11 Undeniable Benefits of Kayaking (Why It’s So Popular)

benefits of kayaking

Have you ever thought about exploring the world from a whole new perspective? Grab a kayak and hit the water! It’s a great way to explore and immerse yourself in nature and get a great workout at the same time. 

Kayaks are lightweight and versatile watercraft for lakes, rivers, and even oceans. They’re easy to transport and you can even get an inflatable kayak that fits in the trunk of your car.

See Also: 9 Myths About Inflatable Kayaks

In fact, a kayaking excursion can be anything from a peaceful and easy journey to a white-knuckle adventure in the rapids… it’s all up to you.

Not convinced yet? Here are 11 compelling benefits of kayaking to inspire you to grab your life vest, kayak, dry bag, and some paddles and take to the water! 

The Mental and Physical Benefits of Kayaking

Kayaking isn’t just a fun and enjoyable way to spend some time on the water. It also offers a variety of benefits for your mental and physical health.

#1 – Kayaking is good for your heart.


Aerobic exercise, such as kayaking, is a great way to exercise the heart. This type of activity builds up cardiac strength and helps your heart work more efficiently when pumping blood.

Aerobic activities also improve your circulation and increase the amount of oxygen and red blood cells in your body by boosting your heart rate. With consistency, your heart will be stronger and healthier.

#2 – Kayaking can help you lose weight.

If you’re interested in losing weight, you might be wondering “Is kayaking good exercise?” And, the answer is, yes! Kayaking is a fantastic form of exercise that burns about 500 calories for every hour of paddling at only 5 mph. 

While you might be able to burn calories a little faster on a treadmill, kayaking is a whole lot more fun! And most kayaking excursions last at least a couple of hours… sometimes even an entire morning. So, you can really burn a lot of calories in one kayaking trip.

If weight loss is one of your top goals, kayak each weekend and a couple of afternoons every week to achieve your goals.

#3 – Build strength in your upper body.

dragging inflatable kayak

Kayaking is a great way to build up strength in the muscles of your upper body. The paddling motion uses most of your upper body muscles, including your chest, back, and shoulders. Kayaking consistently will keep your upper body toned and strong.

Let’s say you paddle your kayak for one mile. That would require around 500 strokes, depending on conditions. Many people paddle for two miles or more during an afternoon of kayaking, so you’ll end up doing 1,000 strokes or more. That’s a fantastic workout for your upper body that’s also a ton of fun at the same time.

#4 – Tone up your leg muscles.

While the upper body workout associated with kayaking is the more obvious, kayaking is actually a great workout for your legs too. 

When you’re paddling, you use your legs to apply pressure to the sides of your kayak to keep yourself balanced. You also tighten and loosen your leg muscles countless times when turning or maneuvering through the water.

These movements are just as impactful on your leg muscles as paddling is for the upper body.

#5 – Strengthen and tighten your core.

And, the benefits of kayaking don’t end with toning the muscles in your upper and lower body! Kayaking requires you to engage your abdominals, obliques, and lower back. 

Every time you reach forward for a stroke, you contract your abs. When you pull back, you work the muscles in your lower back. And, when you twist, you work your obliques.

And, you’ve got to sit up nice and straight to maintain your balance, which means your core muscles remain engaged during the entire trip.

See Also: Kayaking vs Canoeing (Pros/Cons of Each)

#6 – Kayaking builds your endurance.

what to wear when kayaking

Since kayaking is often an hours-long workout, it can help you build up your endurance. With consistency, you’ll be able to paddle longer without becoming fatigued.

This type of moderately intense exercise can boost your energy levels over time. That means you’ll not only be able to kayak longer, but you’ll have better stamina for other sports and your daily activities, too.

#7 – Boost your vitamin D stores.

Vitamin D is important for a healthy immune system, strong bones and muscles, brain health, and cardiac function. While you can get vitamin D from foods like fatty fish, liver, and cheese, most people don’t get enough of it through diet alone.

The best way to boost your body’s intake of vitamin D is to spend time in the sun. Kayaking and other water activities are fun and enjoyable ways to get outdoors in the sunshine and fresh air, which is fantastic for your overall health and allows your body to produce more vitamin D.

#8 – Kayaking lowers your stress levels.

kayaking cold weather gear

Exercise, sunshine, and fresh air are all great ways to reduce stress. Not only is lowering stress important for your mental health, but it’s also essential for keeping your immune system strong to fight off illness and chronic disease.

Kayaking can be done year-round in most parts of the country. Just be sure to wear the right gear for the weather.

#9 – Boosts your mental health.

Not only is being outdoors in nature enjoyable, but it also makes you happier and boosts your mood and creativity levels. Kayaking is a fantastic way to spend more time outside.

Aerobic exercise stimulates the release of happy hormones called serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, and endorphins. These hormones help your body regulate moods and can even boost your confidence the same way learning to swim does.

If you’re looking for a natural way to combat mild depression and anxiety, kayaking is a great choice.

#10 – Improves your mental focus.

Those same happy hormones also boost your mental focus. Spending time kayaking every week gives your brain a break from day to day worries and also allows you to get back into the grind with improved motivation and focus.

#11 – Kayaking is a great way to socialize and bond with others.

kayaking pfd

Once you get into the groove of kayaking, it’s not complicated. Ask friends and family to join you on your kayaking adventures so that you can share the fun and enjoyment together. It’s a great time to socialize and bond.

And, if you don’t know anyone who’s interested in kayaking, there are lots of clubs and social groups for kayakers. Sign up to join kayaking trips in your area and meet new people with similar interests.

Final Thoughts

Socializing is great, but kayaking is also a wonderful activity for solitude and self-reflection. Don’t overlook the benefits of kayaking solo! It provides the perfect opportunity to focusing on yourself in a natural, peaceful setting.

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