Stand up paddleboarding, or SUP, is a fun fitness activity for the whole family.

Stand-Up Paddleboarding: The Hot New Sport

You see them on lakes, rivers, bays, even out on the ocean. And where you used to see one or two paddlers every once in awhile, now they’re out there everyday, sometimes in big groups. What is stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) and how did it become one of the fastest-growing outdoor fitness activities?

Stand-up paddleboarding or paddling goes back to the 1600s in Hawaii, and has roots in Africa as well. In recent years, it has taken off in the United States as an alternative to surfing that’s easier to learn for many people. In addition, SUP yoga (basically yoga on a paddleboard) has become popular among yoga enthusiasts.

8 Reasons SUP Is So Popular

1. It’s a great full-body workout. Arms, legs, shoulders, and core – you use almost every muscle in your body while paddleboarding.

2. It improves balance.  Staying upright on a floating board while stroking requires you to use shoulders, arms and legs while stabilizing your center of gravity.

3. It’s the best core workout ever. No sport works your core, back and abdominal muscles quite like stand-up paddling.

4. It’s a low-impact workout. Unlike many sports, SUP is unlikely to cause injury to joints and ligaments. In fact, paddleboarding is a great choice for runners and other athletes who are experiencing hip or knee problems or shin splints.

5. It’s fun. SUP is exciting like surfing but you’re not being tossed around in the waves. It’s a water sport but you don’t have to get wet if you don’t want to. And you can do SUP solo, in pairs, or in groups. These are just a few of the reasons people are embracing SUP.

6. It reduces stress. You’re out on the water alone with nature. What better stress-reducer coudl you ask for?

7. It’s easy to learn. One lesson or class is all it takes for most people to be up and paddling. And unlike surfing or snowboarding, this board sport isn’t rough and tumble or injury-prone.

It’s great for the whole family. Paddleboarding is fun and easy to learn at almost any age. Kids love it, adults love it, and it’s a great sport for older adults, too.

How Do I Get Started with SUP?

Classes in SUP and SUP yoga are available pretty much wherever you find a popular body of water. Most beginners rent paddleboards for awhile before purchasing their own. But when you’re ready to do so, REI has a great SUP gear guide.


Melanie Haiken writes about health, wellness and fitness for national magazines and websites. She specializes in discovering and reporting the latest research on diet, nutrition, fitness, weight loss and other health-related topics. Her award-winning stories have appeared in Fitness, Shape, Health, Forbes, and other respected magazines. She also contributes health stories to numerous Kaiser Permanente newsletters and other publications.