Is Kayaking Good Exercise [ 15 Incredible Health Benefits ]

Is kayaking good exercise

Well, let’s have a look at every muscle group involved when kayaking shall we?

  • The back
  • The shoulders
  • The abs
  • The arms
  • The chest
  • The legs

Mostly importantly, it stimulates the heart and keeps it active and healthy.

As you can see, I don’t think there isn’t a part of the human body that kayaking doesn’t benefit in some way.

So is kayaking good exercise?…….simply put….yes!!

Of course it is!

Kayaking is not only incredible for exercise but it allows you to get outside, away from the mundane workouts in the gym and really take in your natural surroundings.

Apart from providing amazing health benefits for your body, it also helps toward your mental state.

Being out on the water and a part of nature really does ground you and stimulates the mind, helping with many mental health problems such as depression.

So let’s break this down and delve in a little deeper to see why exactly kayaking is good exercise.

Here I have listed 15 incredible health benefits that can help towards your fitness goals, whether it be:

  • Weight loss
  • Build muscle
  • Tone
  • Improve cardio
  • Improve stamina

Improves cardiovascular system

Your cardiovascular system is an organ system that allows blood to circulate and transport essential nutrients around the body.

One of the main nutrients it transports is oxygen.

Oxygen is needed in order for your organs to function properly.

So, how does kayaking benefit this?

When you’re kayaking, you’re using every muscle group the body has. These muscles groups need oxygen to keep working and performing well.

By kayaking, your cardiovascular system needs to speed up to deliver these essential nutrients all over the body and with consistent use, you will be able to kayak longer and faster with less effort.

Weight loss

If you’re out kayaking consistently, it will most certainly aid in weight loss.

As your body is literally using every muscle it has, it means it must generate more power to each muscle to allow them to work effectively, which burns off energy (Calories).

Depending on your weight, a good hour of kayaking can burn anywhere between 280-500 calories.

For example, someone that weighs in at 12 ½ stone can be expected to burn around 307 calories per hour.

It all comes down to the higher the body weight the more energy expenditure there is which equates to greater weight loss.

Increased muscle Strength

So as explained already, you use every major muscle group when out on the water kayaking.

The reasoning behind this is what’s called ‘Progressive Overload’.

So, what is ‘Progressive Overload’ exactly?

This is when you put stress or ‘overload’ on the muscles.

When kayaking, your muscles are constantly activated, battling against the resistance of the water (unless you’re having a rest) and with this constant time under tension (TUT), your muscles need to grow to be able to handle this pressure the next time.

It’s simply down to evolution!

Core strength

Amazing for really working your core!

You would be surprised how much you use your core when kayaking.

Even though it just looks like your sitting there and barely moving, your core is getting some workout.

It’s down to the subtle twists and turns your core makes when paddling left, right or even faster.

As your body is locked into position when kayaking, the resilience and strength mainly comes from the core that gives you that jolt forward when paddling

Trust me; you’ll be sore after a day of kayaking….but a good sore!

Ab definition

Time to develop that six pack!

So, we’ve seen that kayaking benefits the core – making it stronger

With a stronger core, you will no doubt begin to see definition

As said, with the constant turning and driving forward motion, your abdominal muscles (abs) begin to tone.

Mix that with the weight loss that comes from this sport and boom…..abs of a god or goddess!

Strength in arms

This should be an obvious one

With constant pressure of the water resistance or time under tension, the rotation of the arms when paddling…..it’s clear to see how your arms are getting a proper workout!

The arms are elevated most of the time when paddling and this makes the muscles work harder to really push through the water’s surface to keep you moving forward.

You’ll have arms like Arnie soon after!

Strength in Shoulders

As I said, when you’re paddling your arms are elevated almost for the full duration of your kayaking.

So even though it looks like your arms are doing most of the work, it’s your shoulders that are keeping them elevated the entire time.

With the mixture of this elevation and the rotation of the arms, the shoulders are toning and getting stronger on each stroke of the water your take.

Strength in chest

As the shoulders are connected to the chest and the chest is connected to your core, you can begin to see how the main muscle groups are working in harmony with one another to achieve 1 goal in the blink of an eye….to perform a single stroke through the water.

The chest is one of the larger muscle groups and can really build muscle here as it’s activated the entire time you are kayaking.

Leg strength

Probably considered one of the less used muscles in kayaking

But boy would you be wrong!

Your legs play a crucial role in being able to kayak effectively.

From an outsider’s perspective, it can look like your legs are just lazing around inside the kayak but it wouldn’t be any further from the truth.

Your legs are what gives you your stability and power to able to fight against the waters’ resistance.

Your legs have massive tension in them when you’re really paddling hard. With every stroke, your leg on the corresponding side is fully activated and engaged to keep you and the kayak pushing forward and well-balanced.

It’ll make sitting down on the toilet the day after a chore.

Check out some tips on how to kayak effortlessly here

Increases Stamina

It’s basically like doing anything repeatedly, your body begins to adapt to it.

As you kayak more often and with consistency, your stamina will be begin to increase.

You’ll be able to handle the kayak better, stay strong in your core and legs and paddle faster and for longer.

This in turn reflects into other areas of your life or other sports your take part in.

Dose of Vitamin D

Probably one of the most essential vitamins we lack in, especially here in Ireland!

It’s hard to get enough Vitamin D from our food so what’s the answer?

By getting outside and into the sun, that’s what!

The sun produces masses amounts of Vitamin D that our skin is able to absorb to keep our bodies functioning properly.

And sure, what’s better than getting out onto the open water and soaking in those rays!

Just remember though to apply sun cream.

We just want the Vitamin D so let’s not get carried away!

Mental Health

Another huge health benefit and one that isn’t recognised too often is our mental health.

The mental health stigma is still lurking in the shadows and is a shame to be quite honest.

People need to be able to show that it’s okay not to be okay!

So how exactly can kayaking benefit your own mental health?

Trust me on this; once you’re out on the open water, hearing the waves lightly hit off the side of your kayak and feel that constant rocking motion of the water.

You’ll begin to feel much better, not only for the exercise that it provides to drive essential oxygen to feed your brain but you’ll feel connected with nature again.

I do honestly believe kayaking is a natural remedy!

Reduce Stress

Too much stress on anyone can be very harmful.

Stress has been scientifically linked to heart attacks, chest problems, anxiety and panic attacks.

The human body can only handle so much stress before it begins to go downhill.

Kayaking is an excellent solution to this very common problem and for 2 reasons.

Firstly, it’s a great exercise for the entire body and helps to work out all the stress and tension you may have.

And secondly, being out in the great outdoors really does clear your mind and provides an overwhelming sense of calmness and freedom.

Increases social circle

You may not see this one as a health benefit but let’s look at it closely.

Meeting new people equals new friendships which equals to having similar interests, sharing thoughts, ideas and opinions with which equals to happiness.

Humans have evolved in their nature to be social beings. We need to be with other humans to achieve certain levels of happiness.

So, kayaking is a great way to meet new people whether you take a class or even join with some other like-minded kayakers.

Makes you happier

Being happy is what life is all about is it not?

Kayaking makes you happy because as your body is paddling, working those muscles, relieving any stress, your brain begins to release endorphins.

What are endorphins?

They are the body’s natural happy pill!

Any form of activity or exercise will release endorphins making you feel a lot happier and content but I believe kayaking is probably one of the best as you can experience all the natural scenery around you.

So wrapping everything up, you now have a good, clear picture of how kayaking is good exercise, not only for the body but also for the mind.

If you’re consistent with it and keep at it, you will notice massive changes in your body shape and feel more positive in your own mind.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to drop me a comment and I’ll get back to you.

8 comments Add yours
  1. I have always been fascinated by kayaks, but have not moved towards learning how to. I swim very poorly and admit a pretty strong fear of drowning LOL! My son and his girlfriend have talked about getting kayaks, one for each. My son says he doesn’t want to share a kayak with anyone, wants to be in control of his own boat! I suppose he must be referring to 2 person kayaks? I think his girlfriend wanted to share one with him 🙂  They do look like a lot of fun and a great workout! Getting back to swimming, is being a strong swimmer a prerequisite?

    1. Hi Madeleine,

      Your son sounds much like myself when I was younger lol. More than likely it seems like he’s after a single person kayak if he wants full control of his own kayak. 

      No, you don’t necessarily need to be a good swimmer to go kayaking. When your kayaking anyway, you’ll  be wearing your lifejacket so you’ll be totally fine. Check my post about it here:https://campkayakcanoe.com/kay

  2. Hi

    I would never have thought of kayaking as an exercise and it just shows how narrow-minded one can be…sometimes, not all the time lol.

    This post is definitely an eye-opener on kayaking and it’s health benefits and what I like is that you get outdoors and away from the indoor gyms to get that much needed exercise. And I’m really surprised by how beneficial it actually is.

    Thank you guys, I enjoyed reading it and maybe I will start kayaking.

    1. It really is Nicolaas, it’s gets you away from the same mundane gym workout and is a lot of fun! You really should take it up, you won’t look back! Promise!

  3. Awesome post! Kayaking always looked like such fun (except for the part where you turn upside down and have to flip the kayak!). I never knew that it involved using your leg muscles though! Now that I have adopted a healthier lifestyle than before (healthy diet and some walking and running). I think I should add to the list.

    The way you describe Kayaking makes it sound even more enticing. I think everyone needs to more activities that can benefit your body and mind simultaneously. This post has truly made me want to at least try it out for myself!

    Thanks for the motivation.

    1. Hi Renton,

      Thank you, give the kayaking a go! It is seriously great for both your body and mind. I know capsizing a kayak cane seem scary but it is actually quite to easy to escape from. The overall benefits your body will get from kayaking is incredible. You’ll lose weight, tone up, have a sharper mind and sleep like a log. Give it a go! 

  4. Great article, I usually regard Kayaking as just my hobby, never did I knew it has a vast of benefits like this. Its even more interesting to note that Kayaking can strengthen leg muscles. I naturally have weak legs, would you advise me to depend on Kayaking for strong legs? 

    I rarely go to a gym or do exercises, so if Kayaking have such great a contribution to my health, then I will never worry about visiting a gym one day.

    Thank you so much for a great article

    1. Hi Ngonidzashe,

      Kayaking is absolutely ideal to increase leg strength and muscle tone. If you find this is an area you may be weak on, kayaking will definitely help with it. 

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