Kayaking for exercise at sunset

Is Kayaking Good Exercise (TIPS)

Every year, hundreds of thousands of people discover the amazing benefits of kayaking – tackling the water for the very first time in the perfect kayak, exploring lakes, rivers, and other bodies of water in the local area, and getting the chance to experience exactly what it’s like to be a lot closer to nature than most of the office dwellers ever get the chance to.

Even still, there are some people that wonder “is kayaking good exercise”. Is it a proper way to get the kind of workout that I need to lose weight, build strength, and look (not to mention feel) a whole lot better than I do right now?

Those that are brand-new to the sport of kayaking discover that kayaking is more than a little bit of tough work. You really have to put your body into propelling your kayak along in a straight line and had a quick clip regardless of whether you’re cruising across flatwater or zipping down a river or creek, and you’re likely to activate new muscle groups that you may have forgot you had in the first place!

Is Kayaking Good Exercise

According to the American Council on Exercise, an individual weighing in at 125 pounds will burn close to 300 cal per hour while cruising a kayak around on flat water. Someone weighing in at 200 pounds will burn even more, nearly 450 cal per hour!

This means that kayaking is a better exercise than walking, a better exercise then jogging, and almost as good as running if your main goal is to burn calories while doing a fun outdoor activity.

Obviously, if you’ve spent any amount of time whatsoever kayaking, you probably had a pretty good idea that this was a good exercise to begin with. As we highlighted above, the odds are you’ve felt the burn in your shoulders, your arms, your back – and if you’ve learned advanced paddling techniques you’ve also felt the burn (and the power) deep down in your core too.

How to Make Kayaking Even More Effective as an Exercise Program

If you are serious about making kayaking a big part of your exercise routine (since it gets you so close to nature and out on the water, why wouldn’t you), you’ll want to implement at least a handful of the tips and tricks that we highlight for you below.

For starters, you might start thinking of kayaking the same way that swimmers do laps in a pool while they are working out or training. Paddle your kayak out into the water in a straight a line (halfway through the lake, maybe) before turning back around sharply and rinsing and repeating the process over and over again for as many repetitions as you can stand.

You could also choose to circumnavigate a body of water while kayaking, digging deep and power stroking every single step of the way. This will really start to activate your core, but it will also teach you how to better control and better pilot your kayak – especially under steam when you start to really cruise.

Expeditions down a fast-moving river can be great exercise as well, as they will require you to use your fast twitch muscles, your reactions, and your entire body to control your kayak as the river pushes you this way and that.

You don’t necessarily have to tackle whitewater by any stretch of the imagination (unless you are experienced enough to do so and have the right equipment), but even a moderately fast-moving river will provide you with plenty enough of a challenge to push your body to the limits if you spend an hour or so kayaking in it.


At the end of the day, you won’t have to ask yourself the question “is kayaking good exercise” too often if you actually get yourself a kayak, plop down into it, and start enjoying everything that it has to offer.

You will find out almost immediately that it is real exercise (and sometimes real work) but it’s also going to pay off significantly after a couple of weeks – you can believe that!

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