Today, stand up paddle is an accepted way of keeping a sane and healthy lifestyle. But my first impression of the sport was anything but.
It was maybe 12 or 15 years ago. I was out one summer morning fishing from a boat near the Napatree Bell. Way off in the distance, towards Watch Hill, I saw something small, something thin, something vertical, on the water. But I couldn’t place it. I wrote it off as a fisherman standing up in a flats-style boat sitting very, very low in the water.
As I continued fishing, the small figure came closer and slowly enlarged. To the point that I could make out that it was a person. They were standing up on the water doing something with their arms. Kind of like a hula dance. A few swishes of the arms on the right, then a few on the left, and then back to the right.
Given the title of this piece, you have by now, I am sure, figured out it was a person on a stand up paddle board. And indeed it was. It was my first recollection of seeing someone on a paddle board. Especially out in the open ocean environment. I don’t know where the young man on the board began his paddle. My last sighting was of him by the outer Stonington breakwater paddling towards Stonington Point. I thought he was nuts. Paddling an oversized surf board through chop and boat wakes didn’t seem like a sane or healthy lifestyle. I totally expected to see him get tossed into the water at any moment. But he didn’t.
Along any body of water you can now find a multitude of paddle boarders. I dare you to go out along the Mystic River any day of summer and NOT see at least a handful. Face it, stand up paddling has taken the aquatic world by storm.
And for good reason. Stand up paddling is a great work out. And a great stress reliever.
Building Tone & Releasing Tension
The simple act of getting up on a board and balancing puts to use all the leg muscles. The balancing act keeps the leg muscles constantly firing, and yes, they can and do get tired. And of course once the paddle is dipped into the water, the upper body gets worked. And once you get steaming along, the trip becomes aerobic. Paddling is a full body sport, and you know it when you step back onto dry land.
Paddle boards also provide a platform to chill. Passive yoga on a paddle board would be a great way to “destress.” But all forms of yoga are becoming popular on a paddle board. In fact, classes to help you ease into finding mental and physical balance through SUP yoga are pretty easy to find. From relaxing to extreme workouts, SUP yoga offers the gamut.
Sane and Healthy
The bottom line is that paddle boarding may be the medicine you need to keep a sane and healthy lifestyle. Being on the water, whether salt or fresh, is a soothing balm regardless anything else. Take it to a sweaty extreme, or free your mind of clutter and stress. Or find some balance in between. It’s all possible from a paddle board.
It’s summer. Now is the time to check out paddle boarding and the possibilities it brings. A light wetsuit can extend your season into the fall, one of the best times of year along the coast. The crowds are gone. The water is warm. The sky crisp and blue. A healthy lifestyle really doesn’t get much better than that.