Sitting in warm water isn't the only way to reduce stress. Participating in water sports can yield some of the same benefits as hot-tubbing. Consider what our guest blogger Rob Casey of Salmon Bay Paddle has to say about his beloved sport of standup paddle boarding.
When many think of standup paddle boarding, thoughts of anxiety often occur, such as “I don’t have good enough balance,” “will I fall?” and “I’m not in good enough physical shape to standup paddle board!”
According to guest blogger, Rob Casey, Founder of Salmon Bay Paddle in Seattle, these are common worries of people who feel that paddle boarding may not be for them. These anxieties are not surprising given how the media portrays paddle boarders as perfectly in-shape surfers, young paddlers in bikinis or dare devils dropping into huge waves or white-water rivers.
Age is not a factor in standup paddle boarding. Young kids love playing on the boards using them as floating platforms to jump off from. Folks over 60 are finding that with the right stability, the boards are providing another way to explore their local waterways. Older surfers find that standup paddle boards keep them surfing as they don’t have to jump up from their chest to catch a wave.
Unlike kayaking, standup paddle boarding provides people of any age easy access to the water on a stable floating platform with the option of standing, sitting, kneeling or laying in a prone position on the belly. Standing up, you get a great view of the marine life directly below your feet, as well as a distant view across the water.
Known for “strengthening your core,” standup paddle boarding can do that, plus add additional passive strengthening to your legs, feet and arms. Standup paddle boarding is similar to rowing or cross-country skiing in its full-body exercise benefits. Many feel they need to be in really good shape to paddle a standup paddle boarding, but in truth anyone of any standard physical condition can paddle. Once on the water, you choose the distance and intensity that’s right for you. TIP: to gain the benefits of a core workout, paddle with straightened arms that allows the torso, or core, to do the work.
Not every board is suited for every paddler, so choosing the right board will make a big difference in your experience on the water. Larger paddlers require a bigger, wider board for additional stability whereas a smaller paddler may not be able to carry a larger board. If you are nervous about stability, consider a larger board for your size until you gain your “sea legs,” then move back to the right size for your height and weight. TIP: inflatable boards allow for easier storage when deflated and being lightweight, are easier to carry than a fiberglass board. Most inflatables are just as stable as hard boards when inflated to the proper PSI.
Many try to standup paddle board on their own or rent a board without a lesson only to find they can’t get up. TIP: a lesson from a certified instructor will lead to greater confidence on the water and less frustration when learning to stand up. A great instructor will teach you various ways of standing, especially if you’re nervous, have creaky knees or have lost confidence from previous unsuccessful attempts.
Racing has also become a popular venue for standup paddle boarders. Races range from 1 mile to a few hundred yards. For many, racing isn’t about competition but rather about a great cardio workout, improving paddling skills or just for fun. Surfing, downwinding (surfing downwind on lakes or in saltwater) and river paddling are also great ways of staying in shape.
Paddling isn’t all about working out. Many prefer to paddle their boards to a tranquil location and enjoy the quiet of the water. Getting on your board after work and paddling a short distance off shore is a great way to relieve stress relief and rejuvenate your soul. In most cities, few people are on the water in the off seasons, providing a quick escape without fighting traffic or going to a crowded gym.
If you ever thought about giving paddle boarding a try, do it. Anyone can, and everyone will benefit from its physical and mental wellness benefits.