If you own a smart watch and enjoy exercise, tracking your exercise minutes and calories can be a fun activity. It allows you to set goals for yourself and reach them every day. Paddle boarding is a great physical activity to hit those goals. It activates many muscles to build strength and stability. How do you make the most out of paddle boarding with an Apple Watch?

If you wear an Apple watch while paddle boarding, it will pick up on your movements and progress towards your goals. But because the watch doesn’t know what you’re doing specifically, opening the ‘Workout’ app and selecting a ‘Paddling’ workout will track your workout most effectively.

The Apple Watch has many unique features that make it incredibly popular among consumers. This includes the detailed fitness tracking that offers many workout selections and tracks the distance, active exercise minutes, time, and active calories burned during a workout. You can effectively track your paddle boarding session and aim towards higher goals with the watch.

Paddle Boarding With An Apple Watch

Activity Application

One of the highlighted features on the Apple Watch is the ‘Activity’ application, which is responsible for tracking your fitness throughout the day. There are three goals you aim to hit every day:

  1. Exercise Goal: This goal tracks the number of minutes you spend exercising in a day.
  2. Move Goal: This tracks the number of active calories you burn during the day. You will burn more total calories, but this tracks the calories burnt during exercise or through active movement.
  3. Stand Goal: You are encouraged to stand for at least a minute in 12 hours each day. This reminds you if you are sitting for too long and to take a minute to move around.

The application shows these as rings and fills them as you progress towards the goal each day. Closing all three rings indicates that you had an active day. The app also tracks the number of steps you take and the distance you travelled. Your paddle boarding workouts can help push these rings forward.

You can set your Move goal each week and the watch will suggest how many you should hit based on the previous week’s marks. Opening the application on your phone will allow you to see your progress over time and look at the individual workouts and steps you took on a specific day in a calendar format.


While you could just go about your day and let the watch try and figure out the exercise you are doing, you can track your workouts much more effectively with the ‘Workout’ app on the watch. You can choose from dozens of sports and let the watch know when you begin and finish the workout. This will track all the activity within that time period.

When paddle boarding, select the ‘Paddling’ workout on your watch. The technology in the watch knows the movements associated with each sport, allowing it to gauge the rigour at which you paddle and reflect the exercise minutes and calories burned more accurately. The watch would not know exactly what you are doing if you simply wore it while paddle boarding.

Using this feature on the Apple Watch allows you to get the most out of your paddle boarding exercise. You will be able to see the active calories, total calories, and the total time you spent during that session. For Series 2 Apple Watches and higher, the technology also tracks your heart rate during the workout. It will show the fluctuations and averages across the duration. 

Fitness tracking and the ability to gauge your heart rate during exercise are two of the coolest and most helpful features on the Apple Watch for active users. Paddle boarders can get a lot out of using these features to compare their workouts across time and gauge how it stacks up to other forms of exercise, including running. Paddle boarding is a great way to exercise.

Music and Podcasts

While you should always be aware of your surroundings in open water for the risk of boats and other athletes, listening to music or a podcast during your paddle boarding workout makes it a lot more enjoyable. Just make sure the volume is not too loud to distract you from your surroundings. You can load music and podcasts onto your watch without needing your phone.

You will need Bluetooth headphones (preferably waterproof in case you fall in) that can connect to your watch. This feature makes any workout more enjoyable as you do not need to have your phone nearby to enjoy your music. This is particularly helpful in paddle boarding, as having your phone near a body of water presents large risks for damage.

You can add the music and podcasts to your Apple Watch before you paddle from your iPhone, making playlists and selecting particular episodes. You can skip, replay, and pause songs from your watch as well as control the volume. You can seamlessly slide to your music within the Workout app for easy manoeuvring.

Accessory Features for Great Paddle Boarding

There are additional features that are offered on the Apple Watch, depending on the model you choose.

Cellular Capabilities

The Series 3 Apple Watch and higher offers a cellular feature where you can pay a monthly fee for cellular capabilities on your watch. This feature can be very helpful when you are paddle boarding in emergency situations. There have been numerous cases where people exercising in remote locations (such as an ocean or lake) have been saved by calling from their Apple Watch.

The cellular capabilities feature is excellent for safety and making phone calls to both emergency services and loved ones if needed. This is only offered on the cellular-enabled Apple Watch, but maybe worth the extra money if you find yourself without your phone in potentially dangerous situations often.

Water Lock Mode

The level of water resistance is dependent on the model of watch you have, but Series 2 models and above are waterproof, making them ideal for water sports and paddle boarding. The newest models can submerge up to 50 meters without issue. The water lock mode allows for your watch to be protected from submersion if you fall in or splashes occur.

Other Great SUP Apps from the Apple Store

If you still want more from your Apple, there are thousands of water, wind and weather-related apps for your iPhone to choose from in the Apple store. Here are 5 that I have used and find to be very handy.

Making the Most Out of The Experience

Paddle boarding with or without an Apple Watch is going to be a cool experience. It can be relaxing or rigorous depending on your preference, while still providing you with a great workout. But having an Apple Watch can maximize your time on the water by providing you with detailed exercise information and a variety of fun features you wouldn’t get otherwise.

Beyond the fitness tracking, music, and accessory capabilities, having a waterproof watch with you on the water is helpful for safety and keeping track of time. It is helpful to know how long you’ve been out on the water, especially if you need to need to be back by a certain time. Time can fly by while paddle boarding, and the watch keeps you on your schedule.

Final thoughts

If you aren’t using an Apple Watch while paddle boarding, you should give it a try. Paddle boarding is fun to do, but it’s even more fun to see your progress and the work you’re doing out there. Active people are goal-oriented, and using the watch can help you achieve these goals with concrete numbers. Push yourself to beat the numbers from your last workout!

But while doing so, always stay safe and have fun.