I’m sure you’ve heard that paddling sports are great forms of exercise – especially for those who love spending time outside. And yes, that applies to paddle boarding, too.
How many calories does paddle boarding burn, though? Could you really get a good workout out of it?
Well, the numbers don’t lie – and if you stick around, I’ll tell you more about it!
What Is A Calorie?
A calorie is a unit of energy – and it’s derived from the food we consume. Everything we eat and drink will contain a certain amount of calories that our bodies can convert into energy and use throughout the day.
The so-called “diet culture” made calories out to be the bad guys – but that’s far from the truth. In fact, our bodies require energy to survive and keep things functioning properly.
But at the same time, it’s key to maintain an energy balance:
Keeping your calorie consumption too low or too high for prolonged periods may eventually lead to health problems. In other words, you must ensure that the amount of calories you consume is in line with your body’s needs – and, more specifically, the amount of energy you use to maintain normal bodily functions and do any form of physical activity.
And obviously, the more physically active you are, the more calories you’ll burn on a daily basis.
When talking about calories in terms of nutrition, there is one thing that may be a bit confusing if you’re new to tracking calories – the nutrition labels.
The calorie content of store-bought foods is typically listed on the packaging under “Energy,” but it’s most often shown in kcals (short for kilocalories) and kJ (short for kilojoules). So, to clear up the confusion, a “kilocalorie” is actually what you’d commonly refer to as a “calorie.” They are one and the same.
What Affects How Many Calories Burned Paddle Boarding?
If your goal is maintaining weight, then maintaining a “caloric balance” – keeping the number of calories you consume roughly equal to the number of calories you burn daily – is something to focus on.
What if you want to lose weight, though?
Then, following that same “calories in, calories out” equation, you should make sure that you are in a calorie deficit – meaning, burning more calories than you consume – over a certain period.
It’s a simple rule – and yet, it’s where things get tricky for most people.
You see, it is virtually impossible to know that you’re, indeed, in a calorie deficit if you don’t even know how much energy your body uses up each day.
The average daily requirement for men is between 2500 and 2700 calories – and for women, it is around 2000 to 2200 calories.
I’ll explain that not-so-subtle difference later, but the point is:
Not everyone requires the same amount of energy (or calories, if you will) each day. It depends on things like your metabolism, overall health, age, sex, weight, height, and how active you are on a daily basis.
On that note, how many calories you will burn paddle boarding will generally depend on the following factors:
- Age – As we get older, our metabolic rate begins to slow down. It’s a natural process that occurs due to changes in body composition – mainly the decrease in muscle mass. If you noticed that losing weight isn’t as easy as it was 10 years ago, that’s why. Your body is no longer burning calories at the same rate as it did when you were younger.
- Sex – Men tend to burn more calories – even at rest – than women. If you compare a man and woman of the same age and weight, the man will burn up to 10% more calories at rest – and the number only goes up with exercise. Women are predisposed to store more fat, while men have greater muscle mass.
- Weight & Body Composition – If you weigh more, you burn more – that’s the basic rule. But it’s not just your weight that’s at play here. Your muscles burn up to three times more energy than fat, meaning that your body composition – mainly your muscle-to-fat ratio – is another contributing factor in terms of calories burned.
- Exercise Intensity – Your workout routine, and, more specifically, the intensity and effort that go into it, will have an impact on how many calories you burn. Your body will undoubtedly start burning more calories to fuel your paddle boarding sessions, but for maximum impact, it’s crucial to keep your training intensity at a higher level.
- Exercise Duration – It should go without saying, but the more you move, the more you’ll burn. A one-hour paddle boarding session will burn more calories than a 15-minute one – that’s just simple math.
Is Stand Up Paddle Boarding A Good Workout?
I get that some of you might still view paddle boarding as something fun and relaxing to do while on vacation. So, let me make something clear:
Yes, paddle boarding is actually a fantastic full-body workout.
Stand-up paddle boarding actually engages more muscles than you would assume, including the following:
- Arm muscles, primarily the triceps and biceps
- Shoulder muscles, mainly the deltoids and the rotator cuff muscles
- Back muscles, including the Latissimus Dorsi (lats), rhomboid muscles, and trapezoid muscles (traps)
- Core muscles, including abdominals (abs) and obliques
- Leg muscles – lower and upper calf, abductors, hamstrings, and quads – and the glutes, along with more than 100 tiny muscles in your feet
It might look effortless from afar – but you’ll definitely feel the burn once you hop on the SUP and start paddling.
And the benefits don’t stop there, either.
Besides just targeting all these different muscles, large and small, stand-up paddle boarding has a ton of other benefits – and just as many reasons to try it this summer.
Here are just a few of them:
- Being out on the water – and just enjoying nature – could be a powerful ally in combating stress and improving your overall sense of well-being.
- Spending time in the sun (with sunscreen, of course) helps your body produce vitamin D.
- The dynamics of standing on a SUP and having to actively work on maintaining balance has an effect similar to physical therapy and keeps your joints healthy.
- It enhances your cardiovascular health and, as such, lowers the risk of suffering a stroke or a heart attack.
- Paddle boarding is an inclusive sport, suitable for virtually everyone, from kids to seniors, and a great way to ease your way into a new exercise routine.
Is Paddle Boarding Cardio?
Stand-up paddle boarding is a great all-around, relatively low-impact workout. But does standing on a board really count as cardio?
Well, you’re in for a surprise!
Do it right – and paddle boarding can be a fantastic blend of strength and cardiovascular training.
Of course, sticking to a leisurely pace likely won’t get your heart rate up high enough to count as actual cardio. The intensity of exercise is, after all, a major contributing factor in this.
However, if you kick things up a bit and maintain a moderate pace, paddle boarding can turn into a sweaty cardio session that will certainly engage the most important muscle in your body – your heart – and improve your cardiovascular endurance.
Is Paddle boarding Good For Weight Loss?
There’s no right or wrong answer here. Paddle boarding will definitely help you burn calories – but burning calories doesn’t necessarily equal losing weight, especially not if you keep consuming more calories than you burn each day.
The key term here is “calorie deficit.”
You should burn more calories than your body needs to maintain your current weight. And doing so requires you to not only count the calories you eat but track the calories you burn doing everyday activities.
That brings us to the age-old question:
Which is more important for weight loss – diet or exercise?
Creating a calorie deficit is every bit as much about your diet as it is about your exercise routine.
Here’s the good news:
There’s no need to do the math manually. There are online calculators, activity trackers, and apps that could help with that – although you should be aware that their accuracy could be a bit “off” at times.
Now, for the not-so-good news:
Losing just one pound of fat requires a 3500-calorie deficit – preferably one achieved through a combination of diet and exercise.
If only losing the weight was as easy as gaining it, huh?
Anyway, if you’re considering taking up paddle boarding as a way to lose weight, you should take a second to determine your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) – and then aim for a 500-calorie deficit on a daily basis.
How Many Calories Can You Burn Paddle Boarding?
Unfortunately, I can’t just give you a number here. The amount of calories burned depends on a range of factors – from your weight to the duration and intensity of your paddling sessions.
That said, on average, recreational stand-up paddle boarding will burn roughly 460 calories per hour. For context, that is roughly about twice the calories you would burn during a moderate paced walk.
Now, here’s some good news:
As with all other forms of physical activity, you can calculate how many calories you’ll burn while stand-up paddle boarding using a simple math equation.
On that note, I feel like I should warn you that the following sections are going to involve quite a bit of math – but I promise that I’ll keep things as simple as possible and try not to throw a bunch of math problems and random numbers your way.
Let’s start with the basic formula for calculating calories burned paddle boarding per minute. This equation will serve as the foundation of everything else we’ll talk about from this point on – and it looks a bit like this:
Calories per min = (MET x Bodyweight (kg) x 3.5) / 200
Don’t worry; I don’t expect you to understand this formula right away. I didn’t get it at first, either – which is why I’d like to go over each variable with you.
What Is MET?
MET, short for Metabolic Equivalent of a Task, is defined as the ratio of your working metabolic rate to your resting metabolic rate. On a related note, your metabolic rate is the rate of energy that you expend per unit of time.
In essence, it’s a way to objectively measure the intensity of an exercise or activity.
One MET would be the energy you use while being at rest – otherwise known as your resting or basal metabolic rate.
Now, here’s where paddle boarding comes into the equation:
According to the 2011 Adult Compendium of Physical Activities, standup paddle boarding has a MET value of 6.0, meaning it’s a moderate-to-vigorous activity that expends six times the energy that you’d exert while at rest.
Pretty impressive, huh?
On that note, here’s an overview of MET values for paddle boarding based on the intensity of the paddling session:
|Physical Intensity||MET Values|
|Light Effort (2.0 mph)||2.8|
|Moderate Effort (4.0 mph)||6.0|
|Vigorous Effort (>6.0 mph)||12.4|
Average Weight In The USA
As CDC reports, the average weight for adults aged 20 or over in the US is:
- Male: 199.8 pounds (90.8 kilograms)
- Female: 170.8 pounds (77.4 kilograms)
Now that you know about the MET value and the average weight for US adults, it’s time to circle back to that formula I shared earlier – and apply some actual numbers to it.
Average Calories Burned Paddle Boarding
Here’s how many calories stand-up paddle boarding burns per minute on average:
- Male: (6.0 x 90.8 kg x 3.5) / 200 = 9.5 calories per minute
- Female: (6.0 x 77.4 kg x 3.5) / 200 = 8.1 calories per minute
If you’re smack in the middle of the average weight range, there you go; you have an idea of how many calories paddle boarding burns per minute.
And what if your weight happens to be lower – or higher – than the average?
Then adjust the weight values accordingly, follow the same equation – (MET x Bodyweight (kg) x 3.5) / 200 – and you’ll have your own personal calorie burn rate in no time.
How Many Calories Burned In An Hour Of Paddle Boarding?
You can work out how many calories you’ll burn in an hour of stand-up paddle boarding using this simple formula:
Calories per Minute x 60 = Calories per Hour
It’s far from rocket science, really, and as long as you remember to factor in your gender, weight, and intensity (as indicated by the MET value), I’m sure figuring out your calorie burn rate per hour of paddle boarding won’t be an issue.
Here’s what these numbers look like for the average adult:
So, depending on how much effort you put into it, you can expect to burn:
- Between 269 and 1182 calories paddle boarding per hour (based on the average weight for men)
- Between 227 and 1008 calories paddle boarding per hour (based on the average weight for women)
How Many Calories Are Burned Paddle Boarding Per Mile?
Many factors will play into how long it takes you to cover a mile on your SUP, like your experience, fitness level, and weather and water conditions.
On average, though, you should be able to paddle board a mile in about 20 to 30 minutes. That amounts to a leisurely pace of two to three miles per hour.
The more skilled you are, the less time it will take to paddle one mile on a SUP. For instance, an intermediate-level paddler could do it in roughly 15 minutes, while professionals can typically do it in under 10 minutes.
So, in terms of how many calories are burned paddle boarding per mile, it depends on your pace:
- A slow walking type pace would be 30 minutes per mile
- A moderate pace would be 15 to 20 minutes per mile
- A fast pace would be 10 minutes per mile
And since we already figured out the average calories burned paddle boarding per minute, it is a lot easier to do the math and work out how much you’d burn per mile:
|Pace Per One Mile|
|Slow Pace||Moderate Pace||Fast Pace|
|Male||133||142 – 190||197|
So, depending on your pace, you can expect to burn:
- Between 133 and 197 calories paddle boarding a mile (based on the average weight for men)
- Between 114 and 168 calories paddle boarding a mile (based on the average weight for women)
Calories Burned Paddle Boarding By Activity
“Stand-up paddle boarding” is an umbrella term of sorts – at least in the sense that there is more than one kind of paddle boarding activity you can participate in. And surprise, surprise, that also has an impact on how many calories you’ll burn.
Here’s an overview of different paddle boarding activities and rough estimates of calories burned per hour for each one:
- SUP Recreational Paddling: 350 – 570 kcal
- SUP Touring: 486 – 570 kcal
- SUP Yoga: 227 – 269 kcal
- SUP Racing: 750 – 1182 kcal
- SUP Surfing: 635 – 800 kcal
How To Burn More Calories Paddle Boarding
The higher intensity of physical activity equals more calories burned; I genuinely hope that much is clear by now.
If you’re interested in burning more calories – hey, more power to you – here are a couple of suggestions:
Use Proper Technique
There’s a pretty big difference between just paddle boarding and paddle boarding the right way. And if you haven’t figured it out by now, then I guess you’ve been doing it wrong this whole time.
Here’s the thing:
Your technique makes all the difference – and not just in terms of preventing injuries and figuring out how to navigate the waters on your SUP better.
There’s also the matter of using all the right muscles instead of simply relying on your hands. If you figure that part out – how to engage your core and make all those large muscle groups work harder with each paddle stroke – you’ll realize what I mean when I say that stand-up paddle boarding is a full-body workout.
Using the correct paddling technique ensures that you fully engage your body, head to toe.
Paddle Faster (Well, Duh!)
Okay, this one is pretty self-explanatory. Upping the intensity of your paddle boarding sessions is bound to get your heart rate up – and burn more calories.
So, have you thought about challenging yourself – and your paddling buddies – to a SUP race?
Remember that the average time it takes to paddleboard a mile is roughly 30 minutes. So, even if you manage to cut that time down to 20 minutes, bringing your paddle boarding speed to three miles per hour, you’ll definitely reap the benefits of an increased pace.
Paddle Board In More Difficult Waters
I wouldn’t typically recommend fighting your way through higher classes of whitewater rapids or going paddle boarding in areas where the tides will definitely be working against you. But I have to admit:
From the exercise point of view, hitting more challenging waters has its perks.
It honestly comes down to the fact that you’re forced to work harder – not just on paddling but on maintaining your balance, too. Plus, you usually can’t afford to be lazy or take a break whenever you feel like it; you have no choice but to keep up with whatever the waters may throw your way.
Trust me; that will be enough to get your heart rate up.
And if you want to seriously challenge yourself, consider trying paddle boarding upstream or into light wind. If that doesn’t get your blood pumping, I honestly don’t know what will.
Add Weight To You Paddle Board
Yup, it can be that simple.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am all for keeping things light and bringing nothing but the essentials with you – but if your goal is burning more calories, then we’re no longer talking about a “regular” outing.
You want to kick things into high gear – and adding more weight could be just the thing.
The extra weight creates more resistance and drag, which means more effort – and more effort means more calories burned. Besides, adding weight to your SUP could also make it feel more stable while still allowing you to reap the benefits of the additional weight.
Decrease The Pressure Of Your Inflatable SUP
If you own an inflatable SUP, there’s one more neat trick you can try to increase the calorie burn – decrease the pressure by inflating it slightly below the recommended PSI.
All inflatable paddle boards have a pressure level suggested by the SUP manufacturer; I’m sure your board is no exception. It usually ranges somewhere between 10 and 20 PSI, depending on the model.
And while you generally want to stick to these guidelines – inflating it to the right air pressure will make the board harder, more efficient, and stable – you can also experiment a bit and see how it feels paddling a SUP that’s not fully inflated.
Lowering the air pressure makes the board less rigid and more likely to flex in the middle, which makes balancing a lot trickier. Plus, it won’t be as efficient – and you’ll be forced to put a lot more effort into each stroke.
Do note that a decrease in pressure usually means a decrease in the SUP’s weight capacity, as well.
Calories Burned Paddle Boarding Compared To Other Activities
Here’s an overview of how many calories paddle boarding burns per hour – and how it compares to other forms of exercise, such as aerobics, running, cycling, and swimming.
I would like to remind you that these are nothing but rough estimates and, as such, shouldn’t be taken at face value. Other factors, like your age, weight, body composition, and the intensity of the workout, all contribute to the number of calories you’ll burn.
So, just keep that in mind.
|Calories Burned Per One Hour Of Activity|
|Aerobics – Low impact||365||455||545|
Based purely on the number of calories burned per one hour of activity, paddle boarding isn’t the most efficient form of exercise; there are activities that burn more calories.
But things aren’t that simple:
Exercise duration is a huge factor when it comes to how many calories you can expect to burn – and if you were to spend more time on your SUP than, say, running or boxing, it would amount to more calories burned.
That’s pretty neat because, for most people, longer paddle boarding sessions are more “doable” than increasing their running mileage, for example.
Calories Burned Kayaking Vs. Paddle Boarding: Does Paddle Boarding Burn More Calories Than Kayaking?
Paddle boarding burns roughly 460 calories per hour; kayaking, on the other hand, burns up to 550 calories per hour on average.
So, I’m afraid kayaking has a slight advantage in this department.
That doesn’t mean one is automatically better than the other, though. Yes, you would technically burn more calories if you took up kayaking instead of paddle boarding – but that’s not all there is to it.
Here’s something to keep in mind:
The best exercise for you is the one you enjoy doing because it is the one you’re more likely to stick to for longer periods.
So, I’ll leave you with this:
If stand-up paddle boarding is something that you genuinely enjoy – well, who cares if it doesn’t burn as many calories as kayaking?
How Many Calories Does Paddle Boarding Burn: Summary
Paddle boarding helps you improve your strength, balance, and endurance, all at the same time – and you can expect to burn up to 460 calories per hour of recreational paddle boarding.
These are just rough estimates, though, and the numbers will vary (a lot) based on your body weight, gender, and effort, among other things. But either way, you’re in for a fantastic full-body workout.