Kayaking and Exercise

Kayaking and exercise makes for a healthy lifestyle

Kayaking Makes You Younger!

Spend too much time in the boat and you’ll start going backwards!  Look at Brian Lewis.  No one would ever guess he’s 78 years old, and he’s only been kayaking for a half dozen years!

Seriously, kayaking won’t turn your grey hair dark again, but it will add years to your life, improve your health and pay increasing benefits over the years you have left….IF it becomes a regular part of your life.

So let’s take a closer look at how kayaking makes you healthier.

Life in the Slow Lane

Of course the most obvious benefit of any outdoor sport is that it gets you outside…in the sun and fresh air, in the natural world.  River trails are generally paths through the less developed parts of our environment, even in the most urbanized areas.  Kayakers travel at the interface of the land and water where the most biodiversity occurs.  The wonder and delight of “discovering” the natural world; deer drinking, beaver kayaking, fish swimming beneath your boat, is a certain kind of vitamin that provides a certain kind of protection from the worst effects of living in our man-made world.

Pumpin’ Kayaks

So much for the benefits to your soul, but how about your body?

Kayaking has a reputation for being an upper body sport, but properly executed, most kayaking strokes require that you spread the strain, or effort, out along your entire body from the balls of your feet on the foot pegs, through your legs, hips, back, shoulders, and arms all the way to your hands holding the paddle shaft.  Certainly loading and unloading your boat, TWICE for each kayaking trip (for most people) and carrying it to the put-in, and from the take-out, is a full body exercise that strengthens not just your limbs and core muscle groups, but also your skeletal structure and joints.

Once on the water, the majority of the time you’re kayaking you’re putting your upper body through a repeating series of range of motion exercises that strengthen arm, shoulder and back muscles, and help keep all the joints used flexible and healthy.  The natural cushioning effect of water against the pressure you place on the kayak means that, unlike running and jogging, kayaking and canoeing are low impact sports.  For older kayakers, kayaking can also reduce the stiffness and pain associated with arthritis or other inflammatory conditions.

Pushing water with a kayak also strengthens your cardiovascular system (heart and blood vessels) and reduces your risk of heart disease.

Burn Carbohydrates Not Hydrocarbons!

Kayaking can be as aerobic, or non-aerobic an exercise as you choose.  At one end of the aerobic spectrum is marathon canoe or kayak racing and kayaking whitewater.  At the other end of the exercise spectrum might be just floating down a lazy river, and kayak fishing.

But if your goals are to burn carbs and lose weight, average paced recreational kayaking is as good a calorie burner as walking.  If you want to make kayaking a real workout, kayaking at a pace where you cannot complete a sentence without becoming winded is comparable to jogging.  Of course your mileage may vary, but if you want to zero in on your burn rate for your set of variables, you’ll find a tool to calculate your kayaking calories here.  (http://www.fitday.com/webfit/burned/calories_burned_Kayaking.html)

Love A Kayaker!
Finally, the combination of increased muscle strength, flexibility, and the endurance gained by kayaking for hours, leads to improvements in…ummmm….other areas of your life.  Ok, let’s just say it in plain language – kayaking can make you a better lover!

The Bottom Line
So, to sum up….kayaking is good for your soul, muscles, joints, bones, heart, fitness, health and love life.


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