The Mental Health Benefits Of Paddle Boarding

Posted on May 11, 2022 by Reed Naliboff

“Better in Balance” means a lot to us—after all, it’s the phrase you can read on the side of our boards, it’s found within pages on this very site, and sits at the core of who ISLE is. Representing a balance between mind, body, and soul, life is better in balance because of the time we take to reconnect with ourselves. More than selling paddle boards, we’ve always believed in sharing the art of a life that’s paced fast enough for every adventure, and slow enough to catch our very breath.


Nonetheless, in a world that’s super fast-paced, and where mental health issues aren’t talked about as openly as we sometimes hope they would be, it’s hard to find that balance. While some days it may feel like you’re effortlessly paddling through the water without a care in the world, we know on other days it may feel like the weight of your thoughts is all too much. Nonetheless, every adventurer deserves to know this: the first step toward a balanced mind is simply trying your best, and that’s more than enough.



Breaking The Stigma

We live in a world that’s constantly on the go. We’re woken up by notifications on our phones, pressed to get up by alarm clocks that endlessly resound, and spend our days going to work, tending to our families, studying for school, and so on. Time ticks on, the days go by, and we come to a point where we ask ourselves: when did I give myself the time to breathe?


If you go out for a paddle and look out on the water, the first ten people you see all live unique lives, but how many people out of those ten struggle with mental health issues? One of those people may even be you, which is why we’re here to say: the stigma ends here. There is no “life that’s better in balance” without first recognizing that our minds need balance too, and we believe paddle boarding can help.





The Mental Health Benefits Of Paddle Boarding

There’s something about paddle boarding that awakens the soul just a little more each day. Maybe it’s the possibility of visiting a new body of water, the feeling you get when you learn a new skill, or the relief you feel after an evening paddle, leaving every worry behind. So how does paddle boarding help mental health?


Paddle boarding can help combat anxiety and depression. John J. Ratey, a professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School states that “getting out and moving may be the single best nonmedical solution we have for preventing and treating anxiety.” Although anxiety is just one of many mental health issues people struggle with, Ratey notes that moving the body lowers tension, which often contributes to feelings of anxiety. He also notes that increasing your heart rate helps in releasing serotonin, and exercising regularly helps to build endurance against “stormy emotions.”


Dr. Michael Craig Miller, another professor of psychiatry at the Harvard School of Health states that “In people who are depressed, neuroscientists have noticed that the hippocampus in the brain—the region that helps regulate mood—is smaller. Exercise supports nerve cell growth in the hippocampus, improving nerve cell connections, which helps relieve depression.” The good news about paddle boarding is, no matter what level of intensity you prefer, you control the pace, and at the end of the day, you still get all the benefits of moving your body in a way that helps your mental health.





Paddle boarding is a natural stress reliever. A lot of people often struggle with fatigue or a lack of energy, which can, many times, be credited to stress. Fortunately, there are many ways that paddle boarding can relieve stress. Likewise, there are also many studies that show how spending time in green spaces positively impacts neural activity, in turn, making us feel more grounded, and less stressed.


Paddle boarding is a way to reconnect with yourself. If we’re being honest, there are times when we face mental health issues head-on, and there are times when we’re really just distracting ourselves, sometimes unbeknownst to us. As life gets busy, it’s often hard to find the time to sit down with ourselves and become self-aware of the reality that there are active struggles going on in the mind, but realities change, and that’s some pretty good news. As you paddle out onto the water, free of the distractions, take some time to meditate or pray, write in a journal, or simply try some breathing exercises to help recenter yourself.


Paddle boarding is a way to connect with others. One of the best ways to combat mental health issues is by having a support group, and sometimes that support group is built off of the people closest to you—so why not paddle with them? As you take the time to socialize and connect with others, you may find that you’re not alone in your struggles, and can practice vulnerability in opening up to others for help. Beyond that, the memories created on the water, the laughter that ensues, and the peace that is felt, is bound to bring a balance to the mind unlike any other.



Mental Health Resources

Balancing mental health is a practice, and it often takes time. So, no matter where you find yourself, or no matter how hard it may feel, we want to encourage you to know that there are ways to improve your mental health, and while it may take more than just a paddle on the water, breaking the stigma and having these conversations is a good place to start. For additional resources on mental health, feel free to check out the links below.


National Alliance on Mental Health

NAMI Helpline

SAMHSA’s National Helpline

Mental Health America



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