Quick Guide To Benefits of Kayaking - Health Happiness and H20

Canoes and Kayaks

Kayaking is one of the most relaxing and fun activities you can do. It’s great exercise, it’s a very social activity, and it’s an excellent way to get away from your daily stressors. If you’re looking for some great benefits of kayaking, here are five answers to common questions in particular:

Kayaking Health Benefits
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1. Is kayaking good for weight loss?

If you are looking for a way to get in shape and lose weight, kayaking is a great option. It may not be the most common workouts out there, but it’s definitely one of the best. The truth is that if you want to slim down and tone up, kayaking is a fantastic workout because it uses all muscle groups at once. You don’t have to worry about choosing between cardio or strength training with this sport either, you get both – just put on some good tunes and start paddling!

Just remember that exercise alone may not get you the fat loss you are after, it needs to be combined with a good, calorie controlled diet to be effective.

2. Can Kayaking Build Muscles?

Kayaking engages most of your upper body muscles such as your back, shoulders, arms, chest and abdominals (core). Your oblique muscles, lower back muscles and legs are used to maintain balance and assist in the twisting motion of paddling.

Kayaking at a leisurely pace on still waters for relaxation is great for the brain muscle but will only have a minimal effect on muscle development if you don’t strain too much.

Continuous paddling on long kayaking tours can help build muscle in the upper body especially in a kayaker who doesn’t spend much time in the gym lifting weights or is a newbie to the sport.  An endurance paddler will reach a certain average level of muscle development which will then plateau.

Packing on some serious muscle through kayaking requires one to follow the rules of progressive overload.  That is to progressively push you muscles past previous limits, usually in shorter bursts.  (100 metre sprinter vs marathon runner physique).

This can be easily achieved in a gym through adding more weights or sets to a workout but can be a little harder sitting in a kayak.

Greater strength and a decent physique from kayaking requires powerful strokes from whitewater kayaking, competition racing or just pushing yourself to go harder and faster each time.

3. What is the average number of kayaking calories burned?

Generally one hour of continuous paddling can burn up to 480 calories. However overall calories burned also depends on a number of factors, including the size(weight) of the paddler, the effort put into each stroke, stroke rate, the length of time spent on the water and even to some extent the type of kayak. 

According to the University of Rochester Medical Centre calculator, the estimated kayak calorie burn per hour by weight of paddler is as follows:

kayaking calories burned

4. Is kayaking a good cardio workout?

As well as being a great strength workout, kayaking has the added benefit of being a good all round low impact aerobic exercise. As kayaking can be done for hours on end you can get an elevated heart rate for extended periods of time. This type of workout helps strengthens the heart, improves its efficiency to pump blood and also improves circulation.  The greatest part of all, is that kayaking is fun.  Compare one hour of cardio on a stationary bike, elliptical trainer or running to an hour on the river… I know which one I would rather.  If it’s fun then you’re more likely to keep going and maintain a healthy level of fitness.

Kayaking Calories Burned
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5. What are the other health benefits of Kayaking?

The best thing about kayaking are the other mental and physical benefits it provides. Vitamin D is essential for strong bones and helps boost the immune system. Being out on the open water provides you the opportunity to soak up the suns rays, allowing for the production of Vitamin D.

Spending time outside in the fresh air and sunshine can help reduce stress which in turn helps you sleep better.  Cortisol is a hormone that our body releases when we are stressed and/or don’t get adequate quality sleep.  Excess cortisol can lead to a multitude of health issues if it’s not kept in check.  Kayaking is a great way to reduce cortisol levels.

Kayaking is a great way to feel happier.  Exercise in the outdoors, with friends can help regulate the body’s mood chemicals such as endorphins making you feel happier, brighter and have an overall improvement in ones sense of well-being.


Kayaking is a great way to stay in shape, have fun on the water, and get some fresh air. If you are looking for more information about  the benefits of kayaking or would like to find kayaking places near you, head on over to our kayaking location page.

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