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Benefits of Kayaking for Exercise

Kayaking is an ideal exercise option for those who enjoy the water and staying active. Just like how you can choose to either walk, jog, or run, kayak exercise is similarly customizable. You can leisurely paddle around a lake, but you can also be out on the ocean or on river rapids for a more intense experience.

It’s also adaptable to an individual or group work-out routine, not to mention during COVID, it’s an easy way to safely exercise with friends outside. There are many ways you can learn  and  get prepared for the sport, and you’d be surprised at how much you can gain from a kayak workout. From toning your physique to clearing your head, kayaking for exercise has something for everyone!

Kayak Exercise Pros

Regardless of your skill level with kayaking, angling, or other boating activities, if you’re in it for the physical activity you have nothing to lose. Despite how daunting it may seem, kayaking is more accessible than you’d think and it’s pretty easy to pick up after a couple lessons or some light research.

If you’re more curious about what specifically kayaking can offer your exercise routine, here are some more benefits:

  • Full-Body Workout-- whether you begin with a jog and end with paddling, or you engage in a longer water-session, you’re guaranteed to hit most muscle groups in the process. Especially if you invest in a kayak with a pedal drive system, you can hit both upper and lower body by trading off between paddling and pedaling!
  • Core Strengthening-- while you might not think of it initially, in addition to toned arms or legs for propulsion, you also require a solid core for balancing & proper paddling technique. Keeping proper posture and centering yourself are important factors while kayaking, so you’ll naturally begin toning those core muscles along with your arms if you keep at it regularly enough.
  • Aerobic Training-- as with any routine physical exertion, you’re bound to increase your respiration rate. In turn, your lung capacity and cardiovascular health are positively impacted as they get used to being pushed. Timing breaths & measuring your breathing with the rhythms of your paddle can be good training for breath control in other cardio activities as well.
  • Engaging & Low-Impact Sport-- staying seated & moving against water resistance is both more fun & less jarring than hitting the pavement or running on a treadmill. In this respect, kayaking is lower-impact and decreases the chance of joint wear-and-tear that you experience with other activities. If you’re worried about shoulder or elbow sensitivity, you can off-set with a pedal drive kayak to propel yourself with your legs instead.
  • Stress-Relieving-- battle waves and currents on the ocean, or lose yourself in the serenity of a calm lake or stream. Whether you’re looking for a meditative lull or adrenaline boost, you’re able to get out of your head and into nature through kayak exercise. Because this sport is adaptable to most water environments, you’re able to change up your scenery depending on what you need out of your exercise routine that day.


Just like with any other sport, make sure you’re stretching, warming up, and cooling down regardless of the type of kayaking you’re planning to get into. Don’t forget to hydrate and have fun with it, too! Adventure awaits!

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