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Get Up and Try a New Water Sport: Stand-up Paddleboarding

June 28, 2017 12:00 PM

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Stand-up paddleboarding emerged as a new water activity in recent years, and now is one of the fastest growing water sports in the world.

One reason for its popularity is the variety of experiences you can have while participating in the sport. There’s something for everyone to enjoy!

You can paddleboard for sport, exercise, and relaxation. While on a paddleboard, you can:

  • Practice yoga
  • Paddle aggressively for a cardio workout
  • Paddle solo or with friends
  • Explore and observe natural places and wildlife
  • Surf

Paddleboarding is fun, but it’s also a great workout with many health benefits. Paddleboarding:

  • Improves your balance
  • Engages many muscles, providing a full-body workout
  • Is a low-impact activity that can help injured individuals/athletes heal

While there are many opportunities and benefits associated with the sport, what you plan to do with your board depends on:

  • Your interests and preferences
  • Your skill or fitness level
  • The body of water on which you plan to paddleboard -- lake, river, ocean, etc.

At Pennsylvania state parks, visitors most often can experience paddleboarding in a lake and other relatively calm bodies of water.

While paddleboarding requires relatively minimal gear -- a board, paddle, personal flotation device (PFD), leash, and proper vehicle hookups -- you may prefer not to invest in the sport until you’ve tried it. This is where our state parks can help.

Paddleboard Rentals, Opportunities at PA State Parks

Several state parks across Pennsylvania offer paddleboard rentals at their concessions this time of year. You can use these state park resources to try this recreational activity or simply enjoy it without having to transport the equipment.

Pennsylvania state parks offering paddleboard rentals include:

To rent equipment from any of these state parks, first visit the park’s webpage to determine the rental process for that park, which could require online, phone call, or in-person communication.

While not all state parks with lakes offer paddleboard rentals, in many cases you can bring and use your own equipment. Contact the state park office you plan to visit or view park recreational guide maps to find locations where you are permitted to paddleboard.

What You Need to Know

Before heading out on the water, become familiar with the rules and requirements associated with paddleboarding, including PFD and other equipment requirements.

Additionally, whether you are a seasoned paddleboarder or new to the activity, it’s important to know how to keep yourself and others safe.

Here are some tips to help you safely enjoy your paddleboarding adventure:

  • Be a competent swimmer
  • Wear a PFD
  • Wear a leash that tethers the board to you; this keeps the board close to you in the water if you fall
  • Paddle with a partner if possible
  • Carry a whistle in case of an emergency
  • Understand and monitor the weather, elements, and hazards, i.e., winds, currents, and terrain
  • Know the times of sunrise and sunset so you’re never paddling in the dark
  • Be aware of swimmers, boaters, and other paddleboarders sharing the water with you
  • Wear sunscreen and a hat to protect you from UV rays
  • Know your limits; don’t attempt to paddle long distances if it’s your first time

Stand-up paddleboarding is relatively easy to learn, but you can expect to lose your balance as you’re gaining skills. Try to angle your body so if you fall, you’ll land into the water and not onto the board; falling onto the board is more likely to cause an injury.

The Basics

When first starting out on a paddleboard, it’s best to be in calm water that is free of obstacles such as boats and buoys.

There’s no shame in starting off by kneeling rather than standing. But once you feel ready, here are some basic steps to get you upright and keep you balanced.

This brief video provides you with additional techniques to help become a better, safer paddler.

No matter your skill level, reason for paddling, or your destination, grab a board and get outdoors to enjoy all that Pennsylvania has to offer!

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