Can You Lose Weight By Kayaking — 7 Reasons

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Can You Lose Weight By Kayaking

Burning fat is commonly associated with exercise, but others choose to do this by playing sports such as kayaking. But can you lose weight by kayaking?

Though a recreational activity or sport, kayaking is rarely addressed when it comes to weight loss. However, enjoyable activities make the process of losing weight one less grueling to do and just about any physical activity allows you to burn more calories than dieting alone.

If you want a good workout while having a great view along with some fun with it, kayaking is a great sport to consider.

What Is Kayaking?

Kayaking is a fun sport that involves paddling through water in a specially designed kayak with a double-bladed paddle. You as the boat’s driver and paddler can navigate waterways by sitting and propelling forward with alternating side-to-side paddle strokes. You sit in the cockpit, legs extended beneath a closed deck and with your upper body free and exposed.

A kayak is a small boat that floats on the water. Kayaks come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and they are made from a variety of materials. Some kayaks are even handcrafted, but most are commercially manufactured from rotomolded polyethylene, which makes them highly durable. A modern kayak has a front deck covering the paddler’s legs and a back deck surrounding the boat’s stern.

Benefits Of Kayaking

An important aspect of weight loss is that it involves more than just calories burned. Your overall health and well-being heavily influence the effectiveness of your weight loss workout.

If you are stressed, sleep-deprived, or experiencing other difficulties, it will impact your overall weight loss success. This is where some of the kayaking’s more subtle advantages come into play.

It is a Vitamin D Supplement

Spending significant amounts of time outside has numerous advantages. Your vitamin D intake will increase, which is a good thing.

Vitamin D is the most difficult nutrient to obtain exclusively through diet. The sun provides us with more of it than any other source. Add to that the fact that almost everyone is vitamin D deficient. Going outside and onto your kayak will be very helpful in this regard.

Kayaking Improves Emotional Health

Most people go kayaking with their friends and family. This is a great way to bond and have fun while also losing weight and improving your health. If your physical activity makes you feel invigorated while also getting a good workout, it’s a win-win situation.

It can also help to have a support group to encourage you on your weight loss journey. It strengthens your commitment while also forging friendships and creating beautiful memories.

But what if you’d instead kayak alone? Understandably, not everyone wants to be around other people. In this case, it allows you to get away and reflect, which can benefit your mental health.

Kayaking is a Great Stress Reliever

Kayaking is a calming form of exercise, which is why many people enjoy it. You get a good workout when you float along a lake or river.

Keeping your mind on the activity and admiring the scenery can help you forget the things that make you stressed or anxious.

It’s an excellent stress reliever that can boost your confidence, happiness, and self-esteem. Kayaking is suitable for both the mind and the body.

Kayaking is Low-Impact Activity

Kayaking, unlike other forms of exercise, is a low-impact activity. It reduces the wear and tears on your joints and muscles.

It’s an excellent exercise for individuals healing from injuries or simply looking for a fun day on the lake.

It’s a Great Upper-body Workout

Kayaking works on all areas of the body, but it is especially beneficial to the core and upper body strength. It’s a fantastic overall workout that combines cardio with resistance training, with the resistance being the water itself.

When kayaking, you can use water resistance to your advantage. Water resistance provides excellent exercise for your chest, shoulders, arms, and back.

You’re still working your upper body muscles considerably more than you would if sitting at home, no matter how powerful or weak the currents are.

It’s a Good Workout for Your Legs

While kayaking, you may not be thinking about your legs, but they are getting a fantastic workout.

Kayaking requires leg and core strength to steer and navigate through turbulent water. Because your core rotates depending on the situation, it requires additional power from your legs.

Kayaking is Good Aerobic Exercise

Kayaking is also an excellent aerobic activity. Your heart rate rises as you continue to paddle.

You can achieve strong cardio outcomes without using a treadmill, exercise bike, or other equipment. All you need is a kayak, a paddle, and a body of open water.

Kayaking and Joint Health

Kayak paddling relies on rotational movements but in a highly beneficial way for your joints. Most of us spend our days with our shoulders slumped forward, and our necks drooping, leading to a debilitating back or shoulder, and neck problems later in life.

Kayaking requires the scapula (shoulder blades) to push the shoulders back to the paddle, and it is critical to keep your back upright to connect your core muscles to your movements. All of this helps prevent shoulder joint problems.

This rotational movement is highly beneficial to your back and overall health. Many Olympic coaches insist that their athletes use some form of rowing motion to train their muscles.

In a study done to adults, evidence suggested that therapeutic aquatic exercise is potentially beneficial to patients suffering from chronic low back pain and pregnancy-related low back pain. Though the therapeutic aquatic exercise appeared to have a beneficial effect, it was no better than other interventions1.

These are just a handful of the numerous benefits of kayaking. It’s a powerful workout that most people don’t consider but has the potential to help you get in shape.

Everything About Kayaking And Losing Weight

1. Is Kayaking Good Exercise?

Kayaking has the potential to be an effective and beneficial workout that targets a variety of muscle groups. It is a cardio activity that gets your heart rate up. Kayaking is also repetitious, demanding effort, and requires using your entire body.

Kayaking, fortunately, can be used for both aerobic and strength training. As a result, merely paddling can do more for your body. Because the paddling activity elevates your heart rate, you can enjoy this sport as an effective cardio exercise tailored to your specific needs.

The paddling movements required for moving and navigating the kayak, on the other hand, help to improve your body strength, muscles, and core. A stronger core allows you better to support your back, spine, and neck. 

2. How Many Calories Can You Lose Weight by Kayaking?

Several factors, including weight, size, and exercise intensity, determine the number of calories you burn. The more weight you have, the more calories you will burn while kayaking. Kayaking burns approximately 450 calories per hour for a 200-pound person.

Furthermore, the intensity of your kayaking determines how fast you go and how many calories you burn. Paddling through a series of solid rapids is generally more intense and challenging than a leisurely paddle down a calm river. The more intensely you paddle, the more calories you burn.

3. Is Kayaking An Ideal Way To Lose Weight?

Kayaking, as previously stated, includes cardio and strength workouts, which are essential for weight loss. Cardio exercise allows you to burn calories, lose weight, and gain strength in one movement.

Kayaking is enjoyable, so it feels less like a workout. It is a fun way to exercise and strengthen your muscles while also burning fat. Maintain a regular kayaking routine, and you will soon notice increased muscle mass and faster weight loss.

4. Which Muscles Does Kayaking Exercise?

Kayaking requires movements that are good for your shoulders and back. Moving the paddle forward and upshifts the weight from your lats to your shoulders. This then targets your back, lateral, and anterior deltoids simultaneously. Key muscles that kayaking works include:

Key muscles that kayaking works include:

  • Arms (grip, forearms, biceps, and triceps)
  • Chest
  • Abs
  • Shoulders
  • Back

Furthermore, you are working your pectoral muscles hard with each row, pulling your arm simultaneously while keeping your shoulders stable and steady. The movement also allows for the development of arm strength.

5. Does Kayaking Burn Belly Fat?

Yes, kayaking can help you lose belly fat. It also aids in the development of stronger muscles. Kayaking paddling involves rotational movements that strain your abs and core.

A single paddle stroke contracts your oblique and abdominal muscles, increasing core strength. Combining these movements sculpts your core and works your obliques and abs.

6. Is Kayaking A Full-Body Workout?

Kayaking involves movement that works your back, shoulders, arms, and chest. The paddling motion, on the other hand, works your core and leg muscles. Kayaking requires using the powers in your legs, arms, back, shoulders, and torso.

Most people believe kayaking is only suitable for the upper body because it requires the kayaker to sit down and use their arms. On the other hand, kayaking is a great full-body workout that works all your major muscles.

Regular kayaking trips will cause you to notice a positive change in your body. You will lose weight in all areas while gaining muscle in all targeted areas.

7. How Does Kayaking Compare To Jogging?

Most people envision jogging almost immediately after thinking about losing weight. Jogging burns about 100 calories per mile, depending on how fast you can jog – although jogging fast for long periods is not sustainable.

Running is convenient but monotonous and linked to ankle and knee joint problems. The other issue is that strenuous jogging can raise cortisol levels, a hormone that has a bad reputation, and chronically high levels can eat muscle tissue.

Jogging also places a lot of weight and downward pressure on delicate joints, which is exacerbated as your weight increases. On the other hand, kayaking is gentler on the joints and does not require any weight bearing.

While jogging is okay, many people need to do it consistently enough to lose weight. While kayaking may not burn as many calories as jogging in the short term, you will burn more in the long run if you enjoy it and do it regularly.

Tips For Burning More Calories While Kayaking

Paddle harder.

While it may appear obvious, one of the simplest ways to burn more calories is to paddle harder. Aside from the advantages of kayaking faster and building more muscle, increasing your MET (Metabolic Equivalent) will increase the rate at which you burn calories.

Also, the longer you keep the intensity up, the more your muscles build up, making it easier to paddle the next time you’re out on the water.

Paddle for longer.

Spending more time in your kayak is another excellent way to burn more calories while kayaking. You will burn many calories as long as you move around.

Every additional hour spent kayaking burns a few hundred calories and is removed from your system.

Find rougher water.

Finding harsher tides can also be a good place to burn extra calories if you’re looking for more action. This could come from simply finding rough streams or going whitewater rafting.

When facing the current, the rough water will force you to paddle harder, but it will also cause you to use your legs and core to stay balanced and not tip over. This level of exercise will quickly raise your MET.

However, this can be quite difficult for inexperienced kayakers, and safety precautions should be taken.

Add more weight to your kayak.

Finally, while this is my least favorite option, some people may prefer to increase calorie burn by adding more weight to their kayak.

The extra weight forces you to use more force in your strokes, raising your heart rate and stimulating muscle growth.

Train For Kayaking

Since you can’t spend a ton of time practicing in an actual boat, it can be challenging for beginners just to start.

Here is a guide to consider training for kayaking so that it could contribute towards a better on-water performance.

Remember, as with any exercise, gradually increase your intensity as your endurance improves. Before beginning an intense new workout, always consult with your doctor.

To choose a workout plan to help you achieve your kayaking goals, consider the following four factors:

  • Strengthen your core muscles. Your core muscles help with both stability and stroke power. Abdominal and back workouts will help to strengthen these muscles and improve your skill set.
  • Strengthen your shoulder and arm muscles to improve your endurance. Shoulder and arm muscle endurance are essential for kayakers because these muscle groups must constantly be active during a stroke sequence.
  • Improving your balance goes hand in hand with strengthening your core muscles. By providing a stable foundation, a solid base will allow you to move through your paddling motion quickly and efficiently.
  • Never overlook cardio. Interval training can help you get an extra boost. Swimming is ideal because it works for most muscle groups, but running or walking can also be effective.


Kayaking is a thrilling activity that you can try with your friends or family. It is especially beneficial if you prefer to avoid going to the gym or other types of workouts. Paddling your kayak engages your body muscles, allowing you to gain strength and muscle mass in critical areas.

Paddling through rapids is also a vigorous form of cardio that helps you burn calories. The more calories you burn, the faster you will lose weight. Kayaking is thus a good form of exercise that can help you lose weight while building strength and muscle.


1 Waller B, Lambeck J, Daly D. Therapeutic aquatic exercise in the treatment of low back pain: a systematic review. Clin Rehabil. 2009 Jan;23(1):3-14. doi: 10.1177/0269215508097856. PMID: 19114433.


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