There are all kinds of sports that you can partake in, and if you love the water, kayaking is one low-impact sport that has some very significant benefits for your body.

It can help better your muscle tone while improving your heart and cardiovascular system. It also helps to bring some peace of mind.

You may think that the only way you can get these benefits is to participate in whitewater kayaking. These benefits are not just seen in active or extreme whitewater kayaking. It can also be done in flat-water. As long as you get out on the water (sea, lake or river), you can enjoy the benefits that come from kayaking. And, it also doesn’t matter how you do kayaking – as part of a competition or as laid-back vacation fun –you’ll still reap the benefits.

Learning how to kayak is easy to do… basic skills can be learned in just a day; maybe two. However, if you’ve been doing the basics, it’s time to learn some new kayaking skills. Think of kayaking as a hobby that promotes both a healthy, fit lifestyle. Think of it as:

  • Relaxing
  • Challenging
  • Socially Fun
  • Solo Fun

You can have fun kayaking for hours and hours or partake in an expedition of kayaking for days, even weeks.

4 Key Reasons to Take Up the Kayaking Sport

1 – Tone Your Muscles

Did you know that paddling can give your arms and shoulders a real workout? After all, a good number of those muscles are worked. When you paddle, you can expect to do around 500 strokes per mile. Just put the paddle in the water and start rowing to use every muscle in your upper body and work some of the muscles in the lower body.

Your shoulders, arms, core and upper body muscles are strengthened while you row. And, you can increase the power in your legs by applying extra pressure to force your kayak onward.

Think of it in these terms:

At three miles per hour and one hour, you’ve done about 1,500 repetitions of low impact upper body movements. And, no matter what fitness goals you have, you will tone up nearly all the muscles in your body, and increase the circumference in your chest, forearm and upper arm. The paddling can increase the strength of your grip too.

2 – Weight Loss

Most people look for exercises that will burn an excessive amount of calories to help them lose weight. Kayaking is one activity that ensures you burn fat and lose weight. An average 125-pound person who does one hour of kayaking can burn 300 calories. People who weight nearly 185 calories can burn nearly 444 calories every hour. Think of it: four kayaking hours’ means between 1,200 and 1,600 calories.

3 – Cardiovascular Fitness

Kayaking will better your cardiovascular health as well as strengthening several major muscle groups in the body. Yes, kayaking is a test of your upper body strength and can give it a real workout. However, it’s also a worthwhile option for a lower body workout. It’s probable that you can steer the kayak using leg movements, meaning the whole body is active during the activity.

Kayakers tend to have powerful heart strength with the average mass in the left ventricle being 50 percent more in canoeists than seen with sedentary people. This allows the heart to effectively pump blood through the body.

4 – Mental Health

Kayaking, and exercises similar to it, can have a profound positive effect on your mental health. A reason for that is that aerobic exercises can release brain chemicals that boost your confidence, self-worth and mood. If you feel depressed or stressed out, a kayaking trip can do you a world of good and bring on a peaceful state. Time outdoors exercising allows you to forget the world.

In Summary

If you’re looking for an aerobic exercise that also takes you outside – one that can better your heart health and lung strength and better regulate your blood sugar level, cholesterol levels and reduce your blood pressure – then you need to pick up the sport of kayaking. You can reap the benefits regardless of how you carry out the kayaking exercise.

Specific health benefits of kayaking include:

  • Low risk of wear-and-tear on muscle tissues and joints due to the low-impact physical activity of paddling
  • Better muscle strength in the region of the chest, shoulders, arms, and back due to the constant action of the paddle moving
  • Increased cardiovascular fitness
  • Improved leg and torso strength, since most of the power needed to propel the kayak forward comes from applying leg pressure and rotating the torso
  • Kayaking is great for the heart muscle since this aerobic exercise helps with raising the heart rate

Kayaking Statistics and Facts

Units sold of kayaks sold in the U.S:

  • 2001 (357,100)
  • 2006 (394,400 – highest total from 2001 to 2013),
  • 2010 (228,000)
  • 2013 (225,800 – lowest total for the same time-frame)


  1. In your article, you stated that your shoulders, arms, core and upper body muscles are strengthened while you row and, you can increase the power in your legs by applying extra pressure to force your kayak onward. Last night my wife and I were trying to figure out an activity that we could do for date night and someone suggested getting some kayaks. I wonder if there are certain types of kayaks that would be best for beginners.

  2. It’s good to see how many health benefits can come from kayaking. I appreciate you listing some of those out! I also think it’s a wonderful chance to get out and explore lakes and bays. It can be relaxing to be out and appreciating the beauty of the world around us, which is also a mental and emotional benefit in and of itself.