Kayaking for the Health Benefits

Most of us do not get into kayaking for the health benefits. Let me tell you though, from a personal stand point, there are a lot of health benefits associated with the sport of kayaking. No matter what type of kayaking you are into.

Let us break this down a bit and you will see what I am talking about.

Let’s Get Physical

Most of us think that getting exercise or getting physically fit requires a gym or a regimented program. I personally am not a gym rat, nor do I want to be.

I love hiking outdoors and taking a stroll along the lake. Beats a treadmill every time.

What’s that have to do with kayaking you ask?

Well, think about that awful rowing machine at the gym. You sit on that man-made contraption and row till your arms fall off and all you see are the same four walls where you started.

Now, equate that rowing machine to a kayak. Launch that fine little boat into the river, lake or stream and grab your paddle, a bottle of water, maybe a healthy snack and just imagine the scenery you are going to see. Don’t forget your life jacket, just in case you end up in the water for a swim.

Kayaking has many physical benefits. You are going to work your arms, your legs, your core, your shoulders, and I’m sure there are a few other muscles in there that you don’t even know you have. You will after you get done though.

What Muscles Are Used During Kayaking

As I mentioned above you will use many muscles while you kayak. As a 51 yr. young woman, I enjoy the fact that kayaking is a low-impact sport. Unlike running, kayaking is relatively easy on my knees, hips and other joints that are not as young as they used to be.

Although, it is important to learn to do it with proper form. We do not want to do more damage than good. Check out my post about “Proper Posture” to gain the best benefits from you kayaking experience.

The main muscles used are as follows

Core Muscles – Abdomen, Obliques and Lower Back

Arms and Shoulders – Biceps, Triceps, Deltoid muscle (Rear, Lateral and Anterior) and your Forearms

Chest – Pectoral

Back – Lats and Rhomboids

You will also use your legs to a certain degree to brace yourself on the sides of the kayak when paddling. Thus, giving you a bit of a leg workout.

5 Key Physical Benefits

  1. Weight loss – This one is quite obvious. The more quality physical activity we do, along with reducing our calorie intake can reduce weight.
  2. Muscle Toning and Building – Again, kind of a no brainer. If you apply resistance (water), as with weight training, in a gym you can tone and strengthen your muscles. Since kayaking uses so many, just think of all that you will be achieving, if done on a regular basis.
  3. Improves Cardiovascular Health – Anytime you get your heart rate up for any period of time, it strengthens the heart muscle. Not a bad thing, and kayaking is certainly more fun than running on a treadmill.
  4. More Energy – It has been documented by many medical and health related sources that anytime you increase your activity levels, even with moderate intensity exercise, like kayaking, you can reduce fatigue and boost energy.
  5. Great Source of Vitamin D – I read that it’s estimated that 45%-75% of people are deficient in vitamin D. We do not get enough in the foods we eat, but isn’t it awesome that our bodies can produce it from sunshine. So, get out in the sun!

Let’s Talk Mental Benefits of Kayaking

You ask, how is this going to help me mentally?

For anyone that suffers from stress, fatigue, unhappiness, loneliness, lack of confidence, and the list goes on. One of the best things you can do for yourself is get outside, get close to nature, do something that helps build your confidence. Believe me I can really relate to those that have these issues.

As a teenager I was pretty fearless and had enough confidence for many people. I was going to take on the world. I rode horses, was athletic, slender and in pretty good shape. As I have grown older and have had children, my body has changed and so has my health and confidence levels. I went from being fearless to fearful about a lot of things. So I understand the mental anguish some folks go through.

Kayaking has helped me be a bit more confident. My first trip out on the lake just about made me throw-up. I was by myself, on a lake full of boaters and I had never been on a kayak. I crossed the lake/river and went up a small tributary. This is where I fell in love with my little red boat. The peace of floating up that little stream surrounded by birds, turtles and trees was just amazing. Now when I go out I do not fear being out there alone, I look forward to it.

7 Mental Benefits to Think About

  1. Helps Reduce Stress – Unplug (don’t check social media, leave the TV), Only use your phone for pictures or emergencies. Get your heart rate up, exercise can help reduce stress. Let your mind be quiet.
  2. Feel Happier – Just being out in nature improves my mood. Nothing makes me happier than the sunshine on my face.
  3. Improved Focus – Due to the release of certain things in your system during exercise, such as serotonin, dopamine, and nor epinephrine, helps your brain focus and attention.
  4. Improved Memory – Exercise and increased activity releases chemicals that help the health and production of brain cells.
  5. Improves Sleep – The exercise that you get while kayaking helps to reduce stress and it tires us out. Thus, helping us to fall asleep better at night.
  6. Boosts Self Confidence – This was a big one for me. Anytime you do something new and accomplish a victory, no matter how small, it boosts your confidence. Accept the challenge! It is worth it.
  7. Social Bonding – Find a group that is doing what you want to do. There are groups that get together on a regular basis and do float trips, go fishing, etc. Have fun with it and make new friends.

Paddle Your Stress Away

Now that you know about all the great health benefits of kayaking, I challenge you to get out there and enjoy yourselves. If you need a kayak buddy look me up! Let me know in the comments how your kayaking adventures are going. I would love to hear your stories.

Until next time!

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14 thoughts on “Kayaking for the Health Benefits”

  1. Hi! Thank you for your sharing. I didn’t know that Kayaking has so many health benefits to physical and mental too. After a deeper thought, I think I can understand why it has so much benefits. Because we are out in the nature! Nature has the best energy that work best to the mental…:-)

  2. I totally agree with your points. Kayaking is definitely very good for us. I also think gyms are boring and also don’t have all the benefits of outdoor activities. I read this article since I was curious about kayaking. I would like to start to do this activity since I find it beautiful, also because I love nature. Which would be the best way to approach kayaking for a beginner? Are there any models of kayak that are easier than others to start with?
    Thanks for your help.
    I wish you the best.

    • Thank you Andrea for your comments and I am pleased to hear that you are interested in getting started. The first thing you must do is decide what kind of kayaking you are really interested in. Go back and read my first two posts. They will help you to determine the type of kayak you may be looking for. I personally like the sit-on top style as I enjoy fishing as well. Hope this helps and keep in touch with your progress and journey.

  3. Oh how I love the occasional ride in the kayak. Don’t own my own but have access to several. It is soothing to me. I just moved to a larger community that has several rivers winding in, around and through that is always got people kayaking. There is even a business that will rent you a kayak, and take you up river and drop you off at certain spots depending on how long you want to go for. It’s great for me because I live in an apartment and this way I don’t need to own a kayak. I thoroughly enjoyed this post.

    • Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my post. I am so glad you enjoyed it and I am thrilled that you also like to kayak. It truelly is a way to chill and desress.

  4. Hi,

    Great post, I really like the way you have enunciated the mental and health benefits of kayaking. I had a quick questions:
    Canoeing and kayaking are the same as they are often used interchangeably ?
    The risks of sea kayaking call for extra safety equipment? What would you recommend as a basic kit for for canoeing and kayaking?

    Would love to hear from you on the same…

    • As a beginner myself, I am still learning what the must haves are. For me at this stage I highly reccommend a good life preserver, the right paddle, a way to carry personals (dry bag), such as your cell phone, camera, personal ID, etc., and always take a bottle of water and a snack. You never know what may happen, especially if you are out alone. I am sure my list will grow as I become more knowledgeable. Thank you for reading and please feel free to add new items as you progress on your journey.

  5. I love kayaking, and am totally on your side – exercising outdoors like hiking and kayaking is 100 times better than working out in the gym. And so many other amazing health benefits! Thanks for sharing.


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