Stand Up Paddling for Fun & Fitness

Copyright Shane Gross

Stand up paddling, the craze that’s topping the charts for new sports to try, is in full swing at the brimming Boulder Reservoir.

“Summer is finally here and we wanted a fun summer thing to do,” says Katie Fitzpatrick, CU-Boulder Leeds School of Business student out paddleboarding with friends this week. Though not her first time, she noted “it’s pretty easy to do and when the wind comes up, it’s fun to crash through the waves.”

SUP definitely fits the ‘summer fun’ bill. You can get out on the water quickly and not even get wet – unless your balance bails out. Relatively simple for newbies and easy on the joints, all ages can hop on board.

Rocky Mountain Paddleboards is putting on Paddle the Rockies race and events this summer. Visit Photo courtesy Rocky Mountain Paddleboards.

Boulder’s Favorite Trifecta

Thought of as ‘zen’ relaxation by many, the sport provides benefits that top the lists of many locals: fun, fitness and communing with nature.

The ease of stepping into this serene sport is likely one reason that “stand up paddling had the highest number of new participants in the past year,” according to the 2013 Outdoor Foundation Recreation Report, sponsored by Boulder-based Outdoor Industry Association®.

According to the OIA’s 2014 report, for outdoor participants ages 6 and over, the top reasons people get outside are:

  • Get exercise – 72%
  • Be with family/friends – 54%
  • Keep physically fit – 53%
  • Be close to nature – 48%
  • Get away from usual demands of life – 46%

Top health benefits of SUP include:*

  • Balance: Though relatively stable, this board on water moves a lot – both large movements and small continuous movements. Just like incorporating balance boards, discs, pods, pads, and rockers into your dry land training or doing the stork yoga pose, standing on a floating paddleboard activates the small and large muscles the maintain balance.
  • Full body workout: SUP works the whole body. Arms, back, shoulders and abs work against water friction to propel the board forward. Leg, core, back and abdominal muscles adjust constantly to stabilize your center of gravity and maintain balance.  
  • Reduces stress: Water is naturally calming, being outdoors improves mental health and attitude, and exercise helps reduce stress. Add the soothing sounds of peacefully gliding through water and the repetitive rhythm of your stroke, and stress melts away.
  • Cardio workout: The level of cardio workout depends on how fast you travel and for how long. Racing friends or maintaining an aggressive pace can elevate your heart rate. According to, stand up paddling can help you avoid heart attacks and strokes.

Paddle the Rockies Race

New this year, Rocky Mountain Paddleboards is offering a series of events at Union Reservoir in Longmont featuring:

  • One Mile Fun Race
  • Four Mile Elite Race
  • Free Skills Clinic
  • Free SUP Yoga Classes

Upcoming dates are July 12 and September 30. For more information visit Paddle the Rockies.

So Go

Get out and get paddling! Stand up paddleboards are available for rent at the Boulder Reservoir:

Boulder Parks and Recreation

Rocky Mountain Paddleboards



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