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What Are the Benefits of Kayaking?

If you are just dipping your toes into the kayaking world, you might not be aware of the numerous benefits of this popular activity. As you can probably imagine, there a myriad of physical benefits of kayaking: exercise for your muscles, cardiovascular health, and core. But there are unexpected benefits in mood, focus, and relaxation as well.

Kayaking has something for everyone. Like a challenge? Want a leisurely float on a placid lake? Need mobility adaptions? Want to fish by yourself or with a friend? Check out kayaks for whitewater, touring, fishing, sit-in or sit-on-top, single or tandem. This water sport is so versatile.

Taking the plunge with a kayak has so many benefits:

Kayaking is Exercise for Your Body

  • Weight Control: Whether paddling or pedaling, kayaking means burning calories. And that can pay dividends in weight management. Hauling, loading, launching, paddling. Get moving and get lean. Paddling at a 5 miles/hour pace can burn 500 calories in an hour. Don’t get stuck on a treadmill indoors; get out pedaling and enjoy the water.
  • Upper Body: Plying that paddle can really get you a decent upper body work out. Of course, your arms are moving, but you also end up engaging your chest, back, and shoulders as well. Win, win, win.
  • Balance and Core: Kayaking requires balance; balance requires a strong core. The act of staying upright in the kayak will automatically engage those muscles in your middle that are needed to maintain balance. Paddling also uses the lower back, abs, and obliques.
  • Cardiovascular and Endurance: As you tone those muscles and burn those calories, you will find you are working out your lungs and heart as well. Kayaking pays great dividends in the health of your cardio and vascular systems as well as your endurance. Start small but watch the gains grow as you can go out - and stay out - longer.

Kayaking is Exercise for Your Soul

  • Improved Mood: Just spending time outdoors has been found to lower stress. Also, kayaking helps to release the “feel good” hormones of serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins. These chemical neurotransmitters can improve mood and lead to more self-confidence. As your confidence in learning a new skill grows, so can your confidence in other areas.
  • Focus and Attention: Those same hormones that make you feel better can also aid in increased focus and improved attention span. As you focus on your new kayaking skill, you are releasing just the right chemicals that will help you to focus on your daily life as well. Exercise is also known to increase memory. Believe it or not, kayaking doesn’t just tone your muscles, it also engages your hippocampus - that region of the brain in charge of verbal memory and learning. Consistent kayaking continues to tone that vital region.
  • Relaxation: In spite of the fact that you are burning calories, toning your muscles, and building your endurance, you will also find yourself relaxing. Kayaking is a time to pause, take in your surroundings, and unplug from daily stresses, electronics, and worries, can lead to a healthier mindset and the ability to relax tense muscles.
  • Better Sleep: All of these can also lead to better sleep. A day outdoors in the wind, water, and sun working your muscles and burning calories is a recipe for a good night’s sleep. A tired body is more likely to fall asleep and stay asleep. You will wake up well-rested and ready to tackle another day.


There are so many benefits of kayaking from the mental to the physical. Why do you kayak? What is stopping you? Join the many people who have fallen in love with this popular water activity.


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