Paddleboarding: What's SUP?

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Called Hoe He'e Nalu by the ancient Hawaiians, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is a blast...

Called Hoe He'e Nalu by the ancient Hawaiians, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is a blast for the whole family, and a fantastic way to stay in shape.

Why paddleboarding is good for you:

  • SUP is a great cardio workout and fat burner. Women can burn up to 700 calories and men up to 1000 calories per hour.
  • It activates your core and abdominal muscles and tones your lower back, shoulders, biceps and legs while you paddle.
  • Your core and legs, in particular, contribute to balance, so paddleboarding can help give you better balance on and off the water.
  • Most beginners are able to stand up and paddle in the first session and progress to longer distance paddling, which requires more stamina and balance, within a few weeks. Paddleboarding is generally done on calm waters, so it is easier to master than other water sports such as wakeboarding and surfing.

Choosing a board and equipment:

  1. A longer board is ideal for beginners and a shorter board is better to use for advanced surfing. Wider boards are generally more stable while narrow boards are usually faster.
  2. Choose a paddleboard with enough buoyancy to float you. To achieve adequate board volume choose a thick, wide paddleboard at least 7 to 10 inches taller than you.
  3. Wear a personal flotation device (PFD). Life jackets like those used by water skiers are compact and won't interfere with paddling. A thin wet suit or rash guard may be appropriate underclothing.
  4. Some community pools offer training and practice sessions with lifeguards, but you should be at least a mildly competent swimmer before attempting SUP in open-water and ALWAYS go with a swim buddy!

Posture and paddling tips:

  1. Start on your knees in shallow, calm water. Try to balance while holding the paddle in a firm, yet relaxed grip.
  2. As you stand from a kneeling position, place your feet about shoulder width apart with toes pointing forward.
  3. Keep your legs slightly flexed at the knee, shoulders back, chin up and look forward.
  4. Place hands shoulder width apart on the paddle. Top hand: always on the inside of the paddle. Bottom hand: outside and close to the hip.
  5. Keep the concave side of the paddle facing you. Keep the paddle handle perpendicular with the water during strokes.
  6. Dip the paddle blade about a foot in front of you while shifting your weight slightly to the same side you are paddling. With your bottom arm, pull the paddle back (along the side of the board to just past your heels) while pushing forward with your top arm. Alternate hand positions when you switch paddling sides.
  7. For slow turns, paddle in wide sweeping arcs farther from the side of the board. For faster turns, shift your weight back over the paddle-side leg and drag the paddle near the back of the board.

As always, when starting any new activity, get a physical checkup with your Atlanta doctor to make sure you're ready to paddle your way to a fun time.

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