which means your muscles, including those in your core, have to work harder to paddle and maneuver the board.

Paddleboarding, like any exercise, should be performed with proper technique to get the most benefits and prevent injury. Be sure to warm up before you start, cool down afterward, and hydrate adequately.

If you're new to the sport, consider taking a lesson or two to learn proper paddle form and safety tips.

Upper Body Strength

poddleboard workouts

Paddling primarily targets the muscles in your upper body, including your arms, shoulders, and back. Each stroke works these muscles, and the resistance of the water adds to the intensity of the workout.

Here's a breakdown of how it works:


Both your biceps and triceps are engaged as you paddle. Your biceps work as you pull the paddle through the water, and your triceps work as you push the paddle down and back.


Your shoulder muscles are heavily involved in the paddling motion. They help stabilize your arms as you push and pull the paddle through the water. Over time, this can help build shoulder strength and endurance.


Paddleboarding is an effective way to strengthen your back muscles, particularly your latissimus dorsi (or "lats"), the largest muscles in your back. As you pull the paddle through the water, your lats are engaged, helping to propel you forward.


Although the chest isn't the primary muscle group used in paddleboarding, it still plays a role. Your pectoral muscles work in coordination with your shoulders and arms, especially during the recovery phase of the stroke (bringing the paddle forward).


While the core isn't traditionally considered part of the upper body, it plays a crucial role in paddleboarding.

A strong core helps with balance on the board and generates power for the paddling stroke. The rotational movement during paddling engages the obliques, part of the core group of muscles, which in turn assists in the strengthening of the upper body.

Lower Body Strength

paddleboarding lower body workouts

While your upper body does the majority of the work during paddleboarding, your legs and lower body also play a significant role in maintaining balance and stability on the board.

At first glance, paddleboarding might seem to primarily engage your upper body and core, but it actually provides a full-body workout, including your lower body.

Here's how paddleboarding can improve your lower body strength:

Balance and Stability

The act of balancing on a paddleboard primarily engages your core, but your lower body—especially your legs—also play a significant role. Your legs and feet make countless micro-adjustments to keep you balanced and upright on the board, strengthening your lower body muscles over time.


While your upper body does the bulk of the work when paddling, your legs also play a crucial role in maintaining your balance and helping to guide your direction.

This is particularly true when you're turning the paddleboard or paddling in rougher waters. The quads, hamstrings, and calves all get a workout during a paddleboarding session.

Hips and Glutes

These muscles are essential for maintaining balance on the board. They work with your core to help you stand upright and keep your balance, especially when the water is choppy. Furthermore, movements like side-to-side board shifting or deep paddle strokes engage your glutes and hip flexors.

Feet and Ankles

Paddleboarding can also help strengthen your feet and ankles. These muscles and joints are continually adjusting to keep you balanced on the board, which can improve both their strength and flexibility.

Overall, while paddleboarding might not provide the intense lower-body workout you'd get from activities like running or weightlifting, it still engages and strengthens your lower body muscles, contributing to your overall fitness.

Cardiovascular Fitness

girl exercising on paddleboard

Paddleboarding can also be a good cardiovascular workout, especially if you paddle at a faster pace or over longer distances. Like any form of cardio, this can help improve your heart health and overall endurance.

Full-Body Workout

Paddleboarding engages almost every muscle in the body, which means your heart has to work to supply oxygen-rich blood to those muscles. This gives your cardiovascular system a workout, strengthening your heart and improving your overall fitness.


Paddleboarding is a low-impact activity that you can do for extended periods, similar to long-distance running or cycling. Over time, this can improve your cardiovascular endurance, meaning your body becomes more efficient at supplying the necessary oxygen and nutrients to your muscles during prolonged exercise.


You can adjust the intensity of your paddleboarding workout to fit your fitness level. If you want a more challenging cardiovascular workout, try paddling faster or navigating through choppy waters.

Burns Calories

Depending on the intensity, paddleboarding can burn a significant number of calories, which can contribute to weight loss or maintaining a healthy weight. Weight management is an essential aspect of heart health.

Stress Reduction

Paddleboarding is also a great way to reduce stress. Being in nature and the rhythmic motion of paddling can be very calming. Lower stress levels can lead to lower blood pressure and a healthier heart.

As with any sport, it's essential to use the correct technique to avoid injury and get the most benefit from your workout.

If you're new to paddleboarding, you might consider taking a class or hiring an instructor to learn the basics. Always remember to use safety gear, including a personal flotation device and a tether to keep your board close if you fall off.

Balance and Coordination

improve balance and coordination on paddleboard

Standing upright on a paddleboard requires a great deal of balance and coordination. These skills are crucial in many aspects of fitness and general physical health.

Paddleboarding is an excellent activity for improving balance and coordination, as it engages your whole body and requires you to constantly adjust to the shifting water.


Staying upright on a paddleboard requires a good sense of balance. Your body is constantly making minor adjustments to maintain equilibrium on the moving water. Over time, these constant adjustments can significantly improve your balance.


Paddleboarding requires a lot of coordination. You have to coordinate your strokes on each side of the board to move forward and to steer. This can improve both your gross motor coordination (larger movements like paddling) and fine motor coordination (smaller adjustments for balance).

Core Stability

A strong core is crucial for balance. Paddleboarding is an excellent core workout because your abdominal muscles are constantly engaged to help keep you balanced on the board. This, in turn, improves your overall balance, even when you're off the board.

Leg Strength and Stability

Your legs and feet play a crucial role in keeping you balanced on the board, strengthening these muscles and improving their stability over time.

Body Awareness

Paddleboarding also helps improve your proprioception, or body awareness. This is your sense of the position and movement of your body, and it's crucial for balance and coordination. By making constant adjustments on the board, you're enhancing your proprioception, which can benefit you in other physical activities and daily life.

Adapting to Changes

The changing conditions of the water require you to continually adapt your balance and movements, which can improve your ability to quickly react and adjust your balance in other situations.

Remember, like any new skill, improving your balance and coordination on a paddleboard takes time and practice.

Mental Health

paddlboarding for mental health

Beyond physical fitness, paddleboarding can also have benefits for your mental health. Being out on the water can be calming and meditative, which can help reduce stress and improve your mood.

Paddleboarding can significantly contribute to improving mental health due to various factors:

Nature and Outdoors

Spending time outdoors and in nature has been proven to reduce stress, improve mood, and promote a sense of calm. The peaceful environment of being on the water can particularly provide a sense of tranquility and help reduce anxiety.

Physical Activity

Regular physical activity, like paddleboarding, can release endorphins, the body's natural mood elevators. Regular exercise has been linked to reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety and improved self-esteem.

Meditative Aspects

The rhythmic nature of paddleboarding, with its repetitive strokes and the gentle sway of the board on the water, can create a meditative state which helps in relaxing the mind and reducing stress levels.


Paddleboarding requires focus and present-moment awareness. You need to pay attention to your balance, your strokes, and the water conditions. This focus on the present moment can act as a form of mindfulness, which has been shown to improve mental health.

Social Connection

If you paddleboard with others, whether in a class or just with friends, it can provide a sense of community and belonging, which are essential for mental wellbeing.

Confidence and Mastery

Learning a new skill like paddleboarding, and seeing your progress over time, can improve self-confidence and self-esteem. This mastery over a new skill can give a mental boost.

Sunshine and Vitamin D

Exposure to sunlight during outdoor activities like paddleboarding can help boost your levels of Vitamin D, which has been linked to improved mood and reduced symptoms of depression.

As with any form of exercise, it's important to start slow if you're new to paddleboarding and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts as your fitness improves. 

Paddleboarding Gear

inflatable paddleboards

As your trusted partner for all things paddleboarding, we're committed to delivering high-quality, innovative boards designed for all skill levels. Explore our stand up paddle boards and find the perfect board for your next adventure.

It's also crucial to follow safety guidelines while paddleboarding, including using a leash and wearing a life vest.

Bonus: here is a Paddleboarding fitness calculator showing calories burned. It's based on averages.  

1 comment

  • David Masessa

    Hey! I have an order going out today. One quick question before I place.
    I have a eight year old, roughly 5 feet tall, 55lbsish. Do you guys have paddleboards for kids or what would you recommend for that size? If you did, I may have if possible, add to that shipping order, that additional craft, that’d be great. Thanks

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