From the moment of that first step onto a Stand Up Paddleboard, SUP, your body will thank you. Balance will immediately be challenged. Muscles groups will be engaged in new ways. Take a deep breath. Enjoy the glory of the Okanagan surroundings. From that point on, depending on the type of board, activity, location, and personal motivation, it will be easy to reap countless health benefits.
Paddle boarding is an excellent full body workout, a combination of balance, strength and endurance. Almost every muscle in the body is used at some time. During a paddle outing the upper body muscle groups being activated are those in your back, shoulders and arms. But that’s not all. Maintaining balance on a board requires engagement of your abdominal muscles, working your core and also challenging leg muscles, depending on what’s happening on the surface of the water. More wind and waves, means more workout. The result? Increased core stability, a trimmer figure and improved balance in other activities. Take a few lessons to get the most benefit out of your SUP workout.
Stand Up Paddling, can also serve as a rehabilitation workout to recover from injuries in other sports. Low impact in nature, SUP can be as gentle as you want on muscles and joints, which makes it the perfect activity for injured runners.
Like running or aerobics, paddle boarding may help to prevent heart attacks and stroke. After the basics are mastered, try a few impromptu races with friends to get your heart rate up and improve cardiovascular health. Keep at it. Find an expert to help develop a schedule to increase the time and intensity of each workout. Endurance and strength will build, slowly and steadily, all while you’re having fun. Toning and weight loss add positive impact to the package.
The next step? How about racing? The Okanagan Valley boasts all sorts of water surfaces, lakes and rivers, smooth or wavy depending on the time of day, current or not; yours to choose. You’ll find lots of places to practice and hone your newly acquired paddling skills. When you feel pumped and ready to race, check out www.oksup.com for the schedule of Canadian SUP race events, taking place from May to September, many right here in the Okanagan and as far away as Hood River, Oregon. A classic favourite of locals is the Kalamalka Crossing, a scenic 16-kilometre paddle along the full length of the lake. The event starts in Oyama on Wood Lake, includes a dash from the beach around a buoy, then though the channel that connects the two lakes heading North towards Kal Beach. Paddlers enter for fun, exercise, to enjoy the beauty of the lake or to beat their time from the previous year. Good news. Even if you have never set foot on a paddleboard, there is still time to train and enter. This year’s race is slated for Sunday, August 26, 2018.
An early morning paddle over the glassy surface of a quiet lake can set you up for the day ahead.
If ramping up for a season of races seems just too, too much to imagine, perhaps the cross training benefits of yoga combined with stand up paddle would be more your style. Suddenly Downward Dog and Warrior poses you thought you had mastered will require added strength and balance when attempted on a paddleboard. Classes are available throughout the Okanagan for you to give it a try this summer. Two possibilities to check out include jennypoppitt.com or martiniyoga.com.
If you are ready for the commitment of buying your own equipment, make sure the board you choose matches your goals. For SUP yoga look for a board that offers stability as well as comfort such as wide inflatable boards with lots of volume. For touring or racing a wide variety of options is available. And, don’t forget a water bottle and sunscreen when you plan to be out on the water for a while. To lengthen the season, purchase a wetsuit. Safety is paramount in all types of weather so don’t go without a leash and some kind of personal flotation device, PFD.
If you can’t get enough of your new favourite sport, a SUP yoga retreat may be in order. Could be a consideration in choosing your next vacation location. So whether you choose to ramp it up with races or prefer to calm it down with yoga, the health benefits of SUP are endless.