Recent studies find interesting results about SUP fitness

Two recent studies were commissioned by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) which looked to examine the health benefits of the increasingly popular sport of stand-up paddleboarding, and there were some interesting results.



Many people are taking up SUP to strengthen their core and increase cardiovascular benefits quickly. While both can be improved by the sport, it only occurs under certain conditions.

Scientists found that you need to incorporate vigorous twisting and “paddling with intent”, which are two things that come largely from experience and spending time on the water.

ACE’s Chief Science Officer, Cedric Bryant, has spoken about the result of the studies and noted the following:

“To get the comprehensive core benefit many people mention in reference to standup paddleboarding, you need to have relatively advanced form or technique, which only comes with practice. Without this high level of experience, you still get a good workout, you’re just not engaging the full suite of abdominal muscles.”

The studies

The first study was conducted at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse by Jeanne Nichols, Ph.D. and found that front ab muscles and muscles along the spine were stimulated effectively during SUP, even at lower intensities.

The same study also found that external obliques (muscles which run along the sides of the body) required the highest level of paddling intensity to activate and strengthen them. This is achieved with good paddling form that twists the torso with each paddle stroke.

The second commissioned study took place at the University of California, San Diego, this time under the leadership of Jeanne Nichols, Ph.D., monitored paddlers in both an indoor pool and out on the open water.

On open water, it was found that novice paddleboards didn’t reach the level of intensity needed to significantly improve their cardiorespiratory function, whilst the more experienced paddleboards did so easily.

What does it mean?

Essentially, the research found that it requires a lot of intent, focus and good technique to achieve the ultimate workout from SUP. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t get a decent workout and have fun whilst taking part in the sport, it just means you won’t get instant Men’s Health abs after one session. But we all knew that secretly, didn’t we?

The key is to practice more, get out on the water as often as you can and in time, you will be able to achieve the results you desire. The first step to doing this is to get a board of your own, so take a look at our range of stand up paddleboards for sale and start your own journey today!

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