One of the most common questions that people ask me about Stand Up Paddling is “How many calories can I burn”?
I’ve spent some time online looking for the correct answer but I thought I’d do a little “un-scientific” research myself. So I paddled yesterday using a heart rate monitor and my Polar Computer to give me a pretty accurate picture of a typical SUP workout.
Now a couple of considerations and disclosures. First, the heart rate monitor I used is made for cycling. I simply took the computer off of my bike and put it in my pocket while paddling. Certainly there may be some adjustments that need to be made for the “type of workout” but since large muscle groups are being worked in both cycling and paddling, I don’t think the calorie calculation would change very much.
The other consideration is the paddlers size and weight. I’m 6’2″ and weigh-in at about 225-228. Additionally, I paddle about 5 days a week which, I hope, means that my condition level should be a bit higher than the average bear. I would expect my average heart rate would be a bit lower as a result.
I conducted my un-scientific test on a clear morning with a slack tide and little to no wind. The conditions were nearly perfect and had little to no effect on my workout (as opposed to a strong head/tail wind, etc.). I paddled a 12′ standard board (SupWorks Alpha) which weighs in at 28 pounds and I was using an QuickBlade Kahana carbon fiber paddle.
Here are the results….
- Exercise Time: 53:43
- In-Zone: 51:32
- Average Heart Rate: 147bpm
- Calories Burned: 822kcal
Couple of comments:
- The “Exercise Time” is the total time from when I started to paddle to when I stopped.
- “In-Zone” refers to how many minutes my heart rate was in my “Anaerobic Zone”. My “Zone” is between 118bpm and 170bpm.
- My average heart rate for the entire workout cycle was 147bpm.
- I burned 822 calories for the entire workout. Using the same data, had a continued the same pace for an additional 6:17 making the total workout time 60 minutes, I would have burned a total of 923 calories for the hour. (Sorry for not making it an even 60 minutes, I just paddle a course every day and don’t pay much attention to the time)
So the net-net is this. I burn 923 calories per hour on a normal Stand-Up Paddle workout.
It’s interesting to me that the my heart rate was as high as it was. On a typical long-distance bike ride (on a Cervelo S1), my heart rate averages in the low mid 130’s. When I paddle I don’t really feel that I am working as hard as my heart rate (147) would indicate. I also don’t feel as “beat” when I am done paddling as when I ride.
So that is my little study. I guess the simple conclusion is that, although my findings are not “scientific” they do show that paddling is a great low-impact core workout. If I burned the 822 calories during a typical workout and did it 5 days a week I would lose over 1 pound a week (assuming my calorie intake stayed consistent).