Want to really get out on the water? Grab a kayak and go exploring. Kayaking is great exercise and gives you a low-to-the-water view that really immerses you in the experience. You will feel in harmony with the wildlife and the water as you glide through with each windmill stroke. Great for rivers, streams, rapids and lakes, kayaks are versatile watercraft that are lightweight and easy to transport. A kayaking journey can be a tranquil outing on a placid lake or a white knuckle white water rafting adventure. Just strap one to your car and hit the road: a world of kayaking awaits!
Here are the top 10 kayaking health benefits:
- Weight loss: To move the kayak at about 5 mph is going to require about 0.1 hp of effort, which is going to burn about 400 calories per hour. And so, four hours of paddling is going to burn up about 1,600 calories!
- Reduces stress: Watching your boat move through the water by your own effort, spending a few hours under the sky, on the water, watching the colors of the blues, the greens, the grays, and the browns, this is all a relaxing and enjoyable experience. A couple of times a week for a few hours, getting this kind of exercise is going to make anyone feel better!
- Upper body workout: Placing the paddle in the water and executing a good stroke is going to incorporate every muscle in the upper body. This means that in one hour at 3 mph you are going to do about 1,500 repetitions of low impact upper body movements, which no matter what your fitness goals are, you are going to tone up almost every muscle in your upper body.
- Mental health: Aerobic exercise, notes Harvard Health Publications, triggers the release of brain chemicals that can quickly improve your mood. If you’re depressed, stressed or just need to clear your mind from the hectic nature of your day, paddling a kayak can provide a relaxing workout
- Community: There aren’t too many sports that are suitable for all levels of fitness, provide the opportunity to meet great people (or paddle in solitude, if you so desire…), incorporate nature’s most scenic sites and have great physical benefits. Kayaking is unique as it’s suitable for singles, couples and friends.
- Great source of vitamin D: Time spent outdoors comes with a major bonus: vitamin D intake. Boston University Medical Center professor Dr. Michael F. Holick, M.D., Ph.D., previously explained to HuffPost that the “sunshine vitamin” can be one of the toughest to get from foods, and many of us actually take in over 80% of it from those golden rays.
- Builds positive self-image: Overcoming extreme challenges like whitewater rapids, or even paddling a longer distance than you did last time, is a way to build confidence and positive self-image. Research by the Journal of Leisurability found that kayaking leads to increased social skills and sense of self, as well as an overall boost in self-satisfaction.
- Core strengthening: The core, made up of the upper and lower abdominal muscles, is strengthened in the sport through the control and balance part of participation. Turning the kayak relies on the shifting and turning of the core area of the body. Each turn of the kayak results in the use of these muscles and, over time, builds this area.
- Tones legs: Pressure applied by the legs assists in turning and balancing the kayak. The tightening of the muscles in the legs for this purpose acts as an isometric exercise. The constant squeezing over time increases the strength of your leg muscles.
- Improves heart health: The brisk movements involved in the sport are another benefit of kayaking as exercise. The continuous movement raises the heart rate and increases cardiovascular health.