Kayaking For Exercise and Weight Loss: Does It Really Work?

*** The following is a guest post contributed by a reader and fellow kayak enthusiast. ***

People think of kayaking as a recreational activity or sport. But when they are discussing weight loss, kayaking rarely comes up.

Weight lifting and running are not the only exercises that can help you lose a few pounds. Recently, people have realized that fun activities can be effective for weight loss too. They have resorted to cycling, swimming, and standup paddling.

But what about kayaking? All you do is sit, paddle and enjoy the sun. How can that make you lose weight? 

Well, you’d be surprised. As you will see below, kayaking is an amazing weight loss exercise. 

How Does Your Body Lose Weight?

Before getting in too deep, you need to understand the science of weight loss. Don’t worry, there won’t be any use of difficult terms and language.

Your body requires a certain number of calories every day for it to perform basic functions. This number varies from one person to another but usually ranges from 1800 to 2200 calories. If you want to lose weight, you have to consume fewer calories than your body requires or burn more than you eat. In short, you have to create a caloric deficit.

With the deficit created, your body will be forced to burn stored fat to get the energy it requires. That is how weight loss comes about.

Blue plate with the words 'Burn Fat' spelled out on it in game tiles
Image Credit: Total Source

Suppose your body needs 2000 calories daily. If you consume 1500 calories you will have created a deficiency of 500 calories. Alternatively, you can eat the needed 2000 calories and burn 500 through exercise. Some people combine both.

If you keep this up for a week, you will have created a total deficit of 3500 calories. That is the number needed to lose a pound.

What Makes Kayaking a Good Weight Loss Activity?

For kayaking to qualify as a good activity for weight loss, it has to be effective at burning calories.

It would be nice to exercise as often as you like. But schedules are tight and sometimes you can barely spare the time. So you want an activity that burns many calories in a short time—like kayaking.

Man in a red hat, red vest, and red kayak paddles the busy waters near NYC

If you weigh 150 pounds, you will burn about 340 calories in one hour of kayaking. If you are 200 pounds you will burn about 453 calories. This is impressive. But if you are not impressed yet, here is how other activities compare. (This applies to a 150-pound person doing the exercise for one hour).

  • Cycling leisurely: 272 calories
  • Jogging: 476 calories
  • Casual swimming: 476 calories
  • Walking: 224 calories
  • Regular yardwork: 272 calories
  • Normal weight training: 204 calories

Other than casual swimming and jogging, kayaking is the one of the best exercises for burning calories.

Jogging is not ideal in many situations because it is a weight-bearing exercise. Your chances of getting hurt are higher. Besides, it is not suitable for people with joint or bone issues.

So, going by the number of calories burned, kayaking is great for weight loss. 

Does Kayaking For Weight Loss Really Work?

If you are still not convinced, take a look at these real-life examples and a scientific study.

When Jennie Dudziak first took up kayaking, she weighed 410 pounds. As you can imagine, even paddling leisurely was a struggle for her—not to mention she was sick. But she pressed on. With time, she became an avid kayaker and finally managed to lose 240 pounds. How awesome is that? Read her full story here.

Jennie is not the only one. Mary Frances Hansford struggled with body image issues for a long while. She dieted, worked out tirelessly and obsessed over calories. Then she developed an interest in kayaking. What started as a hobby, quickly became a part of her life.

Kayaking allowed her to work out without really thinking about it. She focused on having fun with friends and enjoying the water. Today, she is healthier and more confident.

This particular study focused on flat-water kayaking and its metabolic demands. The findings reveal that kayakers have exceptional anaerobic and aerobic capacities. They also learned that the upper body works impeccably hard to propel the kayak forward.

According to the study, male kayakers generally have a lean physique with narrow hips and a proportionally wide upper body. The female kayakers tend to have a mesomorph body type. That is, they have low body fat, well-proportioned body and can gain or lose weight without struggling.

Other Benefits of Kayaking

For someone looking to lose weight, burning calories may be the best thing about kayaking. However, there are other kayaking benefits that will improve your life in general. They make it easier for you to get back in shape and take charge of your life.

Check them out:

Improved social life: sometimes you get so busy that you don’t find time to meet with your friends, let alone make new ones. Kayaking gives you an opportunity to interact with other kayakers. You may end up with some really cool friends.

Better mental health: being out in the water helps your mind relax. Kayaking also causes your body to produce feel-good hormones. At the end of the day, you will have reduced stress levels and be in a great mood.

Cardiovascular health: physical activities that raise your heart rate are beneficial to your heart. Your chances of developing lifestyle diseases will reduce.

Vitamin D: getting vitamin D from food is not easy. But you don’t have to worry about that if you spend time kayaking out in the sun.

Young woman takes in the mountain scenery while she takes a break from paddling her foldable kayak

Kayaking is one of the best physical exercises. It is fun and you can invite your loved ones to join. Unlike many other activities, kayaking cannot get boring. There are many variations such as touring, fishing, racing and whitewater kayaking. When you start to get bored, you can always spice it up.

You will attain your fitness goals without even realizing it. Just make sure you adopt a healthy lifestyle as well. More importantly, focus less on pounds lost and more on having a good time.

Paddle On!

Kayaking For Exercise and Weight Loss: Does It Really Work?
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Kayaking For Exercise and Weight Loss: Does It Really Work?
Kayaking is a superb way of losing weight in comparison to other exercise. Get the skinny on burning fat the fun way with kayaking.
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Board and Kayak Life
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3 thoughts on “Kayaking For Exercise and Weight Loss: Does It Really Work?”

  1. This whole time I thought kayaking was something you did for leisure… plus the sun and the outdoors. This has to be better than the treadmill.

  2. Weight loss has been a huge strain not only on my physical health, but also on my mental health. I think it’s important to turn to make wholesome activities when going through something like this. Something to relieve your body and your mind. I think kayaking is going to be the answer for me. Will definitely try it!

  3. I love solitude and the water…I am 75 and always must fight my weight creeping up….so I try to kayak as close to every other day as I can. I go 5 miles with a brief stop at 2.5 to walk, stretch, and avoid leg cramps. I walk 5 miles of forest trails on the opposite days. Your article makes me really happy to learn it is a good choice of exercise! Now … to keep the calorie intake lower than the output.


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