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Read Time 10 min

Paddle Sports for Parkinson’s

Paddle sports refer to a group of watersports that require a paddle to steer a vessel through water.

If you’ve never tried a paddle sport before, get ready for the time of your life!

Whether you’re taking a Caribbean cruise or going on a fishing trip with friends or family, there’s something inherently adventurous about getting off dry land and onto a boat, right?

But with paddle sports, you’re not just on a boat, you feel like you are the boat because you’re using your own strength to power the vessel.

That strength mainly comes from rotating the torso. This repetitive, rotatory movement of the torso is helpful to people with Parkinson’s who struggle with rigidity.

Torso rotations get a bit more challenging later on, so paddle sports are a great way to combat the symptoms of PD, while keeping the body nice and flexible.

Examples of paddle sports include:


This is mostly an open boat sport, done in a long narrow boat using a single bladed paddle. With canoes, the paddler either kneels or sits on a raised seat inside the deck with their knees bent. You can take a canoe to calm lakes, mild moving rivers or even whitewater if you’re feeling adventurous.


Kayaks allow paddlers to sit close to the bottom of the boat with outstretched legs. Kayaking paddles are long, double-bladed paddles used to alternatively row on both sides of the kayak without the need to switch sides. People generally use kayaks on calm or only slightly moving water, like lakes, or gently flowing rivers, but you can also take them out on the ocean and in whitewater.

Standup Paddle Boarding

Yep, this is pretty much exactly how it sounds. Paddle boarding is when you stand up on what looks like an oversized surfboard. You use a long single bladed paddle to propel yourself across the water. Want to test your balance skills even further? Try standup paddle board yoga, which is doing yoga on a paddleboard.

The most fun you’ll have getting a full-body workout

You don’t have to be a high-endurance athlete to do paddle sports, so there is no need to feel intimidated. People of all ages and fitness levels can safely and easily enjoy this activity.

Paddle sports involve big, flowing, multi-segmental movements of the whole body, meaning you’re in for a solid full-body workout.

One advantage to paddle sports is that you work muscles in ways you can’t achieve with an ordinary trip to the gym. Sure, you can get an intense workout from doing a ton of reps on various weight machines.

But if you’re looking to shake things up a bit, try paddle sporting instead. Chances are you’ll achieve the same increased muscle strength in your back, arms, shoulders and chest, while getting a great cardiovascular workout.

Yet paddle sports are so much fun, you forget that you’re actually exercising until you wake up sore and sunburned the next morning. (Don’t forget your sunscreen!) Oh, there’s also the fact that you’re gliding through water with the beauty and grace of a majestic sea creature.

Just remember that medium- to high-intensity exercise is best when it comes to slowing down the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Like any other fitness activity, paddle sports are more effective when you push yourself to try something more challenging.

At the same time, always listen to your body when it tells you to slow down, rest or drink water. Safety comes first.

Safety tips to remember when paddle sporting

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