SUP Fitness – How many calories does paddle boarding burn?

Isle Calorie Burn Infographic

Is Paddle Boarding a good workout?

People with all body shapes, sizes and ages are engaging in paddle boarding as a fun fitness activity for a full body workout. SUPing can be a low impact or high impact exercise depending on your intensity using a combination of balance, strength, core and endurance. With so many ways to paddle board from racing, surfing, yoga, touring, and recreational we wanted to get some answers into how many calories are burned and you may be surprised at what we found.

“Balance, strength, core and endurance are all exercised when paddle boarding.” 

isle phantom classic and touring

Calories Burned Calculator

There are many ways to measure the amount of calories burned but the formula we used was based off the subjects weight, age, heart rate and amount of time participating in the specific activity. Of course the measure of calories a person will burn depend on how aggressive you are in the exercise plus men typically burn more calories than women. Below are the most common categories and the respective Calorie Burn Estimates for our subject doing 1 hour of a specific type of paddling.

glider aw fiesta touring around

*Estimates are based on an average of three people of different sizes (165-200lbs) & 1 hour of paddling

Calories Burned SUP Surfing

isle surfing sup

One category of paddle boarding is paddle board surfing. Surfers call it some of the best cross training you can do to improve your surfing. Of course the bigger and rougher the waves, the harder you work which translates to more calories burned. For our study we surfed the Coronado Shores on a typical chest to head high day with light winds. After an hour of Paddle Surfing at an intensive pace catching waves every couple of minutes we gathered the data and discovered that you can burn 623-735 Calories paddle surfing in an hour and get an intense full body workout. Paddle surf in consistent waves daily and you can cancel your Gym membership.

“Paddle boarding is the best crossing training you can do to improve your surfing.”

Isle SUP Surfing

Calories Burned SUP Racing

Racing might be the highest intensity category of paddle boarding where there is no slowing down and your heart rate and cardiovascular are at full throttle. Your calorie burn can vary greatly depending on stroke intensity, stroke form, wind speed, and water conditions. For our particular experiment we raced the Dana Ocean Challenge which was a 5 mile sup race and found that you can burn on average 713-1,125 calories in just under an hour of high intensity racing.

To put in perspective the top finisher in our 12’6 class did the 5 miles in around 48 minutes and we finished up at around 55 minutes. Needless to say he was at the highest intensity the entire race and his calorie burn was more significant. Being an open ocean race with side breeze and cross swell you get an added workout just trying to stabilize the board than you would find on a calm flat water course in a bay or lake clearly adding to the calorie burn.

“When Paddle Board Racing at a high intensity your heart rate and cardiovascular are at full throttle.”

isle races bop 2014

Calories Burned SUP Touring

Isle Crew paddling in Coronado

SUP Touring entails paddling for a long distance at a moderate pace without stopping in-between. We did an hour of touring in Glorietta Bay with an average speed of 3 mph and burned an average 615-708 calories. Its also very relaxing to get out on the water with friends and cruise the flatwater after a long day at the office and burn some calories along the way.

captain kirk paddle boarding Isle SUP

Calories Burned SUP Yoga

Standup paddle boarding can be calming and meditative but also exhilarating and an intense workout for the mind, body and spirit. Our friend Helen at San Diego Paddle Yoga practiced a vinyasa power SUP Yoga sequence which lasted about an hour. With an energetic yoga flow you can burn anywhere between 416-540 calories in an hour.

SUP Yoga head stand

“SUP Yoga offers an intense workout for the mind, body and spirit with an increased intensity which outperforms land yoga.”

Calories Burned Recreational Paddling

The most common type of standup paddle boarding is recreational use which is an easy paddle with calm water, light winds at a slow walking type pace. At a typical casual pace, you’ll burn about twice the calories you’d burn on a moderate paced walk (2.5 mph). There are a ton of spots in San Diego to leisurely paddle but we went to Glorietta Bay for a nice sweep. You can burn 305-430 calories leisurely paddling in an hour.


“At a typical casual paddling pace, you’ll burn about twice the calories you’d burn on a moderate paced walk.”

*Now use these numbers as a base rule of thumb and throw in some variables like choppy water, paddling into a headwind and riding waves on your paddle board and you could add 100’s more Calories burned per hour to the above estimates.

Paddle Boarding Compared To Other Sports:

•Surfing: 412 calories per hour
• Biking: 483 calories per hour
• Running: 650 calories per hour
• Swimming: 840 calories per hour

Stand Up Paddle Board Calorie Burn Infographic

Isle Calorie Burn Infographic

As you’ve seen SUPing can burn a lot of calories compared to other sports and will also build good muscle. The main muscle groups that are being activated during a paddle are your mid back muscles (latissimus Dorsi), Shoulders (deltoids), Arms (triceps & biceps) and abs. Paddle Boarding is an all-body workout which has more than just the physical rewards, it can also restore your balance and calms your spirit. At the end of the day getting out on the paddle board can be a walk in the park or a high intensity full body workout. Either way a day on the water paddle boarding beats the gym anytime, so what are you waiting for – Shop our selection of Paddle Boards and start dropping those calories!

Austin Cox for Isle Surf and SUPAbout the Author -is the Marketing Director Isle Surf & SUP I have a passion for surfing, paddling and the ocean. I grew up surfing the chilly waters of Northern California and recently made the move to beautiful San Diego. Reach out to me if you have any questions or ideas you want to talk about.

SUP Fitness – How many calories does paddle boarding burn?

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