The world’s fastest growing water sport may also be one of its healthiest.
Stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) is the hottest thing on the water right now and shows no signs of slowing down. Its health benefits have been touted by The Wall Street Journal, ABC News and legions of health bloggers around the world for several years now.
Experts claim the core body work out, balance and endurance elements of the sport are an unusual and powerful combination for all ages and ability levels. The health benefits are not confined to the realm of physical health however. How about SUP Yoga classes, meditation, or even onboard prayer?
For me, the serenity element is the most important part of paddleboarding. As an enthusiastic novice, I can attest to the multi-dimensional benefit package that comes with the sport. I do love the exercise element and I’d sure rather be out on the water than in a gym. Summer mornings usually give us cool temperatures and a pretty calm gulf or bay. I often go out to Indian Rocks Beach at first light, paddle straight out, sit down on my board... And pray. Sunlight and spiritual light intensify together.
I’ve found prayer to be a healthy practice wherever I am. The serenity I find through prayer on the water can be a great healer. Fears diminish, clarity emerges and healthy reasoning begins to replace negative emotions. Energy builds. It’s not uncommon to be joined by a feeding dolphin or two or sometimes even a manatee family—great reminders of the natural beauty that surrounds us here, but sometimes seems so far away.
When I’ve let the serenity sink in far enough, I do speed runs parallel to the shore, have a swim to cool off and I’m done.
At the end of an early morning SUP session that includes stillness and prayer, a good physical workout, and the chance to get up close to some amazing sea life, my day’s already way better than it would have been otherwise. This goes beyond just a physical workout and it seems like way more than a sport to me. I’m just getting started, but I’m already hooked.
The SUP community in the Clearwater area is also a great group of people. Watersports West, where my wife and I bought our boards, offers free demos from 8 to 10 most Saturday mornings in front of the Clearwater Community Sailing Center on Sand Key. Watersports West owner, Steve LeVine, and his staff are there, offering tips and suggestions about different boards and equipment. This is the right way to find the right board and Steve has a lifetime of watersports knowledge. He does it all and sells it all.
Stand-up paddle boarding offers a well-balanced physical workout. But even more fundamentally, it offers a serene platform for metaphysics, which, to me, has always been fundamental to physical health. Try it and see for yourself.