Why Kayaking Is Good For Mind, Body & Soul.

Healthy happy people kayaking

Kayaking is a good recreational activity for people who want to participate in fun water activities. But kayaking is more than just fun; it offers many benefits to mind and body. But why is kayaking god for you?

Kayaking offers the same health benefits as other aerobic and strength training exercises but because it is a low impact physical activity, it reduces the risk of getting musculoskeletal injuries. Regular kayaking leads to improved cardiovascular fitness and increased muscular strength. It also helps with mental health as it can help a person de-stress. Kayaking also has emotional and social benefits.

Benefits of kayaking

First and foremost kayaking is fun. Kayaking is a fun way to exercise. As a solo or group activity kayaking offers a great way to engage in fun water-based activities.

In this article we will discuss why kayaking is beneficial for both mind and body.

Health benefits

Arguably the most well known benefits from kayaking are physical.

As a form of low impact aerobic exercise kayaking offers many physical benefits.

Paddling a kayak requires you to hold the correct posture and exert a certain amount of physical effort with every stroke. Maintaining good kayaking posture, which is necessary when kayaking, means you isolate specific muscle groups and as you push your paddle through the water you work those muscle and over time this leads to a strengthening of those muscles.

Upper Body Workout

When you paddle in a kayak you work out the upper part of your body particularly your back, arms, shoulders and chest. Regular kayaking increases the strength of these muscles thus leading to a gain in upper body strength.

The constant rotation of your body also helps your core get stronger with time by targeting your stomach muscles. Your core acts to help balance and control the kayak.

Leg workout

Your upper body muscles are not the only part of your body that benefit from kayaking.

Although, paddling is more demanding for the upper body, the legs are still an important factor in the equation because steering, and essentially guiding the kayak, is dependent on the strength of the paddler’s leg muscles.

The strength improvement of the muscles in the leg area will take more time to develop because kayaking does not demand as much effort from these muscle groups but improvements do occur.

Low impact exercise

Kayaking is considered to be a low impact exercise. This means that the motions you perform when kayaking are not too demanding for the body and do not exert any stress on the joints. Regular prolonged low impact exercise has the same health benefits as short high impact exercises but without the risk to your joints.

With the low stress that kayaking exerts on the joints, it reduces the risk of musculoskeletal injuries. This type of low impact exercise also reduces the chance of you developing osteoarthritis and almost completely eliminates the chance of impact injuries.

Healthy heart

Since kayaking is a form of aerobic exercise, it is helpful for your heart health because it raises the heart rate and therefore strengthens it over time.

A healthy heart then results in better cardiovascular health which ultimately reduces your susceptibility for developing certain cardiovascular diseases.

Weight loss and muscle toning

That is right! Weight loss is also a benefit of kayaking.

This is because, as stated before, kayaking demands you to exert effort and if you exert effort then, obviously, you burn off some calories. Ergo, a good kayaking trip is not only fun and good for your muscles but it is also a good way to burn off calories and eliminate some excess body fat.

Moving a kayak at a speed of 5 mph requires you to put in 0.1 hp of effort which is equivalent to about 400 calories per hour. So, if you go kayaking for 3 to 5 hours then you will burn between  1200 to 2000 calories.

This can greatly help you shed off any excess body fat. If you have little, to no, excess body fat then kayaking will help you tone your upper body to get better muscular definition and a more toned look.

Basically kayaking can help you get in shape.

Combating vitamin D deficiencies

Many people who work desk jobs do not get enough vitamin D simply because they do not spend enough time outdoors in sunlight.

Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin because it is synthesized in the skin by the reaction of 7-dehydrocholesterol with UVB radiation that is present in sunlight.

Vitamin D is beneficial for human health because it keeps your bones and teeth healthy as well as helping to prevent diseases like type 1 diabetes because it helps the body regulate its insulin levels. It also helps with cardiovascular health.

A vitamin D deficiency can lead to some serious and nasty conditions. As far back as 2012 it was estimated that Vitamin D insufficiency affected almost 50% of the world’s population.

Since kayaking is an outdoor activity, and people usually engage in recreational kayaking when the sun is shining, it is great way to get exposure to sunlight and allow Vitamin D production to take place in the body.

Mental, emotional & social benefits

Improving your physical well-being is not the only health benefit you can get from kayaking.

As you will see below it has been demonstrating in scientific studies that exercise, including kayaking, can have many mental health benefits.

As you will see kayaking also provides social benefits for strengthening your interpersonal relationships.

De-stressing and improving mental health

We all know that living a modern day, fast-paced life can get really stressful. Sometimes you just need to take a little breather from the world to clear your head. Kayaking gives you the opportunity to do exactly that.

Spending a few hours a week on the water, even to just relax and appreciate the beautiful scenery around you, can help to reduce the stress that is caused by work, family and social commitments.

Kayaking helps you clear your head of stress, even if just for a short while, and this a good thing because too much stress causes burnout and can lead to depression.

Harvard Magazine reported that Harvard scientists found that aerobic exercise triggers the release of beneficial brain chemicals that are responsible for your overall mood. So, if you are feeling stressed or just need to clear your head then kayaking could give you a little help in this department.

Harvard Medical School also found that exercising can improve your memory.

A study from the Journal of Leisurability shows that there may be mental and emotional benefits of kayaking that go beyond stress relief. They conducted a 12 week kayaking program which resulted in the test subjects experiencing an enhanced feeling of self-worth, better confidence in their physical appearance, and improved feelings of adequacy, as well as a sense of improved worth in social interactions.

All the above benefits came from participants engaging in simple recreational kayaking!

Increasing interpersonal relationships

Improving your interpersonal relationships is also a benefit that you can get from kayaking. Since kayaking does not need a lot of time to learn and perfect it is a good activity to do with your friends or family.

This can help to reinforce the existing relationships in your life because it serves as a time to bond while you go out and have fun.

Additionally this activity can open you up to is a new circle of people who enjoy kayaking as much you do. Kayaking clubs exist that welcome new members and many new and life-long friendships can develop from joining such clubs. Like anything in life kayaking attracts all types of people. So by joining other kayakers you can easily make new connections and soon find other like-minded people.

Maintaining healthy relationships with the people around can also help lead to a better mental state and allow you to keep things in your life in perspective.


Kayaking is an outdoor water activity, that is not just a lot of fun but, that offers a lot of health benefits. Be aware though that to fully enjoy these benefits you will have to kayak on a regular basis.

Some of the benefits that you can get from kayaking are:

  • Better cardiovascular health. This is because the activity keeps your heart healthy.
  • Strengthening and toning your upper body and legs. The paddling that you do strengthens your overall upper body while steering the kayak helps you tone and strengthen your legs.
  • Aside from physical changes in your body kayaking can also help you achieve better mental health. This is because kayaking helps you de-stress.
  • Kayaking is good aerobic exercise which, studies have shown, helps the brain produce chemicals that help improve your overall mood and, ultimately, your mental health.
  • Weight loss – if done regularly with a proper diet. As kayaking is an aerobic excise it forces the body to burn calories.
  • Vitamin D production. The fact that this activity makes you go out and expose yourself to sunlight helps your body to produce much-needed vitamin D.
  • Improved social interactions. Since kayaking has a relatively short learning curve, it is something that you can do with anyone thus making it a perfect family or group activity. This helps strengthen the connection between you and the people around you which also contributes to maintaining good mental health. Joining a kayaking club will also open up a new social circle for you.
  • And, lastly, let’s not forget that kayaking is an incredibly fun activity and taking part in a healthy, fun activity is just plain good for you

You can get all of the above benefits from engaging in any type of kayaking activity even the most simple and safest form paddling such as canal kayaking. However, there are many different forms of kayaking that exist some of which may interest you more than others, though you should be aware that some of those activities come with certain risks.

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