SUP is the Ultimate Stressbuster

Let’s face it, most of us have had to deal with far more stress during the COVID-19 pandemic than we are used to.

Rather than turn to the liquor cabinet or pill bottle, may we suggest a healthier alternative? That’s right: Stand Up Paddle Boarding! Following are the main reasons that SUP can lower your tension levels and give you a mental reset.

Exercise and Stress

SUP exercise and health benefits

SUP is an excellent form of exercise. The physical benefits of exercise—improving physical condition and fighting disease—have long been established, and physicians always encourage staying physically active.

Exercise is also considered vital for maintaining mental fitness, and it can reduce stress. Studies show that it is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and at enhancing overall cognitive function.

The exercise you get while paddling a SUP can help relieve symptoms of depression in several ways. Among other benefits, it helps stimulate the release of feel-good brain chemicals.

The first thing that typically comes to mind regarding exercise and depression is what is commonly known as “runner’s high.” This describes the release of endorphins that your brain experiences when you physically exert yourself.

Endorphins are a type of neurotransmitter, or chemical messenger that help relieve pain and stress.

 

Meditative Aspects of SUP

meditation on a paddle board

One of the most common holistic prescriptions for stress is meditation – the art of being in the moment and creating a state of mindfulness. Meditation can be an extremely difficult skill to master and maintain.

Stand up paddle boarding can ease you into a meditative state as you focus on the feel of the water under your feet and center your mind around replicating the perfect paddle stroke over and over.

As your problems melt away, you create a “flow state” – that sense of fluidity between your body and mind where you are completely absorbed by and deeply focused on something beyond the point of distraction.

Time feels like it as slowed down as your senses are heightened and you become one with the task at hand.

 

Mental Benefits of Being Outdoors

health benefits of SUP

There is a strong connection between time spent in nature and reduced negative emotions. This includes symptoms of anxiety, depression, and psychosomatic illnesses like irritability, insomnia, tension headaches, and indigestion.

Stress is relieved within minutes of exposure to nature as measured by muscle tension, blood pressure, and brain activity. Time in and around green spaces significantly reduces your levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Studies have shown that regular use of natural areas for physical activity can reduce the risk of mental health problems by 50%.

Completing activities like paddle boarding, cycling, jogging, or doing yoga in a natural environment makes you happier than in the city.

 

Bodies of Water Reduce Tension

paddle board

Blue mind science—the study of aquatic environments’ health benefits offers the cure for the blues.

“People can experience the benefits of the water whether they’re near the ocean, a lake, river, swimming pool or even listening to the soothing sound of a fountain,” says marine biologist and author of the 2014 book Blue Mind, Wallace Nichols.

”Most communities are built near bodies of water not just for practical reasons, but because as humans, we’re naturally drawn to blue space…but even if you aren’t in an area where there is easy access to water, you can still experience [its] emotional benefits. Water is considered the elixir and source of life. It covers more than 70% of the Earth’s surface, makes up nearly 70% of our bodies, and constitutes over 70% of our heart and brains,” says Nichols.

“This deep biological connection has been shown to trigger an immediate response in our brains when we’re near water.

In fact, the mere sight and sound of water can induce a flood of neurochemicals that promote wellness, increase blood flow to the brain and heart and induce relaxation.

Thanks to science, we’re now able to connect the dots to the full range of emotional benefits being on, in, or near the water can bring.”

 

Stimulate your Vagus Nerve

inflatable paddle board

The vagus nerve system acts to counterbalance the fight or flight system and can trigger a relaxation response in our body. It is one of the cranial nerves that connect the brain to the body.

The vagus nerve is a major part of how our bodies and brains function; without it, our bodies wouldn’t be able to do basic tasks, and by stimulating it we can receive powerful health benefits.

One of the best ways to stimulate your vagus nerve is to slow your breathing down through deep and slow belly breathing which can correspond perfectly with the rhythm of your SUP paddle stroke.

Conclusion

Science Says A study done in 2016 on The physiological, musculoskeletal and psychological effects of stand up paddle boarding showed not only that participants had an increase in self-reported quality of life but also a decrease blood pressure levels and significant improvement in aerobic and anaerobic fitness levels. Participants also showed a measurable improvement in lean muscle mass.

In past blog posts, we’ve highlighted the myriad of physical benefits that stand up paddle boarding offers and these are important but with the challenges we’ve all dealt with over the past year, mental health improvement may be your best reason to take up SUP!

 

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