Get A Workout Outside In A Kayak

silhouette of person using boat

Kick Up Your Exercise Routine On The Water

Tired of racing to the gym to get to class on time? Can’t find a class or a gym that you like? Bored with the same old weight lifting routines? It’s time to try something new – get a workout on the water. Yes, ON the water! Kayaking can give a great workout. “I believe this is the beginning of a fitness revolution”, says Jodi Bigelow, author of Kayaking For Fitness . “People are looking for alternatives to going to the gym.”

Types of Kayaks

A kayak is a light-weight boat that has single or double seating and is propelled through the water by a double-bladed paddle. Modern kayaks come in a variety of designs and are made for specific purposes. The varieties include kayaks made for recreation, whitewater, racing and fishing, and the paddler has the option of sitting in the kayak or on top of it.

Paddling Kayaks

Kayaking is an activity that has universal appeal. Anyone can do it. Men and women of all ages are paddling. It is a low impact sport so people with limiting capabilities, such as arthritis or bad knees, are finding it easy to kayak. Without any real rules, participants can go at their own speed, either alone or with a group. It is also an activity that the whole family can enjoy together. Many athletes, such as runners and cyclists who have well-developed legs, use kayaking as a cross-training activity.

Get A Workout

Many people take to the water as a leisure activity but it can quickly develop into a fitness routine. Kayaking is a cardiovascular workout, burning the same amount of calories as moderate swimming or jogging. Although this sport has the most affect on the upper body (including upper back, biceps, triceps, shoulders and forearms) it is actually a full body workout.

“The strength to power a kayak, when done correctly, comes from rotating the torso and applying pressure with your legs, says Bigelow. “You are connecting the boat with your body through your heel.” Ultimately, the biggest benefit of kayaking comes in the increase in core strength. The abdominals are constantly being worked when keeping the balance of the boat and paddling and maneuvering in the water.

Other Benefits of Kayaking

The benefits of kayaking move beyond the body; they also help to relieve stress. “I love the freedom and sense of adventure that kayaking brings. It’s not only an amazing exercise, but you really are directly in touch with nature,” explains Alissa Sears. “Kayaking gives me both an incredible peace of mind and sense of balance and ability. It also provides space and an opportunity to be in balance with nature, as well as being a great time for insight, reflection and thought.”

Getting Started

Many areas have outdoor sports centers that offer kayak rentals. Prospective buyers should try different styles of kayaks until they find one they like. “Pick any boat that you feel safe and stable in then just paddle until you find your technique. If you keep fitness in mind you’re more conscious of your efforts and you’ll get a better workout,” advises Bigelow. “Of course, it is wise to invest in a quality instructor to learn good technique.” These same stores usually offer guided excursions and lessons.

Kicking it up!

As the sport of kayaking increase in popularity, there are increased offerings for those wanting to try new and different approaches. Heather Dolan is a member of SEAL TEAM PT, which is located in Richmond and is run by a former Navy Seal, John McGuire. Once a week they hit the flat water for an unusual kayak experience. “We do push-ups on our open-seated kayaks, swim drills around and under the kayak, stand on the kayak and paddle, and we also race in our kayaks,” says Dolan.

Kayaking is an exercise that allows people of all ages and fitness levels to use kayaking to get an invigorating workout outside.

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