Kayaking for the Health Benefits – Physical and Mental

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!

Choose The Right Kayak Paddle

The most important accessories you can purchase for your kayak is the paddle. No one wants to be up the creek without a paddle, if you know what I mean. So, we are going to look at how to choose the right kayak paddle for you.

Here is a beautiful graphic to help you visualize the different steps of choosing a paddle. For more detailed info, read the entire article below.

How to Size and Choose a Kayak Paddle
Courtesy of Outventurist.com

Let’s Talk Length

Okay, let’s talk about length. Does length really matter? Well, I guess that depends on whether you are trying to retrieve your favorite fishing lure or not, or trying to get your friend wet while staying relatively dry.

All kidding aside, length is kind of important. Take for instance, if you are 6′ tall and your kayak is 2′ wide you certainly would not want a 5′ paddle. Length plays into the amount of energy you are going to expel paddling, how much strain you are putting on your back and shoulder muscles and how efficiently you move through the water.

So here are a few simple but easy guidelines. The wider your kayak is the longer your paddle needs to be. Your height also needs to be taken into consideration. Typically, paddles are measured in centimeters, although boats are measured in inches. Also, the type of paddling you are going to do will determine the length of paddle. There are two types of strokes. You have the Low Angle Stroke and the High Angle Stroke. The low angle stroke requires a longer paddle, versus the shorter length for the high angle stroke.


                                            Low Angle Chart                                                                               

Paddler Height      Boat Width      Paddle Length 

5′-0″ – 5′-10″        21″- 23″         220 cm (7′-2″)

5′-6″ – 6′-2″         23″ – 26″       230 cm (7′-6″)

Over 6′-3″                Over 25″        240 cm (7′-10″)

                                             High Angle Chart

Paddler Height     Boat Width     Paddle Length

5′-0″ – 5’10”         Under 22″       210 cm (6′-10″)

5′-6″ – 6′-2″         22″ – 23″        215 cm (7′-0″)

Over 6′-3″            23″ – 24″         220 cm (7′-2″)

The chart above is just a basic guide for touring and recreational style paddles. I also converted the metric lengths to an approximate USA Imperial conversion. I know for myself, converting metric in my head doesn’t work. If you are looking for a paddle to go white water kayaking, you are going to look into smaller lengths. The average length for a white water paddle is 60″. The shorter lengths are not as cumbersome when dealing with twists and turns in the river.

How About Materials

Paddles are composed of a couple of basic materials. All of which lend to weight, durability, price and performance.

The blades can be made of plastic/nylon, fiberglass, or carbon-fiber. Plastic also known as the polymer/polypropylene and plastic blends are typically the lowest on the price range. So, they tend to be the most popular with the recreational kayakers. These paddles can be slightly heavier and may not perform quite as well as some of their counterparts.

The “middle of the road” in price point tend to be the fiberglass blades. They are also durable and effective on performance as well as lighter than the plastic. While they can chip, they are not prone to cracking all the way through as can sometimes happen with the plastic.

If you are willing to pay for the top of the line, look at the carbon-fiber blades. They are ultra light, durable and provide the best performance with each stroke.

Shafts are primarily made of aluminum, fiberglass or carbon-fiber. Plastic shafts are rare and really would not be worth the money in my opinion.

Aluminum, while it tends to be the less expensive has some cons. They can get hot in hot weather or cold in cold weather. You may want to invest in some gloves. Also, they not going to be as light as the fiberglass and carbon-fiber.

The fiberglass and carbon-fiber shafts are durable and perform very well when paired with either one of the lighter options of blades. You won’t be sorry you paid a little extra.

Did You Know

First of all, did you have any idea that there was so much that went into buying a paddle? Me either!

After doing the research and reading about all the paddle options, I was kind of blown away. Being a beginner myself, I am learning a ton about the basics of kayaking. Makes me want to go to my local sporting goods store and compare some of the different styles available out there.

My paddle is the basic aluminum shaft with plastic dihedral blade. It is a bit heavy and cumbersome when I am fishing. Now mine does break into two pieces which is very convenient for transporting and packing away. In my research I have also seen some that break down into 4 pieces.

And Just When You Thought You Were Done

I just kept diving into my research and here is where I found out that there are also bent shaft type paddles, wider blades, narrower blades, and fishing blades. I am definitely going to have to look for these. Any time you can find something to help you retrieve a lost fishing lure, you must have it, right?

Then there are also different blade shapes. There is the spoon and dihedral. Dihedral being the most comfortable of the two shapes and used primarily for low angle paddling. Spoon shaped paddles are used more for shorter more powerful strokes. You also have the option of asymmetrical, and symmetrical blades. So many options to consider.

Importance of Paddles

The one thing I did learn was the importance of finding the right paddle. Some of the cons of not having the right paddle are not being able to reach the water without bending over, banging your knuckles on the sides of the kayak, sore muscles due to excessive weight and working way too hard to get somewhere. While some of these may seem minor, just wait till you have to rub your whole body with icy hot to relieve the muscle aches. Just saying!

I hope the information I have provided here helps, I know I am going to be shopping for something a little lighter myself!

Happy Shopping You All, till next time!

Kayak Types and Styles – Lots of Variety

Well Hello!

Let’s find out what kind of kayak types and styles are out there. I have an Ascend D10T model. It is a sit-on top style and is 10′ long and weighs about 65 lbs. Oh, and it is bright red. Just thought I would throw that in there. Cause you know color matters.

How Many Types Could There Be

Oh My Goodness, This is where it gets crazy. From my research on the world wide web, I have discovered that there are varying opinions on this. According to the American Kayak Association there are basically two categories of kayaks. There are flat water kayaks and white water kayaks. So, this is what we are going to base our research on.

Flat Water Kayaks

Flat water kayaks are the primary kayaks that you will find in your local sporting goods store or Walmart. There are basically 5 types of flat water kayaks.

  • Recreational
  • Sit-on Top
  • Inflatable
  • Pedaling
  • Touring

Recreational Kayaks:

These are probably the most common and by far the most popular kayaks on the market. I was just in Walmart and by golly they have theirs on display for spring already. These kayaks typically have a closed cockpit, meaning you sit down in them. The opening is usually large enough to get in easily and depending on the size of the occupants, you could probably put a small child in with you or your favorite fur baby. They come in a variety of colors and are affordable. Made from an in-expensive polyethylene, they tend to be fairly lightweight and budget friendly. This makes them a great choice for beginners. Recreational kayaks are typically between 8 to 11 feet in length and have minimal accessories available. Probably wouldn’t use them on open water, but they work great on the lake or in the gentle flowing stream.

Sit-on Top Kayaks:

This is what I have. They tend to be much heavier, as they are a solid, molded piece of plastic. They are self draining, which is convenient and they are easy to get into to. If by chance you happen to flip over, they are a little easier to get right in the water. These tend to be a little wider than some of the others, so they tend to be pretty stable in the water when encountering waves from passing boats on the lake or pulling in a large fish. I love mine, as it is easy to fish on and it is easy to pack gear on. It makes for easy access to my tackle box. I will say, that with no cockpit, you will get a little wet while paddling. Not a bad thing on a hot day, but I have yet to go out on the lake in the colder weather. I am kind of a wimp. So again, budget friendly depending on manufacturer and easy for beginners.

Inflatable Kayaks:

So there are a lot of opinions about these on the web. Some love the diversity of them for their lightweight, storage capabilities and over-all convenience. Some are not impressed with their maneuverability in the water during breezy days, over-all durability and comfort. I will say that I personally have not used one, but have looked at them many times. I think if you were to look seriously at one of these for purchase, cheaper would probably not be better. I would not want to be on a river float and pop my kayak. That would be a bummer!

Pedaling Kayaks:

This is kind of a dream kayak for me. I saw one on the lake a few times and fell in love with the idea of having my hands free for other things. Besides the fishing I also haul my camera around with me for that occasional, once in a lifetime, wildlife moment. These are more expensive and tend to be a bit cumbersome to haul around, especially if you are by yourself. From my research, several of the models are heavy, the pedal mechanisms need regular maintenance, and can be tricky to learn how to maneuver. So, probably not for a beginner.

Touring Kayaks:

Last, but not least, we come to the touring kayaks. These are longer usually 12′ or longer and much narrower than the recreational kayaks. These can be much harder to come by. Not usually found at the local sporting store or Walmart. They are more specialized, thus much more expensive. Generally used for large bodies of open water and going long distances. They can be quite hard to store due to length and hard to manage. Not good for smaller variety rivers and creeks due to their length and maneuverability. Great for speed and hauling enough supplies for several days of paddling.

White Water Kayaks

So according to the American Kayak Association there a 5 main styles of white water kayaks.

  • Play boats
  • River Runners
  • Creek boats
  • Old School
  • Inflatable (Duckies)

Play boats:

These are small, usually only about 6′ and are primarily used for going to a favorite spot where you can play in the waves of turbulent water. Not really good for paddling down a river for any length of time. They are great for doing tricks, but uncomfortable when traveling from spot to spot.

River Runners:

These are longer, usually 7-8′ long and track better for paddling those flat areas on the river in between fun spots. They are long enough to store gear and are more comfortable. These can also be easy enough to maneuver around turns and bends in the river.

Creek boats:

Also known as Creekers, these are typically 8′ or longer. They are built a little sturdier to handle those drops and are pretty comfortable from what I have read. They do have two basic hull types, a displacement hull and a planning hull. Beginners should pay attention to that as it could be tricky in holes and crossing eddy lines in a displacement hull. Now, I am basing this on my research and not my personal experience. So, I am sure there are differing opinions on what’s best.

Old School:

Also known as Long Boats. The name says it all. These were made in the late 80s and 90s and can be found on a lot of used sites. You can pick them up relatively inexpensively and be ready to go pretty quickly. They are usually much longer, (10-12 feet), than modern day boats and have narrower cockpits. This can be great if you run rivers with long stretches of flat water in between rapids. Can be tricky though in the turns.

Inflatable Duckies:

This one just makes me smile. How could you not like something called a Duckie? These are nothing like the inflatable kayaks used on flat water. These vessels are made out of very durable materials, as they are subjected to various types of extreme conditions. Unlike the flat water inflatables that can be as low as $50, these guys are going to start in the hundreds and work their way up. From what I have researched there are several options out there and boy, do they look fun.

Fishing Kayaks

So these guys are kind of in a class of their own. While many folks, myself included, purchase basic recreational kayaks and use them to fish from, fishing kayaks have a few more bells and whistles when it comes to accessories and set-up. They come in both the sit-in and the sit-on styles. The sit-on styles are preferred, as they allow the angler freedom of movement and access to the gear. Some of these can be geared to handle fish finders, trolling motors, plus all your necessary fishing gear. You can find them at most places that you can get a recreational kayak, but the more elaborate you go the more you are going to break the budget.

Let’s Wrap it Up

All of these styles have pros and cons. It is just a matter of which one will suit your needs the best. Whether it be length, budget, style or color. Cause again, color matters. Thanks for joining me again on learning about these kayak types and styles. Who knew there was so much to learn, and wow the options are endless!

So, Until me meet again!

Kayaking Basics for Beginners – Where to start

Hey, Thanks for accompanying me on my journey into the realm of kayaking.

Where do we start?

In this post we are going to go start with the kayaking basics for beginners. What’s that mean? Well, for me, that means:

  • Deciding why we want to take up kayaking
  • Choosing the proper kayak for our needs
  • Choosing the right accessories to get us started
  • How much do we want to spend

These are just a few things we want to think about as beginners.

Why Do You Want A Kayak

Why are you looking for a kayak?

kayaking_for_beginners

Here are a few examples of reasons to get a kayak. I am sure there are many more.

  • Fishing
  • Getting closer to nature/exploration
  • Competition
  • Shooting the rapids
  • Exercise

My story starts after I moved to Branson, Missouri. I was staying in campground right on Lake Taneycomo, which by the way, is filled with trout. I have always loved fishing, and had grown up doing so. Although, I hadn’t done any fishing in years and I had never done any trout fishing.

Anyway, I had taken a job at the Bass Pro shop next to the campground, thus, I was surrounded by all those outdoorsy folks and fishing equipment.

Long story short, I ended up with my fishing license and a fishing pole. As I learned to fish for trout from the bank, I soon realized I needed to get out in the water a little more.

I had been on larger boats, but living in a RV full-time, buying a pontoon boat was not really an option. I entertained the idea of a kayak, as they are small, manageable for one person and mobile. Then I realized there are a multitude of different styles, sizes, and functionalities in the world of kayaks. Who knew!

I started looking at them a little more diligently and soon found several co-workers that had a little knowledge of them. Then by happenstance I was fortunate enough to win a contest at work, and guess what? The prize was a kayak. My very own red kayak, with paddle. Thus, my journey begins!

My first reason for wanting one was for the fishing. That would soon change and expand.

What Kind of Kayak Do You Need

What are you going to do with your kayak?

Photo by Richard Dudley

This will surely impact your decision on the style of kayak and how much you are going to spend on one. There are so many styles out there and they have different functions and price points. Not to mention weight considerations.

I am a larger person, so I definitely wanted one that would not sink with me in it. Fortunately, the one I won at work would do the trick in this category. The one I have is an Ascend D10T model. It is a sit-on top type of kayak, which I do prefer. Don’t like the idea of being stuck in it if I tip over.

If you are just out to have fun, get closer to nature and float down a few streams and lazy rivers your choices are wide. You can get a basic sit-in style kayak just about anywhere these days. Any where from Tractor Supply, Walmart and even Amazon, just to name a few.

Of course, there are the more well-known sporting stores like Cabelas, Bass Pro and Academy, where you can also go for some advice on your purchase. Kayaks come in many styles. Everything from inflatable, sit-in, sit-on, fishing kayaks, wooden kayaks, plastic kayaks, and poly kayaks. So many options! They also come in varying lengths, from 6′ youth on up to 14′.

Image by Paul Brennan

If you are looking to do some fishing, you may want to choose a fishing style kayak. Although, I have met folks that buy a basic kayak and do everything they want with them. It really is a personal choice.

Obviously, if you are looking to shoot the rapids in a rushing river, go out to sea or compete in races, you are going to want to look a little deeper into the choices out there. For the purpose of this article though, we are just focusing on the basics.

What Do You Need To Get on the Water

Well, after you have decided on the kayak that fits you, you are going to need some basic accessories.

Safety first and foremost. A life jacket is a must. I am a really good swimmer, but I would never consider going out on the river without a jacket or some type PFD (personal flotation device).

Again, the style is a personal choice and they range in price and styles. I personally bought a regular standard PFD that was made for use in kayaks. They are made a little different from a standard PFD, as you are sitting really low in a kayak. Also, you want to be comfortable. So try them on before you buy one.

Photo By Denise Hunter

Next you will need a paddle. You certainly do not want to end up “up the creek without a paddle”. Not all kayaks come with them, depending on where you purchase your kayak. They do come in different lengths. So, choose one that fits you. I have a longer one, and I really like it. My kayak is a little wider than most, so the shorter ones don’t work as well.

Image by David Nisley

Although, it is not necessary for getting out on the water, a nice accessory to have is a dry bag. This is a bag made to keep personal items, such as your cell phone, wallet, etc., dry while out on the water. I wouldn’t go without mine, as I carry my phone with me at all times in case of emergency.

What’s This Going To Cost

Photo by Sufi Nawaz

Again, as a beginner, I discovered that the price of a kayak can range from a couple of hundred dollars to a couple of thousand dollars.

Of course, you could always embark on searching out a used kayak, there are some great deals out there if you look for them. Fortunately, I did win mine, so technically I did not pay for mine.

The retail price of mine was about $450. The paddle would have been about $50. Ultimately, I ended up paying $200 to replace the back glass on my pick-up from when my husband picked the kayak up to take it home. That my friends is a whole other story!

Needless to say, the cost is going to be dependent on your personal budget.

Let’s Get on the Water

So here are a few of the basics to getting started on your kayak journey. We talked about the why, the what for and the essentials or bare basics.

We touched a bit on the budget. So are you ready to go on a journey to find your dream kayak? If not, that is okay. Keep checking back for more information about my personal journey and we will delve a little deeper into the kayak world.

Till Next Time!

About Me

Hello Everyone, and thank you for joining me here on my Kayak Adventures website. I started this website to share my journey into the world of kayaking and to help those of you that have always wanted to try it out to have the courage to go for it. Also, those of you that have been kayaking for a while, join me on this adventure to learn more about the wonderful places you can go and the fun accessories that you can put on your kayak to make the journey more fun, and I invite you to share your adventures and tips.

A Little About My Kayak Story

I haven’t always owned a kayak. In fact, I didn’t get my first kayak until I was 50 yrs young. I grew up in the country and spent a lot of time camping as a child and even later with my own children. Even though we spent a lot of summers camping and floating down the river, we always used inner tubes. I have always loved the water and fishing, but never really considered doing it from a kayak.

Then, several years ago, my husband and I moved into our RV full-time and landed in Missouri. Here we lived in a campground right on a lake, next door to Bass Pro Shop. While working in the Bass Pro Shop, I became interested in the kayaks as a means to get out on the lake closer to the bigger fish. Just never could make the plunge to purchase one.

As luck would have it, one glorious day at work, we were in the midst of a contest and the prize was a beautiful red Ascend D10T kayak. When they called my name as the winner, I just about jumped out of my shoes!

That is where this story gets exciting!

I have fallen completely in love with kayaking!

Whether you are in it to fish, to just float down a lazy river and enjoy the scenery, or to take it on to some crazy, rushing river for a thrill of a lifetime, kayaking is a great way to relieve stress, get exercise and see some amazing things. Since owning my kayak I have fished a bit and I have seen some great scenery. I have also purchased a few accessories to make my excursions a bit more fun.

My Purpose and My Hope

My purpose and hope for this website is to share my adventures with those that either can’t get out and explore in a kayak or to encourage those that want to and don’t know where to start. I would love to take you all on an adventure and share some beautiful places, maybe catch a few fish and help you make some educated decisions about equipment and accessories if you are in the market.

I am certainly not a pro, but come with me on a journey of discovery and learning and we will figure it out together!

Annette

Founder of Kayak Adventures

annette@coolkayaker.com