When most people think of paddling a kayak, they imagine a peaceful morning setting composed of cool misty waters, lush vegetation along the shoreline and the soothing sounds of running water while others may have visions of a memorable family outing on a warm sunny afternoon.
What many people don’t realize, or rather may not consider, is that they can utilize a kayak for a daily exercise routine. The fact is, every time you go kayaking, you are essentially working out regardless of technique, pace or activity. Just like walking, jogging or running, you are using your heart and muscles, some of which you may not even know you are being activated.
You already know that paddling a kayak is a physical recreational activity, so why not use it to achieve your ultimate fitness goals? Here are a few reasons why you should consider putting on water shoes instead of running shoes.
1. Paddling Is For Anyone of Any Fitness Level or Any Age Group
Whether you are the younger athlete looking for a fast-paced, extended workout or a senior who prefers a low-impact routine, you’ll find that a kayak can accommodate just about anyone. Regardless of age, you can design a workout routine that meets your individual needs and limitations.
2. It’s a Full-Body Workout
Despite appearances, you actually use more than just your arms when paddling. With a proper paddling technique and posture, you’ll be using your torso, back and even your leg muscles to propel yourself. While the majority of the motion is above the waist, the pressure you apply on your foot pegs or braces will result in the use of your leg muscles.
For a true lower/upper body workout, consider purchasing a kayak with a pedal drive system such as the Hobie Mirage Sport so you can alternate between leg and arm propulsion.
3. The Perfect Cross-Fitness Opportunity
If you find that you are passionate about running, swimming, weightlifting or cycling and don’t want to give up those exercise methods, consider a cross-fitness routine. For example, run or jog around a lake trail for 30 minutes and then paddle for another 30 minutes. Or use your kayak as part of your cardio training program on even days and do your weightlifting on odd days. Either way, find a combination that best fits your health, lifestyle and goals.
4. Kayaking Is a Low-Impact Workout
Kayaking provides the ultimate low-impact workout routine. Since you are sitting down, you don’t have to worry about “pounding” your knees or inflicting some of the other injuries typically associated with running or cycling. It doesn’t take much to propel your kayak, allowing you to decide how much effort you want to put in your paddling stroke.
If you have bad shoulders or elbows, you can always consider using a kayak with a pedal drive system that allows you to utilize your legs instead of your arms. Depending on your location and/or weather conditions, you always have the option to go for a nice soothing swim after your workout. Regardless, your body will thank you for using a kayak in your exercise routine.
5. It’s Good For the Soul
Work out your body and revitalize your soul after a long hard day at the office. Unlike a gym, you’ll find that kayaking provides a more enjoyable experience by eliminating loud TVs and music, the constant humming or clanking of exercise equipment and crowds. Instead, you’ll be greeted with beautiful scenery, wildlife and depending on your location, a sense of tranquility.
6. It’s Not Just for Exercise
When is the last time you used your treadmill for fun? Unlike most exercise equipment, your kayak has multiple uses. Whether you decide to go on an overnight paddling trip or meet up with friends for some fun in the sun, your kayak will provide you with more than just health benefits.
These are just a few of the benefits that kayaking will provide as part of your exercise routine. While your traditional exercise techniques provide you with general benefits, kayaking is fast becoming a popular choice for fitness!
Before you hit the water, remember these kayak fitness tips!
- Stretch before and after – You should always take the time to do a stretch routine just like you would when exercising on land.
- Drink plenty of water – Utilize a CamelBak Hydration Backpack so you don’t have to worry about finding a place to store or dispose of your water bottles.
- Upgrade to a comfortable seat – Make the best of your fitness routine with a seat that gives you plenty of support such as a Comfy Deluxe Big Back Kayak Seat.
- Protect your kayak – It’s always important that you secure your kayak, especially if you decide to do cross-fit training with a kayak cable lock.
- Warm up and warm down – Use this time to enjoy the scenery!
Please note: This article is a general guideline and should not be used as a complete guide to using your kayak for fitness. Do your research and consider getting proper kayak fitness training and other classes that will help you understand how to get properly outfitted, the different types of paddling techniques, getting in and out of your kayak and survival/safety training.