Stand up paddle boarding is the world fastest growing water sport with plenty of fitness and mental health benefits.
Vikki Weston is a stand up paddle boarding veteran, who in September 2019 paddled 30 waterways of Sydney in 30 days as part of an expedition to encourage women to get into the sport.
She says, “stand up paddle boarding is holistic in the sense that you’ve got the physical benefits of balance, strength and raising your heart rate combined with the mental health benefits of the relaxing meditative rhythm of paddling.”
She asserts, “there are fewer irritants on the water such as noise pollution and traffic plus your phone is generally out of reach, allowing participants to connect with themselves and the environment around them.”
With Australia’s Health 2020 report showing one in five Australians have a mental health condition, it is important to take steps towards improving your mental health.
Health Direct says exercise benefits your mental health by, “releasing chemicals like endorphins and serotonin that improve your mood.”
Vikki speaks of the innate connection that we have with water. “The blue health theory was developed from the theory of green health which has been adopted in places like the UK where it is part of their national strategy.”
Green health is the theory that green environments are essential for human health. Similarly, blue health, also known as The Blue Mind Theory indicates individuals experience a sense of wellbeing and calmness when on, in or near water.
Blue health is being explored further with blue health interventions such as swimming, surfing and stand up paddle boarding for treatments for PTSD and depression because they are seeing similar effects to that of green health when people are around the water.
Vikki recommends people take a lesson before going solo. “There is so much more to paddle boarding that people realise. You want to consider the environment that you are paddle boarding in- are there any submerged objects? Are there other water users in the area such as ferries or other boats and how do you deal with them? How the wind and the weather will affect your experience. If there is an offshore wind it may not be a SUP day because you may be blown out into the ocean.”
She recommends tapping into the local knowledge around you by getting pointers on how to read the wind and ensure you are going out safely.
Whilst stand up paddle boards are getting more affordable to buy as the popularity of the sport increases, Vikki says renting a board is a good place to start. “Buying a cheaper paddleboard can result in boards that are harder to stand up on. Some cheaper boards bend like a banana.”
Most rental facilities provide a wide range of boards. As a Red Paddle Co Ambassador Vikki says, “try before you buy to become empowered with the knowledge to make a good decision on your preferred the length, width and style of board.”
Vikki says, “the gentle and natural rhythm that is produced by the repeated motions of paddling naturally unlocks deeper conversations as your mind can relax.”
Stand up paddle boarding is a versatile sport. Vikki has favourite memories of anchoring her board down in the sand and reading a book on in middle of her paddle board. For others, stand up paddle boarding may be about going the distance, getting into surfing, or really perfecting your technique.
For any suffers of galeophobia the good news is that Vikki has never seen any large marine life- unless you count dolphins and whales.
Get on a board today and experience the mental and physical health benefits of stand up paddle boarding.