How Many Calories Does Paddle Boarding Burn?

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How many calories does paddle boarding burn? Can you use it to replace the gym? How accurate are these calorie indicators? 

In this article, we try to explain everything about paddle board calories burned as well as how to properly track how many calories you burn.

So how many calories does paddle boarding burn? Paddle Boarding can burn anywhere from 305 to 1,125 calories depending on the type of paddle boarding you do, the intensity, and your weight

We explain below.

To find out more physcial benefits of paddle boarding check out our article Is Paddle Boarding Good Exercise? 

Calculation of Calories Burned

Before we get into the good stuff, we have to ask the question. How do you calculate calorie burn? According to the MD Anderson Center, The best 3 are:

  • Using an activity tracker or app that estimates the caloric burn of an activity. These are usually less accurate compared to the following 2 options.
  • A heart rate calculator, these are more accurate because they are not based on estimates. It more accurately measures the intensity of the activity from your heartbeats.
  • MET Values charts are scientific charts made by researchers which are often used in the medical community. They calculate the calories burned in one hour based on the activity and the person’s weight. 

MET is a value associated with a certain activity, known as the energy cost. Each specific activity features a certain MET value representing a multiplication of sitting still in a room all day, represented by a MET of 1. In this specific case, paddle boarding has a MET value of 6. 

An example of a MET formula would look like Calories burned per minute = (MET x body weight in Kg x 3.5) ÷ 200

So if you weighed 185 lbs (83.91 kg) and you were paddle boarding for about 2 hours (similar values to what I do normally) the calculation would look like:

6.0 x 83.91 x 3.5) / 200 = 8.81 Calories per minute. You then multiply this by 120 minutes (2-hour value) to get 1,057 Calories burned within a 2-hour frame

You can use Captain Calculator to easily calculate your values if you are like me and you hate math. 

It should be noted that MET does NOT take into account the differences in body mass, environmental circumstances, sex, age, and technique of the activity performed

MET’s should be used more as estimates as opposed to a full calculation. When I’m paddle boarding I’m often in the heat of the sun and battling the tide at some point or another. So if I was looking for a more accurate representation I would use a heart rate monitor

Calculation of Calories Burned for Recreational Paddling

An experienced paddler who has proper paddling techniques can burn 300 to 600 calories per hour on a leisurely paddle. Of course, there are a lot of factors such as conditions, paddling intensity, and weight that can account for this. 

According to the MET values above, I would be burning 526.8 calories per hour. Now, this is assuming that it’s calm water conditions and my weight for that day is 185 lbs. This, of course, is far from reality as there are things that will impact this score like the sun, tides, and wind that come into play. 

Calculation of Calories Burned for SUP Yoga

For SUP yoga I feel that this rating will be more varied. There are a wide variety of factors that come into play when it comes to SUP Yoga

  • What type of yoga positions are you doing? 
  • Is this high-intensity yoga or lower-intensity yoga? 
  • What is the temperature outside?
  • Are External factors like wind/ waves coming through and causing interruptions? 

Yoga has MET scores from 2 all the way to 4, while paddle boarding has an MET score of 6. When put into captain calculator Yoga for someone who is my weight 185 lbs come back as 

Type of ActivityMETCalories Burned
Yoga, Nadisodhana2177
Yoga, Hatha2.5221
Sitting, teaching stretching or yoga, or light effort exercise class2.8247
Yoga, Surya Namaskar3.3291
Yoga, Power4353
Information Provided by Captain Calculator

If you add to it the unique angle doing these routines with a board in the water you will be able to add an extra 200 to the score. The long and the short of it is paddle boarding yoga can be anywhere from 400 to 650 calories burnt per hour

Calculation of Calories Burned for SUP Surfing

There is a few dimensions at play when it comes to SUP surfing, which can make calorie count more tricky.

  • How much of that time are you actually surfing? 
  • How big are the waves?
  • What type of paddle board are you surfing? 

The MET’s on the generic term surfing range a bit more for someone who is 185 lbs…

Type of ActivityMETCalories Burned
Surfing, body or board, general3265
Surfing, body or board, competitive5441
Windsurfing, not pumping for speed5441
Paddle boarding, standing6530
Windsurfing or kitesurfing, crossing trial11971
Windsurfing, competition, pumping for speed13.51192
Information Provided by Captain Calculator

So according to the chart, the calories burned is about 530 for my specific weight. In this case, the range for paddle board surfing would be anywhere from 400 to 750 calories burned per hour

Calculation of Calories Burned for SUP Touring

SUP touring involves traveling longer distances at an increased stroke rate and heart rate. This is where the intermediate and advanced paddlers come to play. 

There is not a ton of data available with METs to figure this particular one In a study that Isle Surf and SUP conducted where they measured the number of calories burned at Glorietta Bay going at an average speed of 3 mph, they calculated an average of 615 to 708 calories being burned. Unfortunately, they did not disclose the exact formulas they used to calculate this.  

Calculation of Calories Burned for SUP Racing

composite paddle board
photo by StarBoard SUP

SImilar to the above there is not a lot of MET data on this particular form of SUP activity. 

At the Dana Ocean Challenge Isle calculated that the person racing the 5 mile SUP race burned 713 to 1125 calories per hour at high intensity. As you can see this is almost double the calories burned for recreational paddle board levels!

Calculation of Calories Burned for SUP Fishing

This one, much like SUP surfing and SUP yoga is up for more interpretation. There are so many things that you can be doing (or not doing) that make this one a bit more challenging. According to the MET fishing can feature a MET score of anywhere from 1.8 to 7. In this case, we looked at specific scores for my weight level that would be realistic to be doing from a paddle board. 

Type of ActivityMETCalories Burned
Fishing from boat or canoe, sitting2177
Fishing from river bank, standing (Taylor Code 660)3.5309
Fishing, dip net, setting net and retrieving fish, general3.5309
Information Provided by Captain Calculator

Now keep in mind these MET’s are for 185 lbs. So the calories burned per hour range for SUP fishing would be on average between 300 to 600.

Other Activities with Similar Calorie Levels Burned

Some other activities with similar caloric levels burned are (based on 185 lb weight)

  • Ice Hockey: 8 MET 706 Calories burned
  • Jogging: 7 MET 618 Calories burned
  • Canoeing: 4 MET 353 calories burned
  • Kettlebell workout: 9.8 MET 865 Calories Burned
  • Mowing the Lawn: 5.5 MET 483 Calories burned

Much like what I said above, these are just estimates, other factors come into play for all of these other activities. 

The Importance of Proper Paddling Technique

Of course, your calorie burn rate will be much greater when you have the proper paddling technique down. This may take a few tries (and falls) but once you get this down your calories will burn at a higher level. A few tips from me:

  • Relax, this may seem like weird advice but when you are all tensed up you don’t move as well with the waves
  • When paddling look forward 
  • Paddling is about using your whole body. Bury your paddle in the water like a shovel, use your arms, chest, and core to pull the paddle towards you to get a complete stroke
  • Stand in the middle of the board with your feet just a bit wider than a shoulder-width apart.
  • For simple turns you can do small strokes towards the middle of the board on one side
  • For efficiency paddling try to keep the board paddling in as straight a line as possible

A Note on Caloric Intake

How does one lose weight quickly? Well, many experts estimate that 80% of it is diet. This means eating clean while doing activities you love will greatly increase the efficiency of losing weight. 

So before you wolf down those triple scoops of ice cream after a hot day paddle boarding, realize that you will be right back where you started from. 

  • Recreational Paddle Boarding: 526.8 calories per hour (185 Lbs) 
  • 3 Large scoops of ice cream: 537 calories

So you actually just gained 10 more calories eating the 3 scoops of ice cream. Now I’m not saying this to shame people from eating ice cream (It’s my kryptonite) but you just have to be aware of what your caloric intake and output goals are.

Something I personally have found helpful is intermittent fasting. Find a 16-hour window where you do not eat anything (usually from evening to the morning). Eating during the evening can influence caloric intake quite a bit. Especially if it’s junk food like chips. 


Below are some common questions I’ve been asked about paddle board calories burned.

How Many Calories Do 2 Hours of Paddle Boarding Burn? 

2 hours of casual paddle boarding can burn between 610 and 1,300 calories per 2 hours depending on the conditions, your technique, age, body fat composition, and more. 

In my case for a 185 lb mid 30’s lad, the rough estimate would be 1053 Calories burned. 

Does Paddle Boarding Burn Belly Fat?

Paddle Boarding can help aid the burning of belly fat however it is not the end-all-be-all problem solver. The things that will help burn belly fat the most are regular exercise and eating a healthy diet. 

Do You Burn More Calories Kayaking or Paddle Boarding?

When comparing Calorie burn between kayaking and paddle boarding using Captain Calculators comparisons. For someone who is 185 lbs, Paddle boarding burns 520 calories while kayaking at a moderate level burns 441 calories

Keep in mind these are just estimates based on MET scores of people paddling in a recreational setting. As with paddle boarding, the type of kayaking you do and for how long will greatly influence the caloric burn rate. 

Does Paddle Boarding Work Your Core?

A study from Ace fitness in 2016 measured core activation during stand-up paddleboarding. The main groups that were measured were the effects on the Rectus Abdominis, External Oblique and the Erector SPine. 13 volunteers between the ages of 21 and 25 years old, both male and female who had some paddling experience were placed on a 10’6” ft surfboard in a steeplechase pit that had two 40 lb sled weights attached. 

They measured RPE levels of 11, 13 and 15 (Ratings of Perceived Exertion) Against MVC% (Maximal voluntary Contraction). The results showed that the higher the RPE levels the more effective paddle boarding were, strengthening your rectus abdominis, erector spinae, and external obliques. 

So in human speak, yes paddle boarding can work your core if you put sufficient effort into each stroke. 

How Good of a Workout is Paddle Boarding?

The calories burned paddle boarding can be comparable to sports such as jogging running and swimming. 

The better your paddling technique the more calories your burn. Here is a summary of calories burned per each paddle boarding activity as done by Isle Surf and SUP

  • Casual Paddling: 305 – 340 calories burned per hour
  • SUP Yoga: 416 – 540 calories burned per hour
  • SUP Surfing: 623 – 735 calories burned per hour
  • SUP Touring: 615 – 708 calories burned per hour
  • SUP Racing: 713 – 1125 calories burned per hour

All of this and all of the above ranges are average estimates. To get the best reading, track your heart rate in an app or calculator and then plug it into here

What are some of your custom readings? We’d love to know!

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Hey, My name is Derek Lenze and I'm the owner of Inflatable SUP Authority. I've had over 20 years experience with watersports and over 10 years of various paddle boarding experience. My new-found passion is bringing my stand up paddle boaring knowledge in an explainable and actionable way all the while giving you my unbiased takes.

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