7 Essential Hydration Tips For Stand Up Paddle Boarders
Hydration is important in everyday life and even more critical while being active on the water. Paddling on your SUP board, you may be having too much fun to notice the effects of sun exposure and how hard your body is working, increasing your need for fluids. Sub-optimal hydration can lead to decreased performance and mental fatigue, which can make your paddling outings less enjoyable and have you feeling tired and out of sorts for hours after getting off the water.
If you let it get to the point of dehydration, you run the risk of more severe symptoms such as muscle cramps, heart palpitations, confusion, weakness, or worse. Proper hydration is essential to your paddle boarding enjoyment and performance, so here are some tips to help you stay hydrated while getting out on your SUP board:
For Short Paddles - Stick To Water
Plain water is the best drink for moderate cruising or exploring, and much better for you than sugary or caffeinated drinks, which can actually increase your thirst. If you don’t like the taste of plain water, try adding a slice of lemon or lime to your drink to give it a touch of flavor.
For Longer Paddles - Consider Electrolytes
For long-distance or high-intensity paddling, adding some sports drinks with electrolytes can help replace key components that are lost through sweating and can help aid in endurance. Sports drinks should not be overdone because most contain significant amounts of sugar or artificial sweeteners.
To help combat dehydration and keep you sharp, water should ideally be sipped at regular intervals, approximately every 20 minutes. Even when you are paddling at a leisurely pace, your muscles are at work keeping you balanced on the board and expending energy that you may not even realize. Frequent water breaks become even more important in hot weather or when you are paddling at a faster pace.
Don’t Wait for the Effects of Dehydration
Before you feel thirsty, your body is already experiencing some of the effects of inadequate hydration. Keep your water bottle in a convenient spot in plain view and stop to drink even if you don’t think you need to. Bungees are specifically designed to keep what you need in front of you.
Start Out Fully Hydrated
Carry your reusable bottle with you and drink throughout the day. Most people go through their day slightly dehydrated and accept feeling less than 100% of their potential energy and alertness as normal. If you start your paddle already at a hydration deficit, you’ll have an uphill climb to stay hydrated when your body starts working.
While it's tempting to go with the 8 glasses a day we've heard over the years, the modern take on adequate hydration is to drink what you need. Some people will feel better if they drink more, some won't need as much. Diuretics such as caffeine and alcohol will play a big role in how hydrated you feel and should be minimal.
Use Reusable Bottles
We recommend a bottle that can be clipped to your board’s bungee tie-downs with a carabiner. Failing this as long as it's big enough to be secured by your bungee cords it is OK. This is much better for the environment than disposable plastic bottles and can save you hundreds of dollars each year that you would otherwise spend purchasing bottled water. If you like your water chilled, treat yourself to a stainless steel vacuum flask that can keep your drink cool and tasting great for an entire day in the sun. If you would like more information on the incredibly damaging effects of plastic water bottles please see this page and video - The Story Of Bottled Water >
Make It a Habit
Like anything in life, habitual good behavior is the key to long-term change. Try to make drinking plain water a habit! Stick to ice water instead of ordering drinks when you eat at restaurants. It’s better for your health, and the money you will save can be used for buying better SUP equipment!
Observing these hydration tips will improve your stamina and performance while paddle boarding and have you spending more time feeling great while enjoying the water and having fun on your SUP board.