Make Fitness Fun. Try Stand Up Paddle Boarding as the Ultimate Exercise!

Father and Son doing a hand stand on Stand Up Paddle Boards in Currumbin

Do you ever feel that life is passing us by more and more quickly?

Do you feel so stuck in your head that you forget to make time for fun and play?

Do you think of exercise as being a chore, a burden or punishment that you have to do rather than enjoy doing?

My hope with this post is to inspire you to reframe your thinking about exercise and provide a suggestion on how you can transform exercise into play!

Importance of Play

It’s only during holidays that I can truly unplug myself from the never-ending to do-lists and unrelenting expectations and be in the moment. The call to play from my young 12 and 14-year-old is always there, unfortunately, when I’m stuck in the busyness of life and work I struggle to act on it.

Play can seem like a waste of time or distraction when there is so much to do and projects to complete.

I am very much in my head and rarely notice or listen to what my body needs and is calling for.. that exhale that comes with play.

Where time dissolves and you are in the moment. Vividly aware of the ball hurtling towards you and the adrenaline coursing through your veins as you dive to spike.

Play can stimulate all the chemicals in the pharmacy that makes up our bodies and make us feel alive. With play we can stretch, tone, burn calories and build muscle.

For me though, the ultimate benefit of play is connection and release of tension. It is healing and creates memories of laughter and fun that last a lifetime.

We often think we need a gym session or structured workout program, but play can be an incredibly valuable part of a holistic fitness regime.

My recent exploration into ikigai and the research into the centurions in the blue zones has made me realise how play is integral to our health and wellbeing.

A playful light heartedness can transform any task into one of play, from weeding in the gardening to cooking a meal. It’s the playful approach to which we attend to the activity and our conscious engagement that creates that spark of magic.

Play allows us to tap into a part of ourselves which we seldom do, our inner child. Through play a balloon can turn into a soccer ball, and a long string of washed up seaweed can turn into a skipping rope and transport us back to childhood.

My intention this holiday is to revel in my children’s relentless desire to play, their ability to shut off from all that is happening around them and be completely absorbed by the game. With no attachment to an end goal or outcome, just a deep desire to play and be playful.

How do you play?

My new favourite hobby or form or play is stand-up paddle boarding. We recently purchased two inflatable boards for the family and our goal was to get comfortable and confident on the waves this summer. It has honestly been one of the best investments we have made in terms of equipment. And trust me we have tried several from kids kayaks, inflatable boats, rings, roller skates, skate boards and scooters. I have to admit the last two have maintained strong usage but this is the first activity all four of us have really got into.

Our recent getaway included 5 days straight of Stand Up Paddle boarding and through the fun, laughs, falls, there were tranquil moments of floating in the the stunning open waters of our coast line where I had a moment to reflect on what a powerful form of play this activity truly was.

Stand-Up Paddle Boarding: Your Ultimate Full-Body Summer Workout

Let’s dive into why SUP is the ideal exercise to boost your cardio, build strength, enhance balance and agility, and why it shares similarities with interval training.

Cardiovascular Endurance: One of the standout benefits of stand-up paddle boarding is its cardiovascular advantages. Paddling through water engages large muscle groups, elevating your heart rate and promoting better cardiovascular health. Whether you’re cruising along calm waters or tackling challenging waves, SUP guarantees a heart-pounding workout that will leave you feeling energized and summer-ready. As you switch your intensity or pace you automatically use different muscles and the workout continues.

Strength Building: Beyond cardio, SUP offers an exceptional full-body strength workout. Each paddle stroke engages your core, back, arms, and shoulders. Maintaining balance on the board activates your leg muscles and lower back. Over time, you’ll notice improved muscle tone and strength, making you more resilient both on and off the board. I feel and see a noticeable difference in my muscle tone and size after just the 5 days on the boards. We were a little obsessed though and I loved the challenge of going into the waves and attempting to transition from kneeling to standing for longer periods.

Balance and Agility: SUP requires you to maintain balance on an unstable surface—the water. This constant balancing act works wonders for your core and stabilizer muscles, enhancing your overall balance and agility. You’ll develop better proprioception, helping you prevent injuries and improving your performance in other sports and daily activities. Considering that falls caused by lack of balance is one of the number one injuries we face as we get older, there is no better way in my humble opinion to start working on balance and agility at any age. We were paddling alongside children to senior citizens, it was inspiring and motivating to see so many people of all ages loving being out on the water engaging with nature, play and exercising.

Interval Training Parallels: Stand-up paddle boarding closely resembles interval training due to its dynamic nature. Just as you adjust your speed and intensity during intervals, your paddleboarding pace adapts to the ever-changing water conditions. When you encounter waves or tides, you must exert more effort, mimicking the intervals of high intensity in traditional interval training. This variability keeps your body guessing and maximizes your fitness gains. We transitioned between resting on our boards soaking up the sun to high energy sprints across the waves and against the tide, we paddled up the canals and through the rough waters taking turns with paddling and rest.

Suitable for All Ages: One of the standout features of SUP is its inclusivity. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or a beginner, SUP is accessible to all ages and fitness levels. It’s low-impact, reducing stress on your joints. Families can enjoy it together, ensuring everyone stays active and summer-ready. We love having the two boards as my wife and I can be on one board whilst our tweens are on the other, and we take turns with partnering and challenging each other. It is honestly such great fun to do as a family.

Closest Comparison to Rock Climbing: Surprisingly, SUP shares similarities with rock climbing. Both require you to engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously, focus on balance, and adapt to changing conditions. While rock climbing takes place on solid ground, SUP adds the challenge of water beneath your feet, creating a unique fusion of physical and mental exertion. My go-to hobby or play based exercise workout for winter is Rock Climbing but for summer my new favourite is definitely Stand Up Paddle Boarding.

So, if you’re looking for an all-encompassing summer-ready workout, stand-up paddle boarding is your answer. It offers a full-body workout that boosts cardio, builds strength, enhances balance, and agility. To make it even easier for you to get started I have saved you the trouble of doing the research we did before we invested in our SUPs.

Our SUP recommendation

The Tahwalhi Inflatable Stand-up Paddle Board was a stand out to us. It had great reviews, met all the key requirements we were told to look out for and the size was perfect for us. We chose inflatable as it allowed us to pack it away easily and it came with a pump and carry bag.

Keep an eye out for specials and you can grab your own for an awesome price. As of writing this post they are on special at BCF for only $299 down from $579. Check it out here Tahwalhi Inflatable Stand-up Paddle Board

Best places to SUP

We loved this blog post that guided us to the best places to SUP this holiday and were thriilled to find out that one of the number one spots on their list was Cotton Tree Beach which was literally where we stayed. There is a great campsite right on the water and some wonderful Air BNBs in the area. Our new favourite to stay at is Verve by They literally think of all the small things that make you feel at home whilst away, so you don’t need to!

I hope this has got you as excited about Play and given you some inspiration as to how you can incorporate play as one of your key pillars of fitness and wellbeing.

So grab a paddle and let the fun begin .

Get in touch if you have any questions or want to join in the fun of our exercise fitness classes here