SUP The Perfect Social Distancing Sport

Not gonna lie … the first time I tried stand up paddleboarding I was like, “ummm yea, OK, whatever, this is gonna be sooooo easy.” I mean we’ve all seen the lovely social media photos people post. Am I right? How hard can it really be?

SUP kicked my ass

As it turns out, it’s a bit harder than one would think. (Except for Gastro Gabe, that is. He seems to have the whole thing down. Hell, I dunno. Maybe it’s his forearms. I mean have you seen them?) Mostly because I think I was more focused on not falling than the actual boarding. Regardless, it’s a super fun thing to do and it is the perfect sport for social distancing so while the weather’s still cooperating in some parts of the country, why not get out and give it a try. Here’s what you need to know. NOTE: I wrote this piece for North Carolina Living magazine, read it in its entirety online and discover a few hip places to get your SUP on in the region.

According to the Outdoor Industry Association, the top reasons people participate in outdoor sports are: to get exercise and stay physically fit, to be with family and friends, and to observe scenic beauty and be close to nature. All things considered, it’s no wonder that here in the U.S., standup paddle boarding is quickly becoming the most popular outdoor activity for first-time participants. 

The physicality Standup paddle boarding is a fairly easy sport that most anyone—young and old, novice and expert, extremely fit and those just getting off the couch—can enjoy. It can be relaxing and or taxing depending on what you put into it. SUP uses just about every part of your body from arms, neck and shoulders to legs and core muscles for balance. And it’s low impact making it the perfect choice for people recovering from an injury or those with joint issues. And if you stay on the water long enough, it’s great for boosting endurance. But, while all these things are great, the sport isn’t a great cardio workout. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, even at top speed, the most experienced paddlers don’t get their average heart rate up high enough to be considered a true cardio sport. Regardless, it’s a great way to exercise and enjoy the outdoors either solo, or with friends. 

Once used more as a form of transportation—it’s how Hawaiians used to travel from island to island—than a leisure apparatus, SUP has become a great way to spend an afternoon chilling with friends while being active at the same time. Bonus, because you’re already a good six feet away from your companions, it’s the perfect warm-weather activity for 2020.

And then there’s nature Everyone wants to star in their own Instagram-worthy SUP photo but truth be known, snapping the perfect photo while paddling isn’t easy. So ditch the iPhone and hone in on what’s going on around you. Depending on where you board, you might see everything from turtles to waterfalls. Or people like me doing their best to try and snap that “perfect” social media post : ) READ MORE North Carolina Living magazine.

On Being a Flexitarian

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