As an island nation we’re always finding new ways to be on the water; exploring our extensive coastline or navigating the 2000+ miles of British inland waterways. Perhaps you’ve seen some stand-up paddleboarders float by recently, and now you're wondering what all the fuss is about...
As well as being a novel new watersport to try on holiday, paddleboarding is fast becoming a regular pastime for a growing community across the UK; with wide-ranging physical and mental health benefits.
One of the things I love most is sport’s low-impact and total-body workout. The trick is to use your core and back more than your arms, and just by being on a less stable surface you use different muscles without even noticing. You set your own goals and the barrier to entry is incredibly low - complete beginners can be up and paddling in no time at all. Being a low impact form of exercise, every paddler can adjust their exertion level accordingly.
As well as providing an enjoyable and picturesque physical workout, anyone who paddleboards regularly will tell you how good it is for your mental health. Without diving into cliches about ‘tranquil turquoise waters’ and ‘floating away from your troubles’, you can imagine how time on the water is good for the mind and soul. Time to slow down, focus on one repetitive action, be outdoors, and appreciate the things around you.
We’ve all heard the research about the necessity of spending time in the natural world, and particularly about being near water. The recently coined ‘Blue Therapy’ movement includes specific challenges such as‘100 Days of Blue’ which involves getting on, in, near or under the water every day for 100 days.
Some people like to paddle and chat, whilst some just enjoy quiet exercise in the company of others. Whoever you are, you’re sure to be welcomed at the door. Belonging to some kind of group or ‘tribe’ is fundamental for humans’ positive wellbeing, and even if there isn’t a dedicated paddleboard club in your area then it’s possible to build ocean-loving connections online, at competitions, or at festivals and events.
As a frequent relocator whose biggest fear is having nothing to do and no-one to do it with, joining a paddleboard club has made my move to a new area so much more enjoyable. I often come up with my best ideas whilst gliding over rock pools, and have the biggest laughs of my day after falling in learning step-back turns. As adults we’re often hesitant to try new things, but the physical and mental rewards of getting out on the water are more than worth it for a few wobbles and splashes, I think.