fbpx Skip to content


ACE Insight

RESEARCH: Investigating the Athletic Performance Benefits of Standup Paddleboarding
Part 2


What fitness and caloric expenditure can one expect from standup paddleboarding?

As the popularity of standup paddleboarding (SUP) has exploded in recent years, dedicated practitioners have made a number of claims regarding the sport’s benefits, boasting improvements in muscle strength and cardiorespiratory conditioning. But does research support these claims?

To determine cardiorespiratory responses and the energy cost of SUP in both novice and experienced paddlers, we partnered
with Jeanne Nichols, PhD, and her team of researchers at the University of California, San Diego.

The Study

For this study, researchers recruited 20 paddlers (10 novice, 10 experienced; five each, men and women), aged 21–51, who were asked to do a lab test and an on-water trial. In the lab test, the scientists measured participants’ metabolic and cardiorespiratory responses using a chest-mounted portable breath-by-breath metabolic system. In the on-water trial, participants wore a sport watch that measured heart rate, and their distance paddled was tracked. Energy expenditure in the lab was measured directly from VO2 measurements, and in the on-water trial it was estimated using regression equations.


One important finding of this study was that novice paddlers, at a self-selected leisurely pace on the water, averaged 55% of maximal heart rate (MHR), falling short of the HR threshold of 64% known to generate positive cardiorespiratory adaptations (American College of Sports Medicine 2014). In addition, during the fast-paced trial the novices achieved only 65% of MHR, which is just above the threshold, whereas experienced participants averaged 75% of their MHR. In the lab, however, novice paddlers achieved 77%–87% of their MHR.

There was a large degree of variability in both groups, with energy expenditure ranging from 0.09 to 0.12 kilocalorie per kilogram per minute for novice paddlers, and from 0.13 to 0.17 kcal/kg/min for experienced paddlers. This equals 185–250 kcal burned during a 30-minute workout for novice paddlers, and 270–300 kcal for experienced paddlers. Using the average on-water HR values and an average body weight of 152 pounds (69 kg), novice paddlers would burn only about 60–125 kcal during a 30-minute session at a self-selected pace, while experienced paddlers would burn 150–199 calories in that same scenario.

The Bottom Line

Although the average relative HR of novice paddlers didn’t meet industry guidelines for maintaining and improving cardiorespiratory fitness, this would likely improve as paddlers became more comfortable with SUP. Additionally, as Dr. Nichols points out, “It’s important to acknowledge the fact that the value of getting outdoors and having fun while being physically active cannot be overstated.” As it turns out, SUP is a lot of fun—and finding enjoyable physical activity experiences makes all the difference when it comes to long-term adherence.


American College of Sports Medicine. 2014. ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription (9th ed.). Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams.

ACE Certified Group Fitness Instructor & Health Coach
Matawan, New Jersey


Q and A with SAMI

“You can’t force people to change; they truly have to want it.”

What do you love most about your job?

I love to make fitness accessible to everyone. Before I started my own health and fitness journey, I didn’t like most workouts and I didn’t know how to eat healthy meals. Through trial and error and a lot of research, I figured out what works for me. I love meeting people where they are and showing them how they can create a healthier lifestyle without feeling completely overwhelmed.

Which client are you most proud of?

I have a client who didn’t believe in herself when she started working with me. She would set goals that were easily attainable because she didn’t want to feel disappointed if she didn’t reach a more challenging goal. Since I’ve been working with her, she has changed dramatically. She has lost weight, but more importantly, she’s gained a lot of self-confidence. Now she sets bigger goals and isn’t afraid to push her limits.

Who inspires you?

My boyfriend, Brian, who is a police officer. I used to encourage him to work out with me and eat healthy foods, but to be honest, it didn’t work. You can’t force people to change; they truly have to want it. Once he was ready, Brian started going to the gym and making healthier food choices on his own.

How do you stay fit and healthy?

I love to find balance through a combination of dynamic workouts—like dancing and kickboxing—and gentler workouts, like yoga. I’ve also been able to find balance with nutrition. I have small treats and cheats here and there so that I never feel deprived.

In your opinion, what’s the biggest factor for success in meeting fitness goals?

Consistency and accountability. You can’t show up for just a day or a week and expect sustainable change. You have to show up consistently. And you need someone to help hold you accountable to your goals and to support you on your health and fitness journey.

What’s next for you?

I have been working with people online, and I love it! When I first started my own health and fitness journey, I felt really alone so it is my mission to support as many people as possible. I also like to connect with others by sharing my struggles with emotional eating on my blog. Losing 170 pounds was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I’m not special. I believe anyone can take their life back and do what I’ve done.

POLICY: Around the Country


Community Fitness Leadership

The inactivity epidemic is one of the greatest public-health challenges of the modern era. Fueled by 40 years of societal changes that have enabled sedentary living and easy access to high-calorie, low-density food options, the inactivity epidemic is firmly embedded in American culture.

The statistics are disturbing: Obesity or overweight affect 67% of adults in the United States, and 80% fail to meet the federal government’s guidelines for cardiovascular and strength exercise. These statistics help explain why 1 in 2 Americans now suffers from a chronic disease, which in many cases could have been prevented by a healthy diet and physical activity.

There are no easy or obvious solutions for policymakers and public-health officials. There are no cures or vaccines or scientific breakthroughs that will save the day. Rather, we must find a way to persuade people to move their bodies more often—something many individuals perceive to be uncomfortable and inconvenient.

Doctors want to help, of course, but they generally lack the time, training and skills necessary to empower their patients to live healthier, more active lifestyles. The traditional healthcare model—focused on diagnosis and treatment—is simply not designed to adequately address poor lifestyle choices. Exercise prescriptions are important and meaningful, but their efficacy is limited because patients leave the doctor’s office and return to a cultural environment that strongly supports sedentary and unhealthy behaviors.

So what’s needed?

We need a healthcare system that supports people in between trips to the doctor—a system that focuses on behavior change and encourages people to adopt and maintain healthy habits.

And who will be the agents of behavior change?

We believe it will be compassionate, well-qualified community fitness leaders and health coaches who are committed to changing behaviors and creating healthy environments by removing physical activity barriers and expanding opportunities in low-resource communities. At ACE, we are committed to developing these leaders and creating a new kind of public-health army—a corps of individuals dedicated to the cause.

Stay tuned for stories of ACE professionals working in their communities to inspire behavior change and create physical activity experiences where none existed previously.

YOUR CAREER: 7 Tips for Building an Online Training Business


By Mollie Martin
ACE Study Assistance Consultant

Personal trainers are no longer limited by the constraints of the gym or geography. Online personal training has experienced a surge in popularity in recent years, and given the convenience and limitless potential, this is no surprise. Whether you want to supplement your in-person training business or you plan to make it the primary focus of your business, these tips can point you in the right direction.

1. Make Your Clients the Priority

Always put clients’ needs first. The flexibility and extra income made possible by online training are alluring, but you need to assess whether this is the best option for a client’s level of fitness and his or her health and fitness goals.

2. Find Your Niche

Think about what makes you unique and why somebody would pick you out in a crowded online fitness space. Perhaps you want to work with a special population, like pregnant women or people training for their first marathon.

3. Promote Yourself

Create a simple website to promote your business. This gives you legitimacy as a trainer and provides a way for people to find you online. Use social media to drive people to your site and to promote your own personal brand.

4. Decide on a Rate

Consider the same factors you would with in-person training—session length, type of training needed, etc. Your in-person training fee may be slightly higher because you need to factor in travel time and expenses such as gas and equipment.

5. Provide Consistent Communication

Stay connected with clients. Whether you do this by phone, text, brief email or quick video message, remember that regular communication goes a long way in keeping clients engaged and excited.

6. Invest in Your Continued Education

The fitness industry is constantly changing and you need to evolve right along with it. Staying educated will keep you motivated and make you a more effective trainer.

7. Use Technology Wisely

Whether you’re training via email or doing Skype or Facetime sessions, use technology to meet clients where they are. Ask clients what works best for them and use that platform. You may want to record videos of yourself doing specific exercises or point clients to existing videos or blogs that demonstrate the exercises.

Remember that like your in-person clients, those you train online are very unlikely to stay with you their entire lives. Your goal should be to educate clients well enough so that they can rely on themselves, build intrinsic motivation and create lifelong healthful habits.

ACEFITNESS.ORG: What’s Trending


Exercise to Reduce Cancer Risk

Regular exercise can reduce the risk of getting certain types of cancer by up to 42%. Most adults should aim for either 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise or 1.25 hours of vigorous-intensity exercise each week. Yet about half of Americans fail to get the recommended amount of physical activity. Help clients lower their cancer risk by providing them with education and simple ideas for how to get moving every day—for example, by walking, taking the stairs or gardening.

Learn more at acefitness.org/reducecancerrisk .

8 Food Facts Every Athlete Should Know

Many athletes do not eat or hydrate appropriately to fuel their workouts and recoveries. Inadequate calorie or water intake can reduce performance and increase the risk of injury, as the body does not have what it needs for recovery and repair of damaged muscle tissue. How can athletes determine if their bodies are adequately fueled? They can choose nutrient-dense foods and consume them at certain times of the day, to ensure they’re addressing the three

Learn more at acefitness.org/foodfactsforathletes .

Squat-Free Workout to Strengthen the Glutes

When it comes to training for strong glutes, the first exercise that typically comes to mind is the squat. But is the squat the best exercise to strengthen and develop a muscle that allows us to move in multiple directions? Every time we lower our bodies to get into a chair or walk up a flight of stairs, we are using our glutes and hips to extend, flex and rotate. Check out this glute-focused workout designed to develop and strengthen the glutes, all without doing a single squat.

Learn more at acefitness.org/squatfreegluteworkout .

3 Powerful Ways To Get Motivated

Sometimes it can feel as if our ambition to accomplish great things and our motivation to take action are two parallel, nonintersecting lines. From losing weight to eating more healthfully, we often have a vision of what we want to accomplish, but we lack the consistent, focused motivation it takes to get there. ACE Pro Brett Klika offers three powerful techniques you can use to motivate yourself and your clients to start living an extraordinary life right now.

Learn more at acefitness.org/powerfulmotivators .


Concerned about your place in the new fitness industry? We have 40 years of experience supporting pros just like you! Let’s create a new wellness paradigm together—IDEAfit+ is the extra edge you need. Once you team up with IDEA, be sure to take full advantage of all the benefits of membership.

When you buy something using the retail links in our content, we may earn a small commission. IDEA Health and Fitness Association does not accept money for editorial reviews. Read more about our Terms & Conditions and our Privacy Policy.


Subscribe to our Newsletter

Stay up tp date with our latest news and products.