How Many Calories Does Kayaking Burn?

Kayaking takes on many forms , from sedate kayak fishing to hitting rough river water or venturing onto the ocean.

It is a great way to unwind and get into the great outdoors, yet at the same time, it can deliver a killer workout.

It takes strength to kayak, and many users find it a great way to get fit and healthy, but how many calories burned kayaking are there?

Health Benefits of Kayaking

Here we answer that question while looking at all the other health benefits. We also see why it is a great way to lose weight and tone up all your muscles.

Benefits of Kayaking

Before comparing calorie burn during kayaking (calories per hour) and other sports, we will look at the workout and benefits it offers.

There are many more fitness benefits than it first appears.

Body Areas Used in Kayaking

Although you are sitting during kayaking, you still get a full-body workout. Kayaking beginners won’t see as much an effect in these areas, yet you will see improved muscle mass and how toned the body becomes once you get going.

Here are the key muscle groups , which get a good body workout when kayaking.


There will be water resistance as soon as you begin paddling. Even in lake kayaking, where it will be relatively calm, the arms get a great workout.

Pulling against the water with each arm in succession contracts and releases the muscles.

Biceps and triceps are the prime areas, which get the most attention when paddling at an average pace.


Believe it or not, this is one time you can sit down and exercise your legs. Each stroke you make will lean the kayak to the side of the paddle, and it is the legs, which help keep your balance and stability.

Aside from this, you will be forcing your feet against the kayak with each stroke you make.

Kayaking as Cadio Workout

Core Muscles

Core muscles come in a few muscle regions in the body. These will link the stomach, back, and shoulders. In the first few times kayaking, you will quickly find you lack core strength, yet this is one pastime that strengthens all of these together.

Body composition will improve the more you paddle, and with constant turning, the abdominal muscles increase in strength. From your waist up to your back to the top of your shoulders, take a lot of strain from dipping the paddle in the water. (Read Health Benefits Of Kayaking )

It doesn’t take long before you feel the difference, and you can spend more time on the water to paddle further with improved stamina in the upper body. With all the muscles working together, this is where you find you are burning calories instead of focusing on one area of the body.

Kayaking vs. Other Sports

While other sports will burn more calories than kayaking, these are often done for shorter periods.

The length of time you can paddle a kayak is much longer. Thus there will be an overall increase in the number of calories you can burn, i.e., calories per hour.

Walking and Hiking

The first casual form of exercise is walking. This burns the least amount of calories and is based more on distance than an hourly rate. It also differs depending on body weight.

If you are walking at an average pace, you can burn between 53 and 160 calories per mile at 100 pounds up to 300 pounds.

The number of calories you burn will increase with the number of miles you walk. (Read Kayak Registration Guide)

If you walk five miles, then for a 100-pound person, you would burn 266, whereas a 160-pound person would burn 510.

Hiking increases this because you will encounter inclines and rough terrain. Add in a backpack, and a 160-pound person could burn up to 440 calories for each hour.


It is water sports where you can make a better comparison for the number of calories burned. Here we compare some against kayaking.

Stand-Up Paddle-boarding

Paddleboard is very similar to kayaking in the way it delivers a workout to the body. Many actions are the same, yet the difference is you are standing rather than sitting.

You use the same back muscles, arms, shoulders, and abs. The bigger difference being the kegs gain a better workout because you are standing.

A downside of this is you can’t do Stand-Up Paddle-boarding for as long as you can paddle in a kayak.

A person weighing 130 pounds can burn around 374 calories an hour at a steady pace. A heavier person of around 175 pounds can burn up to 500 calories at the same time.

When you increase the intensity, you see an average weighted person can now burn up to 735 calories, yet it can be hard to maintain this pace for anywhere close to an hour.

The more experienced stand-up paddleboarders often partake in SUP racing. These will be shorter spurts of energy, yet the number of calories can burn rockets up to around 1125 per hour.

Water Skiing

You may think being dragged behind a boat doesn’t burn calories. Yet, during the time you are taking part, it is high intensity. Water skiing can burn around 324 calories over an hour.

All the back muscles, legs, abs, and arms can take an intense beating during the short spells. All the major core groups are in action.

Like other sports on water, this doesn’t last close to an hour, and you may find spells of ten or fifteen minutes more likely.

Another factor that can be limiting with this activity compared to kayaking will be the cost. Even renting time out on the water by boat or in a specialized water park can quickly outweigh the kayaking costs. Aside from this, you are limited to where you can venture.


One sport many individuals take up is swimming. This can be one of the best ways to exercise weight loss because it uses every muscle in the body. The more muscles you use, the faster calories are burned.

If you are around 130-pounds in weight, you can expect to burn up to 360 per hour if your swimming is of moderate intensity.

If you up the pace to more vigorous swimming, like making different strokes like the butterfly, breaststroke, or backstroke, you can reach up to almost 600 calories in the same period.

While it is one of the best weight control activities, there are some downsides when you compare it to kayaking .

One, you can’t swim all day, and swimming won’t give you the same satisfaction of venturing into the great outdoors. (Find the Best Pedal Drive Kayaks)


After looking at the groups of muscles that get a workout when kayaking, you begin to understand why it is effective to burn calories.

Every time you dip the kayak paddle in the water, you are using a large group of muscles, and the more muscles you use, the more calories the body consumes.

Once you get going, you are subjecting the body to a healthy cardio workout. This exertion will increase once you hit rougher water or go out on the ocean. The other great thing with kayaking is you can paddle for extended periods.

Harvard Health has even taken a look at the effects of kayaking and made a comparison against skateboarding, snorkeling, or walking.

The health publications state an average-sized kayaker (125 pounds) can burn up to 300 calories per hour. This will increase with more significant body weight and increase many calories are burned.

One thing to note is when you kayak, you may be out for most of the day, and the total calories you get through can quickly accumulate.

Burning Calories by Kayaking


The benefits of kayaking reach way beyond a means to control or lose some weight. It can be more enjoyable than some other sports listed as you can do it with family or friends.

Once you gain experience, one excursion into the wilderness can exceed the recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week.

Many kayakers venture out and pack all their camping essentials and head downriver, or they go for a fishing kayak where they can unwind and get some serious exercise in the process.

One other benefit from kayaking is you can soak up large amounts of Vitamin D while out paddling.

Not only will you be working all your muscles, but you will also be getting the benefits of this vitamin as a bonus.

By the end of the day, you will feel happier with all the feel-good hormones released throughout the day from your simple exercise.

How Many Calories Does Kayaking Burn

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