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  • Writer's pictureDrew Darcy

Paddle Your Way To Fitness

Article written by Jennifer Lewis.

Paddle Your Way To Fitness

We have some of the world’s most beautiful scenery and wildlife right on our doorstops here in Hawaii. We are blessed to live here with all the opportunities it offers us to get out and enjoy the great outdoors and the many choices it provides us for exercising and staying fit.

Our West Hawaii coastline is stunning, and we have looked at some of the great walks that are available along its shores. Now we’re going to take it one step further and venture out on to the water. The world’s fastest growing water sport is stand up paddleboarding, or SUP, and there is no greater place in the world to do it than Hawaii. Not only do we have some beautiful coastal waters to make the most of, but the sport also originated in Hawaii. The Hawaiian term Ku Hoe He’e Nalu; to stand, to paddle, to surf a wave is at the sport’s heart.

Getting fit and healthy

SUP is a fantastic form of exercise allowing you to make the most of the outdoors and getting fit at the same time. Professional surfers use it to help them stay in peak condition while the surf is flat. That gives you some idea of how much of a great workout it can be!

The beauty of SUP is that it is a form of exercise that most people can master within half an hour, unlike the closely related sport of surfing which can take years of dedication to grasp even the basics. The greater length and width of the board means it is relatively easy to stand on. After a few minutes spent on land learning the basics of how and where to stand you will be ready to hit the water to practice.

A full body workout

Once out on the water and paddling you will be giving yourself a core and cardiovascular workout. The level of the workout is determined by how hard and the speed at which you paddle, as well as a few natural factors such as wind, waves and currents. Balancing on the board engages all your core muscles, whilst paddling uses your upper body muscles.

SUP has a great advantage over training in the gym. Training on unbalanced surfaces, such as on a board on the sea, is great for working your core stomach and lower back muscles. It also teaches your muscles to work in a coordinated way, working in pairs, which is beneficial for your body in other sports as well as everyday activities. Resistance training in a gym, on the other hand, trains muscles to work in isolation in a stable environment, which is fairly useless in most real life situations and sports.

The coordinated firing of neural messages from your brain to get your muscles to contract exactly the right amount at the right time, while the opposing muscles relax the correct amount is the effect of body memory. In this respect SUP can be very rewarding as your body learns the basics very quickly. A sport which initially feels difficult will be mastered by most people within half an hour. A very rewarding feeling!

As well as being enjoyable, it is a great fat burning form of exercise. If you are wanting to lose weight, combining a regular paddleboard work-out with a healthy diet is a great way of achieving your goals. You will notice a difference in your body, as well as your energy levels, in a matter of days. You do need to keep your energy levels up while paddleboarding though as you will be expending a lot of energy. A diet that is high in proteins and contains saturated fatty acids combined with high levels of exercise will result in loss of body fat while allowing you to tone up and increase your muscle content. Make sure you drink plenty of water before and after paddleboarding, especially if doing it in hot weather. It can be thirsty work and it is not easy to carry water with you out on the board.

One of the latest SUP trends is SUP yoga. Many people describe a feeling of peace when out on the water, so what better place to do yoga than out on a paddleboard with a powerful connection to the outdoors.

A good cause

As well as being a great form of exercise, SUP in Hawaii has also been raising awareness of very worthy causes. Saturday 9 February saw the first ever SUP race benefiting skin cancer awareness. The short course race was designed to encourage paddleboarders of all levels to get involved and support the work that the University of Hawaii Cancer Center does. All the proceeds from the event went to the UHCC, who will be having their grand opening in late February. Free cancer screenings were given to all at the finish line. Keep an eye out for more SUP events coming up as they can be a really great way to socialize and meet other SUP fans.

Take in the sights

A unique benefit of SUP is that you are standing at full height so the views of the surrounding landscape as well as any wildlife are fantastic. Hawaii is rich in both and offers the ideal location for SUP. The Kahalu’u Beach Park is an ideal site with the protective rock wall surrounding the bay from the surf, creating gentle conditions, and boards can be hired from the beach.

Give SUP a go and you’ll be making the most of our fantastic natural resources as well as getting fit.

Article written by Jennifer Lewis.

Original post by Sheila Colon.

Photo by Andrew Darcy. Paddle boarding with a manta ray in Keauhou Bay!


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