How Many Calories Does Paddle Boarding Burn?

Paddle boarding's growing popularity comes not just from its fun factor - it also provides an incredible full body workout! But exactly how many calories can you burn paddle boarding? We break down paddle boarding's calorie burn potential by your weight, paddle boarding type, pace, and session duration. You'll learn how to maximize fat burning during every paddle for accelerated results!
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Sam OBrien

Founder, Kayaking & Paddle Boarding Expert

Sam is the founder and editor of WaterSportsWhiz. With over 20 years of experience across various water sports, he provides trusted reviews and expert advice to help others pursue their passion for getting out on the water. When not working, you can find him kayaking, paddle boarding, or planning his next water-based adventure with family and friends.

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Nessa Hopkins

ACA-Certified Kayaking Instructor

Vanessa is a certified kayaking instructor, has taught over 500 people how to kayak, and is a senior member of the American Canoe Association. By combining her deep understanding of the sport and a background in journalism, she offers a wealth of experience and expertise to our growing water sports community, promising to educate and inspire paddlers of all levels.

I’m sure you’ve heard it’s a great form of exercise – but how many calories does paddle boarding burn, exactly? 

Well, on average, an hour of recreational stand-up paddle boarding can help you burn between 250 and 450 calories. 

Of course, the exact number might vary based on your age, gender, weight, body composition, and the intensity of your sessions. But if the countless hours I’ve spent on the water have taught me anything, it’s that paddle boarding can be an effective calorie burner, aiding in weight loss and improving overall fitness.

This article will break down everything you need to know about the calorie-burning potential of paddle boarding – from the formula used to calculate how many calories you’ll burn to the factors that influence your results. Plus, I’ll share a few tips on boosting your burn rate! 

Key Takeaways

  • Metabolic Equivalent of a Task (MET): The rate at which the body burns energy, defined as the working metabolic rate in relation to the resting metabolic rate. 
  • Paddle boarding MET value: Paddle boarding at a moderate pace has a MET value of 6, meaning you burn six times more calories than when you’re resting.
  • What influences calories burned? Age, gender, weight, duration, and pace all play a role in how many calories you burn while paddle boarding.
  • Calculating calories burned: You can calculate calories burned during an activity using this formula: ((MET x weight in kilograms) x 3.5 / 200) x (duration in minutes).
  • How to burn more calories: Use proper technique and increase the intensity by adding extra weight and paddling faster or in more challenging conditions.

Calories Burned Based On The Type Of Paddle Boarding

Woman performing sup yoga - energetic yoga flow

The amount of calories burned will vary based on the specific type of paddle boarding you engage in. From recreational paddling, fishing, and SUP yoga to SUP touring, surfing, and SUP racing, you can burn as little as 150 – or as much as 1125 – calories per hour! 

Here are the estimates of calories burned per hour for different types of paddle boarding, based on average weight for male (200 pounds) and female (170 pounds) paddlers: 

Recreational Paddle Boarding 

An hour of recreational paddle boarding – on calm waters and at a relatively slow, leisurely pace – can help you burn between 250 and 450 calories. That’s about twice the calories you’d burn during a moderate-paced walk and the same as the average gym session! 

SUP Surfing 

The effort required to catch and ride waves, combined with continuous paddling and maintaining balance, significantly boosts your calorie burn. You can expect to burn between 625 and 735 calories per hour of SUP surfing. 

EPIC DAY IN GRAN CANARIA 2023 - SUP SURFING

SUP Yoga 

SUP yoga is a low-impact activity that focuses on balance, core strength, and flexibility. It’s not as intense as other forms of paddle boarding, but an hour-long SUP yoga session can still burn between 350 and 500 calories

SUP Touring 

SUP MEN Technical Final 2022 ISA World StandUp Paddle Championship - Shuri Araki Gold 🥇

Long-distance paddle boarding burns roughly 550 to 650 calories per hour. Maintaining a consistent, moderate pace over longer periods means you will burn more energy compared to recreational paddle boarding, making it a great way to build endurance – although it won’t be as intense as SUP surfing. 

SUP Racing 

SUP racing is a high-intensity form of paddle boarding – a combination of the sustained pace of touring and the intensity of SUP surfing – which significantly increases the amount of calories burned. Variables like stroke intensity, speed, distance, and water conditions can all affect your calorie burn, but on average, you could burn between 715 and 1125 calories per hour paddle board racing – twice as much as recreational paddling. 

SUP Fishing 

SUP fishing can burn between 150 and 450 calories per hour. Casting, reeling in fish, and maintaining balance all contribute to the calorie burn, but overall, fishing is relatively “static” – so how much you’ll burn mostly depends on the effort that goes into paddling to and from your fishing spot. 

What Affects How Many Calories You Burn? 

Calories Burned Paddle Boarding

Your metabolism, age, gender, weight, body composition, and how active you are can all affect how many calories you burn on a daily basis. 

Not everyone expends energy at the same rate – and when it comes to paddle boarding, how many calories you’ll burn generally depends 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 ten years ago, that’s why. Your body is no longer burning calories at the same rate as it did when you were younger. 
  • SexMen tend to burn more calories – even at rest – than women. If you compare a man and a 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 – 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 burn 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 – The more you move, the more energy you’ll burn. A one-hour paddle boarding session will burn more calories than a 15-minute one – that’s just simple math. 

How To Calculate Calories Burned While Paddle Boarding

A Women Calculating the Calories she Burnt While Paddle Boarding 

The amount of calories burned depends on a range of factors – from your weight to the duration and intensity of your paddling sessions. You can calculate how many calories you’ll burn while paddle boarding using a simple math equation, though – and I’ll show you how. 

What Is MET? 

MET, short for Metabolic Equivalent of a Task, is the ratio of an individual’s working metabolic rate in relation to their BMR (Resting Metabolic Rate). In essence, it’s a way to objectively measure the intensity of an exercise and other activities. 

One MET would be the energy you use while being at rest – otherwise known as your resting or basal metabolic rate. 

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 more calories compared to being at rest. 

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
MET Values for Paddle Boarding by Activity Intensity Level

The Formula For Calculating Calories Burned 

Here’s the formula for calculating calories burned paddle boarding: 

Calories Burned = ((MET x Body Weight (kg) x 3.5) / 200) x (Duration in minutes) 

Here’s an example that shows the formula in action: 

Let’s say you weigh 154 pounds (70 kilograms), and you plan on paddle boarding for 1.5 hours at a moderate pace, so the MET value for paddle boarding is 6.

  • Step 1: Convert the body weight from pounds to kilograms if needed. 
  • Step 2: Multiply the MET value by the body weight and 3.5, then divide the total by 200. That gives you the calories burned per minute: Calories Burned per Minute: (6 x 70 kg x 3.5) / 200 = 7.35
  • Step 3: Multiply this number by the duration (in minutes): Calories Burned: 7.35 x 90 minutes
  • Step 4: Calculate the result: Calories Burned = 661.5 calories

So, in this example, paddle boarding for 1.5 hours at a moderate pace would burn approximately 661.5 calories. 

Calories Burned Paddle Boarding Compared To Other Activities 

Here’s an overview of how many calories paddle boarding burns per hour compared to other forms of exercise – such as aerobics, running, cycling, and swimming. 

I’d like to remind you that these are just rough estimates; they shouldn’t be taken at face value. All above-mentioned factors – your age, weight, body composition, and the intensity of the workout – all contribute to the number of calories you burn. 

Paddler Weight
Activity 160lb (72kg) 200lb (90kg) 240lb (108kg)
Aerobics – Low impact 365 455 545
Biking <10 mph 292 364 436
Boxing 844 981 1117
Fishing 211 245 279
Kayaking 438 548 658
Running 606 755 905
Swimming 423 528 632
Tennis 563 654 745
Walking 204 255 305
Yoga 183 228 273
Comparison of Calories Burned in One Hour Across Various Activities

How To Burn More Calories Paddle Boarding?

Surf Paddle Boarding - The Best Cross Training Workout to Burn Calories

If you’re wondering how to burn more calories paddle boarding, your main focus should be on proper posture and technique. Then, you can try increasing the intensity in other ways – like upping your speed, paddling in more challenging waters, adding weight to the SUP, or decreasing your iSUP’s pressure slightly below the recommended PSI. 

Use Correct Paddling Technique 

Your paddling technique matters – not just in terms of preventing injuries and figuring out how to maintain balance on your SUP, but ensuring that you fully engage your body and maximize calorie burn, too. Using the right muscles, engaging your core, and maintaining proper posture with each stroke – instead of relying solely on your hands – ensures you get the most out of your paddling session. 

Stand Up Paddleboard Stance and Body Positioning

Here are some things to keep in mind: 

  • Keep your back straight and your head up, with eyes on the horizon 
  • Don’t lock your knees; keep them slightly bent and flexible 
  • Hold the paddle at a more vertical angle as it hits the water 
  • Use your legs, core, and back muscles to transfer your weight into each stroke, ensuring the blade goes deeper into the water 

Paddle Faster 

Upping the intensity of your paddle boarding sessions is bound to get your heart rate up – and in turn the number of calories burned.. 

Remember that the average time it takes to paddle board 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 

Hitting more challenging waters – paddle boarding upstream or in windy conditions – can help you burn up to 30% more calories

You’re forced to work harder – not just on paddling but on maintaining your balance, too. Plus, you can’t afford to take a break whenever you feel like it; you’ll have no choice but to keep up with whatever the waters may throw your way. 

Add Weight To Your Paddle Board 

The extra weight creates more resistance and drag, which means more effort – and more effort means more calories burned. Obviously, you don’t want to add too much weight at once; start light, then gradually add more as your strength improves. 

Top Tip

You can put on a weighted vest, although I personally find it a bit uncomfortable with a PFD on top. So, I suggest using a couple of strategically placed sandbags instead.

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 SUPs have a pressure level suggested by the manufacturer – usually between 10 and 20 PSI, depending on the model. You generally want to stick to these guidelines; it makes the board harder, more efficient, and more stable. However, 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; 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. 

How Many Calories Do You Burn Paddle Boarding: Summary

What is a Calorie

Paddle boarding helps improve your strength, balance, and endurance – and you can expect to burn anywhere between 250 and 450 calories per hour of recreational paddling. Here are the estimates for other types of paddle boarding: 

  • SUP surfing: 625-735 calories 
  • SUP yoga: 350-500 calories 
  • SUP touring: 550-650 calories 
  • SUP racing: 715-1125 calories 
  • SUP fishing: 150-450 calories 

Of course, 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! 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is paddle boarding cardio?

Yes, stand up paddle boarding counts as cardio. It’s a great all-around, low-impact workout, but when done at the right intensity – at a moderate pace that gets your heart rate up – it provides a combination of strength and cardiovascular training. Paddle boarding will engage the most important muscle in your body – your heart – and improve your cardiovascular health and endurance, in addition to being a great way to burn a lot of calories in a short space of time.


Is paddle boarding good for weight loss?

Yes, paddle boarding is good for weight loss as it’s a great way to burn calories. However, it’s best not to rely on exercise alone. You should try to create – and maintain – a daily 500-calorie deficit through a combination of diet and exercise if you want to lose weight paddle boarding.


Is stand-up paddle boarding a good workout?

Yes, paddle boarding is an excellent complete-body workout. It actually engages several muscle groups – including arm muscles (the triceps and biceps), shoulder muscles (the deltoids and the rotator cuff muscles), back muscles (the lats, rhomboid muscles, and trapezius muscles), leg muscles (lower and upper calf, abductors, hamstrings, and quads), glutes, and core muscles. Besides targeting different muscles, paddle boarding also improves your cardiovascular health, strength, endurance, balance, and core stability. Additionally, it offers significant emotional health benefits, such as reducing stress and enhancing overall mental well-being. Plus, it’s a low-impact, inclusive activity – suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels.


Does paddle boarding burn more calories than kayaking?

No, paddle boarding doesn’t burn more calories than kayaking. You’ll burn between 250 and 450 calories per hour of paddle boarding. Kayaking, on the other hand, helps you burn up to 550 calories per hour on average, so it has a slight advantage in this department.


Photo of author

Sam OBrien

Sam is the founder and editor of WaterSportsWhiz. With over 20 years of experience across various water sports, he provides trusted reviews and expert advice to help others pursue their passion for getting out on the water. When not working, you can find him kayaking, paddle boarding, or planning his next water-based adventure with family and friends.

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