Hitting the gym a couple of times per week becomes repetitive. Not only that, but they are overcrowded, and in the case of a lot of individuals, you find you can’t tone your body as you wish, or lose the extra few pounds.
The health benefits of kayaking are becoming well known, and more people are turning to this sport instead of staying indoors to take part in twice-weekly cardio workouts.
One of the benefits of kayaking, is you forget it is exercise. You can spend hours paddling around, and depending on how experienced you become, or how vigorous you paddle.
You will find out kayaking is a great way to tone the mind and the body in one go.
Aside from when you start kayaking with all the family, it is good exercise and can improve health and fitness while having fun in the great outdoors.
Here, we look at kayaking health benefits in full, and why everyone should try kayaking as part of their healthy living regime.
What Muscles are Given a Workout When Kayaking?
Arms of Steel
One of the main areas, which get a great workout when kayaking are your arms. No matter how calm or rough the water is, you still have resistance of the water you need to pull yourself through. This helps to develop lean muscle while increasing the biceps and triceps in size.
The reason it works so well is that as you dig the paddle in the water the biceps contract to drive you forward, on your opposite side, the triceps contract to increase the torque you can deliver.
The harder you paddle, or the rougher the water, the harder you tend to grip the paddle. This often happens subconsciously as you fight the resistance of the paddle in the water.
This works in tandem with your arms, so the harder your arms are working, the harder your grip.
This means you gain an increase in grip strength to overcome the force your arms are putting on the paddles.
Back and Shoulders
Once you learn how to kayak, you also learn how to use the body correctly. You find it isn’t just arms, which are used when you paddle a kayak. You start to use the muscle groups in the back and shoulders.
Aside from the back muscles, the shoulders and chest are used in equal amounts. The chest actually works more with the arms because it gets a workout on both sides of the body depending on which side of the paddle is in the water.
Each stroke would be the equivalent of performing a single-arm bench press with a dumbbell, yet you are doing this for extended periods.
When you learn a good a good paddling technique, you learn how to have a good body composition that is effective when paddling. This is why rowing or paddling of any kind delivers a great upper body workout.
The back muscles can drive you further because they are less prone to fatigue than the arms, so your lats and deltoids can provide most of the power and stamina you need in the upper body.
Another area that gets a full workout is the abdominal muscles. These are subject to continual rotations as the upper body swings from side to side. When you begin kayaking, you will find you probably have weak core muscles.
After a session or two, you will feel the exertion all along your trunk. This runs from your waist to the base of your neck.
With the rotation and counter-rotation, you gain stability and strength in your spine and an improvement with your balance.
Kayaking helps increase core strength, and you will see this as your posture improves outside of the kayak as you walk and work in other areas.
You may think your legs are left out, yet kayaking delivers a full-body workout, and even leg muscles gain a benefit.
Your legs deliver stability for all the body. Even though you are sitting, these muscles contract and relax while at the same time allowing you to deliver the power in the upper parts of the body.
Benefits of Kayaking
Aside from each muscle group, which gets a full workout, there are other benefits where kayaking helps.
All the above can answer the question “is kayaking a good exercise?” yet, there are more areas you see a difference which stems from gaining muscle mass.
Heart and Lungs
Once you get paddling, kayaking is as good as any other cardio exercises you can do in a gym or at home.
You may not associate kayaking with cardio, yet it is a fun way to build muscle while performing an aerobic exercise without consciously doing so.
Both the heart and lungs will be working overtime, and these are muscles in the same way as any other.
With regular exercise both can become stronger, not to mention the cleaner air you will be breathing in rather than the sweat-filled air in a stuffy gym.
Other forms of exercise may require you to do another to work on another part of the body, or to improve stamina.
Kayaking delivers all you need for every part of the body. The heart rate will increase, so the body works as hard as it needs to while improving all your cardiovascular system.
It may not be the intention to take up kayaking to lose weight, but with regular deep water kayaking trips, you can find there is a substantial amount of weight loss.
Some forms of exercise do burn more calories than kayaking, yet these are often carried out for much shorter periods.
It does depend on the size of your body, to how many calories per hour you can burn. The larger the body, the more calories there are to expel. If you were to partake in a more exertive sport, a heavier person may burn up to 600 calories per hour. This may last for an hour or two at most.
The same person kayaking may lose over 400 calories per hour of kayaking depending on the type of water they are kayaking on.
However, kayaking lasts longer than one or two hours, so you can spend a good half a day doing this high-calorie burning exercise.
For a smaller framed person, kayaking can burn around 300 calories in an hour. One thing that makes this so good for cutting the pounds is you are using all your muscles.
When you exercise with small muscle groups in a gym, you tend to put these under exercise stress. (Find the Best Kayak with Pedals)
This is counterproductive, and the body fights against stress by hanging onto fat pockets. More commonly, this is the extra pounds around the stomach.
Kayaking is a great exercise because you go at a slower pace, but for extended periods. Hence, you can burn through your calories, and the body doesn’t try to hang onto them.
Mental Health Benefits
One of the final areas where you see gains are in the mental health benefits. Kayaking is a fantastic way of combatting stress that can build up during the week.
We all face this no matter what age we are, so getting out there and unwinding while outdoors does wonders for mental health.
Rigorous exercise has been proven to fend off signs of stress and anxiety for up to 12 hours once the exercise is over. While kayaking, you find the same and the body is flooded with feel-good endorphins.
As a result, many people who go kayaking regularly have lots of fun and find they have an increased positive self-image. With water added into the mix, there is a kind of meditation going on as you paddle around.
You find you are in a relaxed state as your body is put through a good workout, so every second, while kayaking is doing nothing but good to your mind and your body.
One final thing is that many individuals suffer from a lack of Vitamin D, while you are on a lake or a river, or even kayaking on the ocean.
You will be exposed to an abundance of sunlight, so you can soak up this vitamin and reap the benefits this offers.
Kayaking can be a sport, which is suitable for everyone. It is a fantastic way to get outdoors, which always offers something different.
If looking at starting, you will need to find the right kayak for the type of kayaking you fancy doing.
There are many kayak brands, which make all types, from recreational kayaks, ocean-going kayaks to fishing kayaks.
There is no better time than to choose your vessel, and get out there and paddle your way to health and happiness.