Sarah Kemp, health and wellbeing programme manager at AXA Health

Benefits of standup paddleboarding

Find your feelgood out on the water

19 January 2021

Mother and baby downward dog

Find your Feelgood Health

At AXA Health, we know that everyone’s journey to Feelgood Health is different. Discover more ways to boost your body and mind in a way that suits you on our hub.

Find your feelgood health

We know keeping active in one way or another is key to a healthy lifestyle and vital in helping you feel good, but this certainly doesn’t mean you have to join the gym or go for a run. Standup paddleboarding is a growing activity across the UK1 and comes with a whole host of benefits. 

As an activity, it requires a bit more planning than simply heading out for a walk, but if you’re able to get involved, standup paddleboarding is a great way to explore parts of nature you may never normally see and to try something new. Getting outdoors has huge benefits for our health, and it’s been shown that being in nature for just two hours a week is all it takes for it to have a positive impact on our mental and physical health. In particular, a deficiency in vitamin D, which we absorb from daylight, is common in the UK, so any time outdoors especially during the winter months to help boost our levels of this is great – though of course, don’t forget the sun cream!

Sarah Kemp, health and wellbeing programme manager at AXA Health, explains some of the key benefits that getting out on the water to go standup paddleboarding can have, both physically and mentally.

What are the benefits of standup paddleboarding?

  • Paddleboarding provides a full body workout. Sarah explains, “standup paddleboarding works many muscles at the same time. In order to propel through the water, the muscles of the upper limbs come into play. However, the muscles of the trunk, gluteals and lower leg are also having to work in synergy to keep upright and stable. Research   has shown that regular practice can build core stability and strength, aid aerobic fitness and positively benefit body composition. It’s also a low-impact exercise meaning it’s great for those who have to avoid heavy joint-loading activities.”3,4,5

  • Supports our mental health – not only are there the overall benefits that any form of physical activity, indoors or out, has on our mental health, but being out in nature is known to have hugely positive influences on our mind and its wellbeing. Reducing blood pressure and helping to lower our stress hormones are some of the fantastic benefits of exercising outdoors.6 Couple that with getting moving and we get all the positives of being active, as explained before.
  • Experience more of nature – along with nature’s benefits on our health and wellbeing, paddleboarding provides a great way to experience nature in a totally different way! By being on the water rather than walking, running or cycling on ground, you’ll be able to take it all in, right on the water. Sarah points out, “research has shown that naturally occurring shapes in nature such as leaves, water, flowers and clouds can have a calming effect on the mind, due to the repetitive patterns that they are made up of.”7 In fact, exercising in the great outdoors, whatever activity you’re doing, has a whole host of benefits.

  • It can be a social activity, too – while the actual activity of standup paddleboarding is really more of an individual activity, if you decide to join a club as well there are great opportunities to meet likeminded people. You’ll be able to get tips and advice from others who may have been doing standup paddleboarding for longer and you could even look to arrange day trips to explore further afield, once restrictions are lifted and it is safe to do so.

  • It’s something really different – standup paddleboarding isn’t the most common of activities but shaking up your routine by trying a new activity can just be really fun! It may not be something you put into your weekly routine but finding your feelgood is all about what you enjoy and making time for yourself.

Tips on getting started

As it’s growing in popularity, there are plenty of spots around the UK for paddleboarding, so it may be a case of doing a bit of online research to find out where’s nearby and what they offer. Maybe you could try out a class or experience day to see how you go and then make it a more regular thing; you might just stumble across something new you love!

We followed Lee on her Feelgood Health journey where she talked with AXA Health physiologist Lauren Davenport about the amazing benefits she gets from standup paddleboarding and how it’s helped her find an exercise she really loves, since a friend encouraged her to give it a try: “Standup paddleboarding has enabled me to carve out some me time in a really busy and stressful week…people might think it’s not for people of my age – I’m in my late 40’s – but it really is!”

“It’s quiet, it’s peaceful, and all your stress just disappears…if I’ve had a really stressful week I can just get on the board and just let all that stress go by taking in the nature around me.”

Lauren explains that “when we do exercise and physical activity, we release hormones that tell us how we feel, so when we exercise we get a rush of endorphins which make us feel happy and they also inhibit pain. There’s also serotonin and dopamine, and of course the happier we feel, the more likely we are to go out and do exercise and do physical activity, so it’s a really great cycle to get into.”

If you’re thinking of giving it a go, head over to the Feelgood Health hub to take a look at Lee’s experience with paddleboarding and how it has helped on her feelgood journey. We’ve also got a whole host of other resources, including a selection of content tailored to your Feelgood mindset, all to help you find your feelgood.

Further Reading

Benefits & tips for exercising outdoors | AXA Health

Nature and mental health benefits | AXA Health

Getting active your way | AXA Health

Health benefits of swimming | AXA Health 

Benefits of hiking | AXA Health 

Benefits of dance | AXA Health


1. Paddle boards 2020: Best inflatable stand up paddleboards UK (countryliving.com)

2. University of Exeter. "Two hours a week is key dose of nature for health and wellbeing." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 June 2019.

3. Schram B, Hing W, Climstein M (2017) The Long-Term Effects of Stand-up Paddle Boarding: A Case Study. Int J Sports Exerc Med 3:065. doi.org/10.23937/2469-5718/1510065 [Accessed 19/01/2021]

4. Schram, B. Stand up paddleboarding: An analysis of a new sport and recreational activity. A thesis submitted in total fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). Bond University Faculty of Health Science and Medicine [Accessed 19/01/2021]

5. Schram, B., Hing, W. & Climstein, M. The physiological, musculoskeletal and psychological effects of stand up paddle boarding. BMC Sports Sci Med Rehabil 8, 32 (2016). doi.org/10.1186/s13102-016-0057-6 [Accessed 19/01/2021]

6. Caoimhe Twohig-Bennett, C and Jones, A. The health benefits of the great outdoors: A systematic review and meta-analysis of greenspace exposure and health outcomes. Environmental Research. Vol 166 2018 Pages 628-637. doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2018.06.030. [Accessed 19/01/2021]

7. Lahart, I., Darcy, P., Gidlow, C and Calogiuri, G. The Effects of Green Exercise on Physical and Mental Wellbeing: A Systematic Review. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(8), 1352; doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16081352. [Accessed 19/01/2021]

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