Have you tried this? Stand up paddleboarding

Stand up paddleboarding offers low-impact, total body exercise

If you have visited Lady Bird Lake in Austin recently, you have likely seen them – stand up paddleboards. The activity, sometimes called SUP, has gained popularity in Central Texas, and it’s a great way to stay fit.

Why stand up paddleboarding?

Stand up paddleboarding has a lot of benefits. It’s easy to get started with, the learning curve is low, and it offers a total body workout.

According to Men’s Health, it’s equivalent to running six miles in an hour. It’s also a very moderate to low impact exercise, but that does not mean you won’t get a good workout.

“It gets your heart rate up, and it’s strength building,” said Kimberly Smith, a health educator for ADC’s Weight Loss & Health Risk Management program. “This is a good alternative for folks who can’t run or do high-impact exercise.”

It does take some balance, but it works on your balance as well.

“If you have a hard time with balance, then stand up paddleboarding is a great thing for you to do because it will help build that balance,” Smith said.

How to get started

Stand up paddleboarding can be done on rivers, lakes, and even on the coast. That means the Austin area is an ideal place for the activity because of the area’s easy access to lakes. Many centers that rent kayaks and canoes on Lady Bird Lake also rent paddle boards.

Rentals cost around $20 per hour for a board, life jacket and paddle.

Other than renting your paddleboard, you need just a few other things.

“You want to wear something that you don’t mind getting wet in,” said Smith. “You could wear shorts that are quick-dry or you could just wear a bathing suit.”

You also might want to bring water shoes to protect your feet in case you get in the water, sunscreen and a pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes against glare from the water.

“Any of the staff where you rent boards from will help you get on the board,” Smith said. “You’ll use a leash on your ankle to help keep the board from slipping away from you.”

Paddleboarding techniques

two people on stand up paddle boards

Once your board is in the water, Smith says there are just a few steps to learn:

  1. Kneel on the board
  2. Paddle away from dock
  3. Slowly stand up on the board, finding balance with your feet.

Your feet should be hip-width distance apart, parallel centered between the sides of the board.

Try not to hunch over or stand with your knees locked. It’s much easier to balance if your shoulders are level and your knees are bent.  It is usually easiest to balance in the middle of the board, but once you get comfortable you can walk the length of the board from front to back.

“If you’re not comfortable with standing up in the beginning you can start by just rowing on your knees,” Smith said. “As you become more comfortable you can try standing up – it’s actually really stable.”

Nervous about giving it a try?

“I recommend trying it once,” she said. “If you don’t like it, you never have to try it again.”

Have you been stand up paddleboarding? What tips and advice do you have for beginners? Tell us in the comments section below.



  1. We’ve just finished our first year of lessons and rentals at SUPsurf in Toronto, Canada. So far, everyone who’s tried it has managed to stand up and paddle in just one lesson. Sure, most people fall in a couple of times in the learning process, but that’s half the fun.

    It’s great exercise without feeling like you’re working out – unless you want to develop your stroke and your style to get competitive. Then it’s a full-on workout.

    While we don’t have much surf in Toronto, we can get some big waves and some nasty chop. Learning to ride in those conditions brings it’s own kind of adrenaline rush.

    The bottom line is, SUP can give you what ever you want; a serene sunset paddle, a vigorous workout, or an adrenaline high. For what it’s worth, we paddle all year long, even throughout the winter. We just wear a drysuit in case we go for an unexpected dip!