By Peg Lopata, Contributing writer
REGION – The temperatures are in the nineties. There’s hardly a breeze. You could hide out in the air conditioning, if you’ve got that, but you want to be outdoors. Here’s something to consider: paddleboarding!
From nine to ninety
There’s evidence paddleboarding or SUP (stand-up paddleboarding) was once enjoyed by people centuries ago, but lucky for us it’s been recently re-discovered.
It’s a sport for everyone, according to Aaron Mearns, owner, Coast to Coast Paddle, Beverly and Salem.
“We’ve put everyone on the water from children age three to an adult in his nineties,” he said.
But it’s especially good for those fifty and older.
Says Abigail Golde, 74, who’s been paddleboarding almost a decade, “You can regulate just how much you want to exert yourself.”
Of course, it’s for those who love the water, want to cool off, get some exercise and keep their balance working well–without spending lots of money. Rentals at Coast to Coast, for example, start at $20 an hour and group lessons are $35, including all the equipment.
For a strong body
“Paddleboarding is one of the best full body workouts out there,” said Deb Laufer, general manager of Paddle Boston. “It has a relatively low impact on your joints. It’s a great way to maintain strength and balance–balance is like a muscle and it’s hard to gain back if you’ve lost it.”
Additionally, Ryan Burch, owner of SUPfari Adventures Cape Cod, Brewster and Orleans, notes that this sport keeps your reaction time quick.
“Many of us walk on sturdy ground all the time so certain muscles do not get tested,” Burch explained. “As we age, these muscles begin to weaken and our reaction time slows down. With paddleboarding, the platform is in constant motion so we have to use these muscles to find our balance and make their reaction time quicker.”
Coastal cruising for a sound mind
Does a platform in constant motion under your feet sound scary? Not if you accept that you may fall in–at least once–and that keeping your knees bent keeps you on the board. Some wear personal flotation devices. With a good instructor, you’ll be taught to keep safe and learn tips to keep your balance on the board.
And for a mind that’s become unbalanced–paddleboarding may do you some good in that regard as well. Though some may get nervous about falling in, once you get over that, what could be more calming than having water surround you on a hot day and the horizon to gaze at?
“It shoots off juices in your head that’ll calm you down,” said John Levy, 65, of Charles River Canoe and Kayak. “I go into a Zen state when I’m paddling.”
For Mearns, paddleboarding is peaceful because it connects him to beautiful coastal waters. It’s also beautiful that this sport doesn’t require much gear: the ocean, a river, pond or lake, a board and a paddle.
Lessons are not very expensive, there are a wide range of prices for the equipment, and you can explore waterways of all kinds. And if you’re the curious type, you can also see what’s going on below the surface. You can fish from a paddleboard, snorkel, and even bring your dog along.
If you have some medical issues, ask your doctor if there’s any reason you shouldn’t try paddle boarding. Then take a lesson, start off slowly, be prepared to fall in at least once, build up your strength and stamina, have fun and maybe find that Zen state.
Or, warns Golde, “Get ready for a new compulsion.”
Check out the following websites to begin your paddleboard adventure:
Paddle Boston: https://paddleboston.com/
Coast to Coast Paddle: http://www.coasttocoastpaddle.com/
SUPfari Adventures Cape Cod: https://supfariadventures.com/