Is Kayaking Good Exercise? – 10 Benefits of Kayaking on Body & Mind
Exercise and fun don’t always go together. However, there are instances when the two overlap. One of such instances is kayaking, a wonderful sport that’s good for your body and mind.
When kayaking, you can picture the beautiful scenery around you as your fitness center and the paddling motion your workout regime. And regardless of how fast or slow you are paddling, you will always get more than a decent amount of exercise done when paddling. I’m sure you don’t really count paddling on a calm evening and enjoying the beauty of nature as a workout. But it totally is!
There are many benefits of kayaking and I’ll discuss some of them. Continue reading to learn more about the benefits of kayaking.
1. It’s a Full Body Workout
The cat is out of the bag. Kayaking is a full body workout that engages your entire body. It’s easy to think of kayaking as just an upper-body workout since the arms are mostly involved with paddling. However, paddling will also engage your leg, back, and torso especially when done right. Even the most basic forward stroke will engage several muscles in your body making paddling a true total body workout. Your legs and glutes aren’t left out as the pressure you apply on your foot braces means your leg muscles also engage in the workout.
There aren’t many sports that manage to engage your entire body while being completely fun. Kudos to kayaking, haha.
2. It Helps You Lose Weight (Burns Calories)
Traditional methods of losing weight through exercise involve running or jogging. But these can stop being fun quickly. And this is where kayaking comes in as you can lose as much as 500 calories per hour kayaking depending on your speed.
Yes, the rate of calories burnt per hour during kayaking isn’t as impressive as running or jogging. But when you consider that most people typically paddle for a couple of hours, kayaking becomes a fun and effective way to burn calories.
So if you are looking to shed excess weight or get that bikini body, take a look at kayaking. Losing weight isn’t exactly a walk in the park but kayaking can play a part in achieving your goal all while you are having a good time.
3. It’s a Low-Impact Sport
One of the reasons behind the popularity of kayaking is the fact that it’s a low-impact sport and as a result, is easy on the joints. You get to achieve a full body workout, improve your aerobic strength, develop your core, and even burn down some calories without excess wear and tear that typically happens with most forms of workouts.
People of all ages can participate in kayaking because of this regardless of current fitness levels or pre-existing conditions or injuries. You can even cut out unnecessary stress on your elbows and shoulders by using a pedal kayak. You’ll find more information about pedal kayaks and the best pedal kayaks available on the market in the kayaking section.
I’m sure you’ve seen several elderly people on the water gently paddling their vessels and having a nice time on the water. They get to exercise their body and mind while limiting impacts on their joints which is necessary because of their age.
4. It’s a Good Cardio Workout
Kayaking gets your blood flowing and is good for your cardiovascular health. The short also strengthens your heart and improves its ability to regulate circulation as well as pump blood. Also, more red blood cells are produced which is good for you and the risks of cardiovascular diseases are greatly reduced.
Of course, you’ll have to put in some effort to get a good cardio workout through kayaking. And the good thing about kayaking is that you can go as fast or slow as you want. So you can speed up your paddling and turn down the pace to suit your fitness goals or for your enjoyment.
5. Kayaking Improves Upper Body Muscular Strength
If you go kayaking regularly, it’s only a matter of time before you notice the improvement in your upper body muscles. First, you’ll see that your arms look bigger and firm.
There’s a reason Olympic kayaking participants have bulky and firm-looking arms. Yes, you’re not likely to reach their level but you’ll definitely notice an improvement in the size and strength of your arms as you get to work on both your biceps and triceps.
Your shoulders won’t be left behind too and don’t be surprised when you start noticing the first sign of well-defined abs or a six-pack after you take up kayaking. Now, I’m sure that caught your attention. As it should.
6. It’s a Good Source of Vitamin D
Vitamin D, dubbed the sunshine vitamin, is produced when your body is exposed to sunlight. This vitamin has several functions such as facilitating immune response, regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, reducing depression, and boosting weight loss.
Vitamin D deficiency is very common and the deficiency of this very important vitamin has been linked to conditions such as obesity, hypertension, chronic fatigue, diabetes, and so on. Yet, the best way to get this vitamin is from exposure to sunlight as there’s enough vitamin D in our diet. Another alternative is to use supplements.
So when you go kayaking, you get exposed to sunlight which in turns makes your body produce vitamin D. However, you shouldn’t limit your exposure to the sun for more than 20 minutes, after which you should put some waterproof sunscreen on.
7. It Relieves Stress
The modern world we live in is not without stress. Our body can only handle so much stress because its effect starts to set in. Chronic stress can affect your mood and mental health. Also, it increases one’s susceptibility to diseases.
Kayaking can help get rid of stress. Everything about kayaking is relaxing, from the cold breeze to the incredible scenery around you. There’s also this feeling of relaxation that comes from being on the water and you get to escape from our stressful world for a couple of hours.
There’s no loud music or crowd. The only sounds you hear are those of nature such as the gentle flow of water, your paddle cutting through the water, or birds humming beautiful melodies.
8. It Improves Your Mood, Self Esteem, and Self Confidence
Exercise, especially outdoor exercise, is a great way to improve mood. People who exercise regularly have fewer signs of depression and anxiety than those who don’t.
When you go kayaking, your body releases mood-improving chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. And beyond all that, you get distracted from your worries and negative thoughts.
You feel more in control and can even put things into perspective during the sport. Your self-esteem and confidence skyrocket and you see things in a whole new light. Things like improving your paddling technique or noticing the positive changes of kayaking on your body are bound to improve the way you perceive yourself.
9. It Helps You Meet New Friends
Kayaking provides you with the opportunity to meet new friends. And the good news is that you and your friends can bond over your shared love for kayaking.
You can even check if there are paddling clubs in your area and who knows, a paddling club may provide you with social interactions you never realized you needed.
10. It Improves Your Sleep
Kayaking can improve the quality of sleep especially for those that find it difficult to sleep at night. But when you kayak during the day, you’ll find it easier to sleep at night partly because you’ve been exhausted, depending on how hard and long you paddle, and also because your brain would have released chemicals that will make you sleep better.
When you take up the next morning, you’ll feel refreshed and well-rested.
There are many benefits to kayaking that makes the sport even more enticing to those already in love with it. For those that are yet to start kayaking, you should consider giving the sport a try.
I must emphasize the need for beginner paddlers to take things slow and easy to not exceed their limits. Ease yourself into kayaking as exceeding your physical limits isn’t going to do you any good. Your strength and endurance will improve over time and you can go as fast as you want.
If you have any underlying medical conditions, have a chat with your doctor before you go kayaking. Your doctor will tell you if you should go kayaking and how long you should paddle.