Health Benefits of Kayaking Exercise

Kayaking is an exercise performed with the help of kayak that moves across the water. It is different from canoeing, which involves sitting and paddling.

A kayak is low at water level, but a canoe-like boat that the paddler sits facing ahead keeps legs in front and use the double-bladed paddle for pulling front to back both the sides one by one. Most of the kayaks use closed decks, even though sit on top and use inflatable kayaks that are growing popularly.

Experiencing marine life for fitness can be beautiful. Doing kayaking target your body muscles such as shoulder, back, arms, abdomen, hands, abdomen, heart, and chest while water workout. Performing one-hour kayaking exercise will provide more work to all muscles groups than you can manage to do in a single session of the gym.

Kayaking was originally introduced by the Aleut and Inuit people across the Arctic Ocean, Bering Sea, Atlantic, and North Pacific Ocean. They create it with whale bones or wood covered with seals skins. This craft is around 4000 years old, and it was for hunting purpose in the lakes, rivers, and coastal oceans.

Paddling a kayak is the best way to maintain fitness in the watery world.  This exercise not only provides physical benefits but also you will get a good activity for mental health.

Calories burned: Kayaking vs other Exercises

You can see how the kayaking burns more calories than other activities in just one hour.

Kayaking (4- 5 mph Pace)

Calories Burned Per Hour – 400

Other workouts

  • Hiking – 387
  • Soccer – 378
  • Pilates -140
  • Swimming – 594
  • Elliptical – 435
  • Yoga Class – 269
  • Walking 4mph – 243
  • Raking Leaves -216
  • Running at a 6.7 mph – 600
  • Cardio kickboxing class – 597
  • Running at 6-mph – 540
  • Cycling (14- 16 mph) – 540
  • Indoor Spin Class – 413

Strengthens Mental Health

Kayak exercise makes you feel positive and build clarity in mental health. Most of the people suffer from stress and depression and get disappointed with self-worth, which develops limitless negative thoughts.

Kayaking helps to get a sense of clarity to feelings that make your body to strengthen mental health. It also manages endorphins release in the brain after a physical workout. It also creates a feeling of peace being in the water.

Induces Mental Calmness

Getting active with open water is like meditation. It allows your brain to limit the thousands of thoughts that prevent you from enjoying.  In fact, many people develop a routine for kayak exercise after their office work as it helps to release the stress and enjoy the moment.

Reduces Stress

You may have a stressful situation in personal life or having a long day at the office. Constantly you worry about the work to complete and let your boss know you are a hard worker.

Here is the solution, forget every problem for some time and do kayak exercise, which helps to release needless stressful thoughts. Having consistent stress can harm your health for the long term.

You will effectively destress yourself with kayak in comparison to other activities like the gym or walk. When you include paddling in physical activity can amazingly help to lower your stress by clearing negative thoughts. It also provides your better sleep at night.

Expands Your Social Circle

You may think about how the social circle will increase through kayak, but that goes hand in hand. Humans grow socially over time, and they need several human beings to socialize in order to achieve some extent of happiness.

If you don’t have more friends or your working schedule is keeping you away from your friend circle, then kayak is the best way to go. You can take classes or join the club. It is the best way to find friends.

Here are the benefits of kayaking exercise.

Enhance Your Confidence

Many people grow up with depression or mental disorders as they grow, and the condition keeps on lowering their confidence. However, including kayaking in your life helps to create interest in your life and make you forget all the problems. Some teenager’s depression can also decrease with kayaking courses of white-water slalom. When you start to believe good about yourself and the stuff you do, it helps to improve your confidence.

Boost Mental Focus

Physical activity improves mental focusing ability to some extent. You will manage to focus on your work and determine all responsibility.  However, kayaking performing helps to boost mental focus.

Provide Emotional Benefits

The time you spend with nature create excitement in you. A couple performing kayaking activity like touring or fishing boost positivity. It also offers you the opportunity to get people closer with each other such as couples, friends, and families.

Helps to develop a routine

Yes, doing kayaking exercise provide benefits of developing a routine. With improving your mental health, kayaking makes you develop a routine of all activities you do. You can schedule certain days for kayaking outing. You will enjoy the inflatable kayak and get increased excitement of calm nature.

Makes You Happier

The combination of different physical workout and its spending time in outdoor activities provide proven effects to feel happy. However, if you like kayaking than go out and explore the waterways. Kayak workout helps you to manage a more active lifestyle with a happy feeling.

Enhances Cardiovascular health

Regularly paddling in kayak helps to improve cardiovascular health, which benefits health. Any physical activity is best for cardio health but kayaking exceptional to distract you in a good way.

Generally, people do running or treadmill for a cardiovascular workout, but that will create a boring environment. Whereas, kayaking makes you do the physical activity by exploring nature in waterways. It can be fun as well as it burns more calories.

Improve Back Muscle Strength

Doing kayak exercise is equal to single arm exercise with seated cable row or dumbbells that taking every stroke target on your lats. While a single arm is fall back and the other gets stretched and contracted. The difference is you are performing this workout for more time.

Back muscles worked

  • Lats
  • Rhomboids
  • Latissimus Dorisi

Increase Ab Definition

Many people don’t know that kayaking helps to increase the abs definition. Your stomach is filled with hard facts that take more efforts to reduce it.

Maintaining abs require core exercise routine to remove the fats. When paddling with some extreme exercise, kayaking provides an amazing ab workout if done regularly.

The rotational actions of moving the paddle front and back for an extensive time work on obliques and abdomen. It keeps more load on your core muscles and creates abs definition.

Increase core and torso strength

While balancing and steering kayak strokes, the torso and core muscles get the targeted. The longer you try, the more work you give to your torso and core muscles and build more strength.

Boost Your Arms Strength

During Kayaking exercise, your two main muscles get targeted such as biceps, and triceps. It is a similar exercise like a gym when compared to pull-ups with high reps. You may feel tiredness in forearms and hands after some time of doing non-stop paddling. If you see kayakers and Olympian rowers, you will see their arms look bulky. It happens because these are the main areas and need to be strong to compete. That’s why they spend more time on building muscles.


  • Biceps
  • Brachialis
  • Triceps
  • Deltoid (rear, anterior and lateral)
  • Trapezius
  • Forearms (Flexor Carpl radialis, Palamaris Longis, Pronator teres, Flexor Carpi ulnarls)

Promote Shoulders Strength

Kayaking exercise put more work to your shoulder than the typical back exercise. The paddle movement comes up after every stroke and stretches forward again to give work to your shoulders. This exercise brings the motions in your shoulder muscles of large lateral, lateral deltoids, and anterior.  Your grips also utilize muscles as you do in the gym.

Improve Chest Strength

The kayaking movement for chest exercise can be similar, like single arm dumbbell bench press but slightly different. You can perform rowing motion of any specific pectoral muscles bend to balance the shoulder and the arm as you pull in.  You may notice a slight difference as performing a full bench press.

Chest muscles worked

  • Pectoral

Improve Leg Strength

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Your legs are an important part of the body to balance. As you learn good paddling technique, you will know how to give work to your hips and legs to balance kayak. It also helps to rotate your hips for better paddling and increasing leg strength.

Leg, Hip Muscles

  • Gluteus Maximus
  • Gluteus Medius

Help Weight Loss

Weight loss problem is increasing with the modern era. However, with a balanced diet and kayaking exercise can help to lose weight. You will require to perform kayaking regularly to see the difference. Doing paddling kayak only once will not bring any result. The more time you spend with kayaking, it will help to lose more weight. Regularly going 4-5 mph in a kayak for one hour helps to burn 400 calories and also depend on a person health.

Helps You Get Vitamin D

Vitamin D is important for the body to function properly. Most of the people don’t get enough vitamin D from foods or being indoors all the time. However, kayaking is the best activity to perform in the sunlight, and your body absorbs vitamin D from the sun. Remember, going out in sunlight from 7 am to 9 am provide the best benefits. After 9 am, there will harsh sunlight which can affect your skin.

Enhances Your Stamina



Similar to other physical activity, kayaking also helps to enhance your stamina. As you develop a habit of doing more paddling without getting tired for a longer time, you will definitely improve your stamina.

Before you can get serious about kayaking, you need to know a few things and review it. If you want to get more fit, then regularly do this exercise and get ready yourself for kayaking.

How to begin Kayaking?

If you go to buy the kayak in the retail market, then it cost you around $400 to $2000. Even all the kayak looks similar, which can confuse to choose. Here are the details to get help while buying a kayak.

Try before you buy a kayak

Before you jump into your kayak with excitement to paddle off in the sunset, make sure to try the kayaking. You can try the kayak in a calm water heads of your rent or local lakes from a different location. If you stay near the ocean or sea locations, then kayak practice can be easy for you. In such cases, you can take information from tour guide for kayaking tour with guidance.

Here are the different types of kayaks you can choose.

Types of Kayaks

Kayaks come in several ranges of sizes, purposes, and shapes.  Before choosing the right kayak for you, learn about some specific kayaks types which can suit your lifestyle.

Recreational Kayaks

The recreational kayaks are the beginning point of many kayakers who are looking to build a sports habit.  These kayaks type comes in a broad range of shapes, purposes, and sizes. The most common features of these kayaks are that they are durable.

Inflatable Kayaks

Inflatable kayaks are the most suitable selling kayaks these days because they have more portability. These kayaks are helpful for beginners or people who are downsizing and unable to find room for a hard-shelled kayak.

Touring Kayaks

Touring kayaks are generally equipped towards intermediate paddler who wishes to travel more distances. Some common features of the touring kayaks are that they have more lasting length and provide a thinner cockpit. These special features make touring kayaks provide better tracking capability and paddle with greater speed.

Fishing Kayaks

Many people think fishing can be done by only father and son in a canoe fishing, but kayak also has a type of fishing kayaks which is surpassing. This type of kayaks is generally made to be balanced to allow the angler to hold and cast. Many fishing kayaks also characterized by hatches and places to keep your fishing gear.

Sit on Top Kayaks

The sit on top kayaks are open but can be used for different varieties of reasons.  Many people select to sit on top kayaks because they have more space to store the belonging that you carry with you such as packs coolers, snacks, pet, or your child.

Tandem Kayaks

Tandem kayaks can be used by only two or more people. They are different from the above categories. These kayaks are chosen by people who are limited budget and don’t wish two separate family members or kayaks. You need to paddle more to use these types of boats in unison.

White Water Kayaks

The white-water kayaks are adrenaline enthusiasts as they found in high-speed, moving waters. They have narrow hulls and very short in size. They also need a large amount of skill to move.

What should you note before kayaking?

Here are some expert tips take remember before going for kayaking.

Choose the right vessel

Experts suggest taking a wide boat that helps to sit on top of it. These boats are easy to move back in case of getting flip over. Along with your kayak, invest in the lightweight paddle with high-quality, which will make easy for your body to make more effective movements.

Wear your own flotation device

It is possible that the best swimmer can also get tired very quickly in cold and rough water. Therefore, kayakers of all levels should wear a flotation device. You can also use life jackets.

Watch the weather

Checking and taking weather information is better than getting into the storm while kayaking. Lightening and wind can strike the water and create harmful waves. Do check your weather forecast before going out. Always enjoy kayaking in fantastic weather to feel good and give a better workout for your body.

Paddle with pals

When you go kayaking with your pals, it will add more fun in your activity. It is also safe to go out with friends to increase the interest in exercise and build mental and physical strength.

Don’t lose your way

Landmarking is important while experiencing kayaking. You can leave a colored fabric tied on trees which you can remember and collect back. You can also leave any bigger recognizable object at your starting point so that you can easily find your way and not to lose it. When you are in doubt, you can take guidance with an expert.

Helmet or Hat

Wearing a hat or helmet depend on the type of paddling.  Whitewater paddlers must wear a recommended helmet. Another paddlers type should consider a hat with a shield. It will protect you from injury or damaging effects from the sun or cold weather.

Proper Footwear

Wearing suitable footwear is important in different weather conditions. Booties and neoprene socks can be best for cold water paddling. Water shoes, sneakers, or closed toe sandals help to do well in warm conditions. In both case, makes sure to wear good foot for protection. There are things which can cause frequent injuries such as shells, rocks, sea life when done unprotected paddling. Therefore, proper footwear is essential for kayaking and canoeing.

Paddling Whistle

The paddling whistle is affordable and easy to carry. It is useful when caught up with trouble in the water journey. When you are kayaking in far places, then it is impossible to yell and get someone to hear you. You will get a special kind of whistle for kayaking that will make others hear your voice.  You may want to take air horns, but that can be expensive and also the best alternative. Make sure to attach your paddling whistle to your PFD so you can easily use it.

Water and Snack

It is necessary to take a water bottle and snacks when going for a short or long kayak trip. Due to paddling and sunlight, you will get soon dehydrated that can make you restless. You will not know that you will be spending more energy while kayaking exercise. However, keep water to hydrate yourself and have a snack to skip hunger. Eating snacks on the trip also make you enjoy more.

Dry Bag

Your paddlers should contain a dry bag to increase the boat speed with security. The dry bag should contain different things such as food, identity card, first aid box, phone, 2-way radio, towel, dry shirt, map. These things will help you with your kayaking journey. You can use the map if you lose somewhere unexpectedly or use the phone to get help.

Rope Throw Bag

You also need a rescue device as a rope throw bag. It will help you swim by pulling the rope with safety. It can also draw a kayak or canoe to the shore if required. You may not know when you will need a rope while kayaking in nature.


Whenever you are carrying a rope anywhere it’s important to keep the knife also. You may get the paddling knives that are often designed to cut the PFD to make them accessible with an ease. It’s great how many different uses can be done with a knife while kayaking trips.

First Aid Kit


First aid kit is always important to carry while going on any trip. You can prevent a small cut or mild injury with the help of the first aid kit. You can make a first aid kit yourself or buy one affordable pre-packed kit. Keep it in the dry bag or keep a dry box to have it handy.

Sun Protection

Protect yourself from harsh sun rays while kayaking trip by using good sunscreen and sunglasses. Most of the time, the harsh rays of sun effect on eyes and skin even if you are in the water. Therefore, have a safe kayaking journey by applying lip balm and sunscreen. As mentioned above, you can also get vitamin D in the morning sunlight, so don’t afraid to go out.


Windbreaker is a lightweight jacket which helps to protect you from the fast wind while kayaking. It is available as waterproof or water resistant. It also protects you from air or wind in the winter season.

Windbreaker may not provide you a warm feeling, but it can stop the wind from hitting your body. These are windproof jacket and important for kayaking.

Dry top and Paddling jacket

A dry top and paddling jackets are essential for kayaking. These jackets made from latex rubber gaskets in the wrist and neck. Wearing dry top keeps you dry while rolling the capsize.  Often kayaker gets some water leaks inside while inverted. However, you can use dry top when you are packed into a locked cockpit kayak with one spray clothes. While swimming, the water will leak inside from the bottom of your jacket. Dry tops are famous gear piece for kayaking.

In contrast to dry tops, the paddle jackets do not contain latex gaskets. It can be both good or bad. When you roll, make sure to have your neck and wrist are sealed to keep the water out.

If you are rafting or canoeing, then you don’t require wrist gaskets, but for kayaking, wrist gaskets are a must. Performing kayaking without gaskets shoot up sleeves of a kayaker and remain there. Some paddler jackets have an adjustable and soft neck that are open. When buying for long sleeves, kayaking jacket, go for latex wrist gaskets.

Wicking layer

Choose a good dress for water while shopping for kayaking. If you are doing frigid Whitewater paddling in warm weather, you still require to wear a dry suit to prevent the force of the air. But don’t worry, you will not get hot. Many kayak clothes are shown heat-reflecting materials into their shirt, layering, pants, and outwear to help your body temperature to maintain different weather conditions.


During kayaking, your hand gets a beating in the water. You need to protect your hands from crisping or icy river or hot summer. Different weather conditions affect the skin of the hand and the skin between your forefinger and thumb. Therefore, it’s important to wear the right gloves for your hands.

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